The individuals below are (in our opinion) the most innovative and influential people in the world of Bachata dance. Since 2005 bachata has exploded in popularity in the latin dance scene thanks in part to artists such as Aventura, Prince Royce, Joan Soriano and Juan Luis Guerra. The individuals on our list have all had a direct and global impact on the style and technique of bachata dance. There are basically three types of bachata dance styles; Bachata Moderna, Dominican Bachata and Dominican Bachata “Fusion”. Bachata Moderna, or “sideways salsa”, is the predominate style of Bachata danced in the world. Dominican Bachata is the traditional style danced in the Dominican Republic. Dominican “Fusion” has become the accepted “Dominican” style danced and taught by the majority of instructors at congresses and workshops.
The list is meant to be a source of information and generate healthy conversation…not controversy. Thanks to the staff and readers who have helped improve the list and make it more educational. The list could very well include 100 people, but it serves as a broad brush to recognize those (again, in our opinion) who have been influential in shaping the landscape of the bachata dance scene.
15. Adam Taub – A bachata historian and dance instructor. Taub has done multiple documentaries on bachata topics (including one on popular bachata artist Joan Soriano) and he offers a very unique and educational Bachata history class at latin dance congresses/festivals. Taub educates the masses on authentic Dominican bachata music, dancing and culture. Many instructors have visited the DR, but Adam has actually lived it.
14. Vessa Pakkari – He has been called the “Bachata Ambassadar”. Vessa was instrumental in orchestrating the first bachata festival to take place in the Dominican Republic in 2011. The festival has exploded in both popularity and attendance, and is currently in its 6th year. His original festivals were in Finland, but have since relocated to the “bachata motherland”.
13. Rudi “El Tiguere Del Mambo” Lopez – The man behind the Bachata powerhouse Island Touch Dance Academy. He teaches, provides choreography, and promotes the Island Touch brand which features immensely popular dancers Jorge “Ataca” Burgos and Tanja “La Alemana” Kensinger. He also organizes BachaTu, an event which is held in the Dominican Republic and steadily growing in popularity. He is also widely known for being one of the more popular Bachata DJ’s across the latin dance festival scene.
12. Tony Lara – Lara is the organizer of the “Sexy and Sensual” festival in the UK. Tony has had tremendous influence in spreading bachata to European and Oceanic dancers.
11. Juan Ruiz – One of, if not the first, to coin the phrase “Bachata Moderna” to describe the new style of Bachata. Along with Nestor Manuelian founded the first Bachata-Centric congress in the world, the Sydney Bachata Festival (2008). His initial influence was felt in Australia and New Zealand, but quickly spread like a Bachata tsunami through out the rest of Europe and the USA. Juan and Nestor showed that it was indeed possible to have an entire latin festival centered on Bachata. Incidentally, the FIRST Bachata festival ever promoted (but not held) was organized by Peter and Christine Dottax. This was held in Sweden after the Sydney Bachata Festival.
10. Inaki Fernandez – One of the most important dancers to initially hit the bachata scene. Had a major influence in the evolution of taking “Bachata Italian Style” and molding it to what is now called “Bachata Moderna”. Inaki has produced several instructional DVD’s dedicated to “Bachata Moderna”.
9. Tanja “La Alemana” Kensinger – Probably the most popular female “Bachata Moderna” dancer in the world. Co-Director of Island Touch Dance Academy with Jorge “Ataca” Burgos. Her style has influenced millions of woman across the globe.
8. Jorge Contreras – Co-organizer of perhaps the largest bachata festival in the USA, the Los Angeles Bachata Festival. Leslie Ferreira (also a bachata legend from the west coast) serves as the other co-organizer. Jorge has had a heavy impact in helping to shape the bachata landscape on the west coast, and he and Leslie have traveled internationally to teach as well.
7. Jorge “Ataca” Burgos – Ataca began his dance career as a salsa instructor, but he has become one of the most recognizable male bachata dancers in the world. Ataca and La Alemana were perhaps the first Bachata Moderna couple/duo to have world wide popularity and influence thanks, in part, to YouTube.
6. Troy Anthony – One of the first instructors to teach Dominican Fusion bachata. Troy serves as an emcee at many latin dance congresses around the world, and is one of the more popular figures in the latin dance scene.
5. Jorjet Alcocer – Without question THE most influential female “Dominican Fusion” bachata dancer on the planet. Her footwork has been copied more than most Jay-Z mp3’s. If you see a woman dancing Dominican Fusion or doing a solo bachata shine…most likely she’s imitating Jorjet.
4. Carlos Cinta – World reknowned Bachata instructor. His unique and revolutionary Bachata musicality class has done more to open the eyes (and ears) of dancers to the nuances of Bachata music than most instructors combined. He periodically partners with bachata musician Joan Soriano and his band to incorporate live music into his teaching.
3. Lee “El Gringuito” Smith – Organizer of one of the most popular bachata festivals in the world, the DC Bachata Congress. “El Gringuito” along with his partner, Kat “La Gata” Aguilar, have made their international mark both in the instruction of bachata dance, as well as their promotion of bachata music. Their list of accomplishments includes DC Bachata Congress feature articles in the Washington Post (Article Here), and interviews on CNN Espanol.
2. Rodney “Rodchata” Aquino – Organizer of the first Bachata congress in the United States. “Rodchata” continues to be a heavy contributor to the west coast Bachata scene and his Bachata congresses are some of the most popular in the world. Most, if not all, of the best Bachata instructors in the world have taught or performed at his events. He is currently working on a Bachata competition called the Bachata Gold Cup.
1. Jorge Elizondo – Similar to Rodney Aquino, “Bachata Jorge” organizes well attended bachata congresses and workshops around the U.S. Elizondo’s influence, however, extends across the globe as he often travels internationally to teach workshops or classes at festivals. Jorge has coined the phrase “Bachata fusion” to describe his mixture of Bachata with other latin dance styles. He is often credited with being the most influential in spreading “Bachata Moderna” in the USA, and he continues to do that through out the globe, including the Far East. He also has been the mentor to many current popular dance instructors. Elizondo was an instructor at the first Bachata congress in the U.S. and his impact in Bachata is still being felt almost 10 years later. Jorge is our pick for most influential bachatero in the world.