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Few dance styles are as evocative as Bolero. This smooth, sophisticated love dance is the slowest of the Latin styles. Through learning this style you will hone your ability to turn gracefully and move with controlled smoothness– it is a beautiful combination of elements that packs a powerful punch with its sentimental nature. Bolero is a unique style that you will be sure to enjoy both learning and performing!

While it is linked to Spain and Cuba, it is a collective heritage that embraces many Latino countries. It was originally a Spanish dance form invented by dancer Sebastiano Carezo in the late 18th century with a 3/4 rhythm. Jose “Pepe” Sanchez is credited with being the creator of the Cuban bolero. He composed several pieces but did not have the habit of writing them down, which is why most of his work is lost.

A change in timing

The Bolero performed today is mainly Cuban with a fusion of African rhythms. It was first set to the rhythm of 2/4 but is now danced in 4/4 timing. Guitars, bongos, and congas are the classic accompaniment. It features dramatic, intricate steps and equally dramatic stops and is often considered a graceful version of the Fandango. The music has a gentle Cuban rhythm derived from a fusion of Spanish guitar and song with African rhythms and percussion. The Bolero is similar to the Rumba although it is danced at a slower tempo often to slow Latin ballads at a tempo of 96-104 beats per minute. Its basic rhythm is a Slow-Quick-Quick where a dancer takes the first step on the first beat, holds the first step on the second beat, and then takes two more steps on the third and fourth beats.

The rise and fall technique

The Bolero is similar to many American Rhythm dances but features the rise and fall technique used in the waltz and foxtrot. The body rises, falls and stretches gracefully as if painting a portrait. The dance form requires dancers to turn the right side of their body towards a left-moving leg and vice versa. It is often considered the dance of love where turns, breaks, wrapping type movements and rhythmic changes tell a story. This makes it essential for partners to communicate not only well with the audience but with each other when they perform the bolero.

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An easy dance form

In the 1990s, Bolero round dancing became popular where couples dance the same movements and patterns in a circular counter-clockwise direction. It is an easy dance form to learn with simple basic moves that include walks and sudden stops. The dance is based on a step called the slip pivot that gives the dance its grace and elegance. Communication plays an important role so if you want to master the Bolero make sure to watch great dancers like Christopher Dean and Jayne Torvill, ice dancing’s favorite couple.