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What is Bolero?

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By Sorina Fant / Edited by Samantha Bellerose, B.Ed, Dip.Dance (Performing Arts)

Bolero, also known as “Baile de Palillos” and “Goyescas,” is a slow, beautiful dance with smooth, fluid movements. This Spanish, 3/4 dance has a dramatic, theatrical style that involves stomping, quick motions, poses, and sharp turns as well as an infusion of many ballet movements. An iconic Bolero move is an arched arm over a dancer’s head.

Bolero dancers require great focus, technique, and showmanship and often perform while playing castanets. It has been a dance style that has been described as a mixture of the Waltz, the Rumba, and the Tango. 

Sebastiano Carezo created Bolero in 1780 to be performed by a couple but over time the dance evolved for solo performers. 

Originating in the late 18th century, Bolero is the combination of the Sevillana and the Contradanza. The Contradanza is a folk dance that has a mix of French, English, Spanish, African, and Scottish origins. It migrated to the Caribbean, as well as South and North America, with many of the movements from Contradanza appearing in Mexican folkloric dance today. Sevillana is Castillian folk music from Seville, Spain. 

Bolero is practiced and seen in theaters around the world as the beauty and showmanship of the dance can captivate an audience. Today, dancers perform Bolero routines in competitions around the world. 

Cuban Bolero

Cuban Bolero is often confused with Bolero that originated in Spain but it is completely different. The popularity of Cuban Bolero began in Santiago de Cuba. The traveling musicians in Santiago de Cuba during the 19th century are the inventors of this musical genre and Pepe Sanchez is considered the father of Cuban Bolero. 

This page is just one of hundreds of definitions of the many styles and genres of dance. This library is being continually added to by the writers and contributors of Dance Parent 101!