On Bolero

For appropriate background music, click the video above for. You will have to stop it for the other videos.


Bolero – a style of music that is not music for Bolero the dance. For instance, Ravel’s Boléro is not meant for dancing a Bolero

Bolero – a slow dance to Latin music

Bolero – a dance with expressions through the arms, hands, legs, feet and face

Bolero – a fluid, slinky dance with rise-and-fall plus contra body movement (the upper and lower body slighting twisting in opposite directions)

If Cha-Cha is the tease and Rumba is foreplay, Bolero is the act of love

Image from ballroomdancers.com


Dance historians credit Spanish dancer Sebastian Cereza for creating Bolero in 1780

Bolero originally danced in 3/4 time

When Bolero music reached Cuba in the mid-1800s, it fused with African music and the timing changed to 2/4 or 4/4

Bolero originally a dance for a couple, but later adapted for large group choreography (which helped spread its popularity)

Bolero introduced America in the mid-1930s

Spanish and Cuban Bolero forms still exist today

Cuban Bolero (aka Bolero Son and International Rumba) is similar to American Ballroom Rumba, that is slightly faster than Bolero


Basic Steps
Bolero – a popular social ballroom dance, but also a competitive dance in American Rhythm ballroom

Bolero – danced in 4/4 time, usually at 96-104 beats per minute (slow than the Cuban Bolero in the previous video)

Basic pattern consists of six steps over two measures of music (eight beats)

Bolero’s basic pattern is as follows: (Note: Slow = two beats, Quick = one beat) Slow-Quick-Quick-Slow-Quick-Quick … (repeat)

1) Partners facing each other in standard ballroom hold

2) Bodies lower before a large, lunging step to the side (lead to the left, follower to the right), then raising on the second beat after the weight transfer (2 counts, slow)

3) Two rock steps follow (1 count each, quick-quick) that are smaller than the large side step. (Lead goes back then forward, the follower forward then back). Lowering for the next sequence occurs on the second small step.

4) Repeat the large, side step in the opposite direction.

5) Repeat the two rock steps (also opposite as below).

Watching this video will make more sense to the abbreviated written instructions.


When danced well, Bolero is a beautiful dance. With its long, fluid motions to go along with the music’s slow tempo, Bolero is full of expression, drama, and passion. The smooth, gliding, twisting actions, and accompanying rise and fall help make Bolero the beautiful dance of love. Enjoy the high-quality Bolero in the video below.

39 thoughts on “On Bolero

  1. Beautiful dance. I am obviously NOT a dancer so while watching the last video, I find it beautiful but it doesn’t feel like there are any steps per se… Not that I care because it was simply beautiful to watch!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. You know I always enjoy your dance posts extra specially Frank. I don’t know much at all about the dance Bolero, so this was both fun and informative. I have a favoiurite though and have even saved it to watch again later. I absolutely loved the Cuban dancers – him especially. He was so in the music and every movement seemed to be perfectly executed. I loved the way he used his hands to indicate and from your description it seemed he knew how to do those rocking steps……..

    Liked by 1 person

    • Pauline,
      Glad you enjoy this because I enjoy doing them. I actually include an instructional video because of something you stated on an earlier dance! Ah ha … you enjoyed the Bolero Son video. Interesting how that dance is closer to American Rumba because it doesn’t have the long flows of Bolero. Nonetheless, that couple is fun to watch as she followed the steps that he lead.


  3. I love this post! I especially adore the video with the couple dancing the Bolero in the streets of Cuba.
    I never told you this, but I am a HUGE fan of Ice Dance. It is my fave of all Olympic competitions. Torvil and Dean skating to Gold to Ravel’s Bolero in 1984 (yes, I know that is not the ballroom dance, but you have reminded me) is breathtaking. So, let me share this beauty, which is not the dance you are talking about, and done to the music you are not speaking of. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KcCj0xfO3H8


    • Resa,
      The fact that this post reminded your of Torvil and Dean’s magic routine is special in itself. After all, that important moment greatly raised the level of awareness for ice dancing … and yes – I watched again, so thanks for the link.

      The Cuban Bolero Son video was definitely fun. I see the similarity with Rumba, but I like the long, flowing, lines that Bolero brings. I will soon have a post (maybe next week) that requires this one as the introduction. Hmmmmm ….

      Liked by 1 person

  4. The Spanish guitar music at the beginning was lovely and sinuous in itself.
    I liked the Cuban dancers, but the final video was really beautiful. The woman seems to have had a lot of dance training–ballet perhaps–in addition to the ballroom dancing.


    • Merril,
      Finally … someone commenting on the opening song. THANK YOU because that song is beautiful Bolero music. Definitely agree with you about the closing video as I also see ballet. She does great at selling the dance!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. This was so enjoyable to read and to learn from your research, Frank. Bolero is a style of music I’ve always enjoyed and I didn’t have a strong impression of the dance. You’ve piqued my interest! I have enjoyed Armik in the past, as well, and you’ve encouraged me to refresh my playlist! I was late to find this post, but I’m so glad I didn’t miss it entirely!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Debra,
      Glad you enjoyed this dance post. The fact that you are aware of Armik made me smile! Meanwhile, I will tell you that this post is actually a forerunner for a short story I will be posting very soon. … and you know that I don’t dive into fiction very often!


  6. Dear aFrank,
    Passionately sensual is what a Bolero is for me. The connection of the dancers in perfect harmony with the senses carrying them to where the other knows not until there is a sign of the ultimate bond between the two of them. Although the last video with Tony and Daniel is from a professional point of view they lack the passion that the two dancers in Bolero should have. The Cuban dancers are much more connected though, for me, it isn’t a true Bolero in the sense that it looks programmed. A true Bolero is achieved by the heated bond between the two people without repetitive planned movements. The passion goes to your feet from the embrace and touch. BUT … then again, the Cubans were dancing in the HOT HOT sun. : )
    Armik – BTW – is a favorite of mine on my nurturing posts. I hadn’t come across this video. LOVE IT !!!!
    Isadora 😎

    Liked by 1 person

Comment with respect.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.