Madonna Muller and Sandro dance the Bolero

Many of the ballroom dances have similar characteristics, but Bolero is a completely different and unique dance. Bolero is still part of the Latin dance group due to the music and is a competitive dance more than a social dance.

Bolero is a slow, beautiful and expressive dance between partners in a closed position. It has lots of rise and fall similar to the waltz and also some Cuban hip motion. It even incorporates some theatrical movements.

Bolero also requires exceptional balance. It is the slowest of all the American-style rhythm dances. It has a smooth gliding movement, dramatic arm style and a romantic feel. There are pivots and large side steps as well. Bolero is sometimes called the “Cuban Dance of Love.”

Bolero is one of the five competitive dances which include ChaCha, Rumba, Bolero, Swing and Mambo. Bolero was put into the middle of this group due to the speed of the dance (slow) and also the judges are able to identify the chemistry and the connectivity within the partnership because of the tempo.

Bolero actually has a few styles:

Fandango was always danced by two people who never touched but always faced each other. This was a courtship dance of sorts, where the boy sees the girl, she snubs him, then the girl chases the boy and runs away.

Cuban Bolero comes from the old Spanish Bolero. It is similar to a Rumba, which is a simple box step with elegant moves and Cuban hip movements.

American Bolero was made popular in the U.S. and uses ballad style music with slow tempos and sentimental lyrics. American Bolero is mainly competitive, not a street dance or social dance.

Due to the nature of Bolero, you might not see it much on the social dance floor because it is such a difficult dance to learn. You have the rise and fall, maintaining good balance, and mastering the sizing of the steps. Also, the music must be a specific rhythm and speed for it to be done correctly.

Even though it is difficult to master, don’t be discouraged – you might find yourself up for the challenge!

Sandro Virag is a partner and instructor at Hilton Head Ballroom Dance Studio of Hilton Head, located in Bluffton at Seaquins Ballroom. hiltonheadballroom.com