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Bolero Glide, Drop, and Drift

by Tom Hicks

What is bolero? Bolero is a unique dance in that it incorporates ideas and movement from other dance rhythms. It uses music, Cuban motion, and steps from rumba; rise and fall from waltz; and contra-body movements/shaping from tango.

An important part of bolero character is the music. Originally, the music came from Spain and was 3/4 time (it's only an assumption, but maybe that's one of the reasons it uses the rise and fall similar to the 3/4 time waltz). It eventually switched to the more common 4/4 time that we use today. The music itself is of utmost importance to enhance the sense of love and romance portrayed in the dancing of bolero. Bolero music is also the slowest of the Latin rhythms, which allows for a slow but beautiful glide across the floor enhanced by arm styling and body shapes defining the bolero as the "Dance of Love".

The basic movement (forward or backward) is a 6-step figure similar to the forward or back rumba basic but using the techniques called glide, drop, and drift. The first step is an extended sideward movement gliding across the floor on the slow beat. A rise is created through the use of the standing leg controlling it so the completion of rise doesn't occur until the end of the slow. Generally in dance, foot rise is created but due to newer styles of dancing only body rise is an option in bolero. Next, a small step forward or backward in a Cuban cross position is used with the dropping of weight vertically downward on the first quick, followed by a medium-size step which is then drifted forward or backward on the second quick sustaining the dropped position created on the first quick. Luckily, once learned, the technique of the basic movement is the foundation of all other basic actions used in bolero.


From clinic notes prepared for the ICBDA Convention, July 2018, and reprinted in the Dixie Round Dance Council (DRDC) Newsletter, November 2019.


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