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