Meredith & Harold



MAJOR SECTIONS: Figures | Articles | Links | Alph. Index | Search | Home

Figures in the Smooth Rhythms
Viennese Waltz
International Tango
American Tango
Two Step
Five Count
One Step
Figures in the Latin Rhythms
Cha Cha
Single Swing
West Coast Swing
Slow Two Step
Argentine Tango
Paso Doble
Dance Articles
Articles Home

Dance Figures

Dance Rhythms
Lead and Follow
Dance Styling
Fred Astaire Album
Other Sections
Dance Links
Music Clips For Each Rhythm
Search Site/Web
Contact Me


by Randy & Marie Preskitt

The following 2 paragraphs are from Roundalab’s progressive teaching manual:

Bolero is an American Ballroom dance rhythm. It is characterized by a strong rise and fall action in the basic figures. In Round Dancing, the figures begin on a slow side step, considered a preparatory step. The maximum body rise is gained on the slow, and this rise is achieved with the leg and the body rather than from the ankle and foot as is done in the smooth rhythms. Lowering occurs in a rolling like motion on step two. Unlike Rumba, there is no Cuban motion of the hips in the basic figures. The basic dance position is a loose Closed Position or Butterfly Position similar to those used in other Latin rhythms. The steps are taken in a ball/flat action as in done in most other Latin Dances.

The tempo of Bolero is very slow, about 22 -28 measures per minute. Thus, strong control is required to capture the essence of the SQQ rhythm. When teaching this rhythm, encourage the dancers to work on developing the control necessary to sustain body motion throughout each figure. Since the timing of Bolero is SQQ it should not be taught with Rumba or ChaCha. It would logically follow the teaching of Foxtrot. Dancers would then be familiar with using the slow step first.

This is a great description in the general timing of bolero, but now we need to further describe some of the additional techniques. The first slow step must be taken on a soft leg pushing to the side with no rise until the full weight is taken. Then rise in the body with an upward stretch taking time to fully use the slow count. The next step is a quick count taken with a small step with very little reach. Think of this as the body moving with the foot landing under the body rather than reaching with the foot and moving the body to follow. At this point, lower into the weighted foot on a soft knee. Maintaining this low position, recover with a pushing action into the 3rd step, which would be the second quick count. But now the critical point is to stay low on this recover step in preparation for the next slow step. At this point, push off of the standing foot for the next slow step of the next move as described above. As has been stated often, this will give a feeling of an ocean wave cresting against the shore and flowing back out low.

In this manner, there is a continuous rising and lowering occurring when dancing bolero. This will help maintain timing especially when the music is played at a slower pace. The important thing to remember is never stop moving. After the slow step is taken there is still body movement happening before the first quick count. This will help to keep from rushing the move and getting ahead. This entire action makes the mechanics of bolero much different than rumba. Although both rhythms share common moves they are danced with different styles -- rumba with a straight leg and bolero with soft flexing legs.

The next thing to consider is body mechanics. In addition to the rise and fall of bolero there is also a stretching action as the slow step is taken. This is helped by breathing in deeply as the slow step is taken. This assists the upward stretch as the slow step is progressing. Breath out as the two quick steps are taken. In all, just dance bolero in a relaxed manner with soft rise and fall and enjoy the soft feeling.

From clinic notes prepared for the ICBDA Convention, 2021, and reprinted in the Dixie Round Dance Council (DRDC) Newsletter, November 2021.


Alphabetical Index to
and Technique
Online since 2001 İHarold and Meredith Sears, Boulder, CO, All rights reserved.