The bolero, originally a Spanish dance with Moroccan roots, dates back to the early 19th century. It was danced singly or in couples with the dancers exhibiting complex and intricate movements while maintaining a steady rattle with their castanets.

With the colonization of the New World and a mixture of cultures coming together, a blend of rhythms and music began to occur. In Cuba, the Spanish dances, music, and culture converged with the African slave rhythms to create new styles and rhythms. Bolero was one of the dances to emerge in the late 1800s from this convergence. Because of its slow, gliding, romantic quality, Bolero is often called the Cuban Dance of Love. From Cuba, Bolero migrated to the U.S. in the mid-1930s.

The modern bolero is danced to a slow-quick-quick rhythm with long, gliding steps to the side on the slow beat and a rock-step, either forward or backward, on the quick-quick beats. Many of the patterns done in the Rumba have slower, measured counterparts in the Bolero. The dance often has a theme of approach and turning away—the tensions of a couple falling in love.


  • Bolero is a slow dance characterized by smooth, gliding movement, dramatic arm styling, and a romantic feel.
  • Bolero is a mixture of three dances: Tango (use of contra-body movement); Waltz (use of rise and fall); and Rumba (use of Cuban Motion and slow Latin music).

The footwork is generally “Ball Flat” throughout the dance. Ball Flat is a term indicating that the ball of the foot is the first part of the foot to come in contact with the floor and will receive the pressure from the weight change before the rest of the foot. The weight is then transferred to the Flat of the foot as the weight change is completed.