Let’s Dance and SBDC – SaddleBrooke Ballroom Dance Clubs

Bolero – Spanish or Cuban? Part 2

Steve Holdener

Last month I wrote that Bolero is a very slow and deliberate romantic Latin dance originating in Spain in the late 18th century. The music at that time was sung and accompanied by castanets and guitars. The Cuban Bolero tradition originated in Santiago de Cuba in the last quarter of the 19th century; however, it does not owe its origin to the Spanish music and song of the same name. In the 19th century there grew up in Santiago de Cuba a group of itinerant musicians who moved around earning their living by singing and playing the guitar.

Pepe Sanchez was known as the father of the trova style and the creator of the Cuban Bolero. Pepe was untrained but had a remarkable natural talent and composed numbers in his head and never wrote them down. As a result most of these numbers are now lost, but two dozen or so survive because friends and disciples wrote them down. He was the model and teacher for the great trovadores who followed.

The Cuban Bolero has traveled to Mexico and the rest of Latin America after its conception where it became part of their repertoires. Some of the Bolero’s leading composers have come from nearby countries, most especially the prolific Puerto Rican composer Rafael Hernández; another example is Mexico’s Agustín Lara. Some Cuban composers of the Bolero are listed under Trova. In 1991 Mexican singer Luis Miguel recorded Romance, a selection of classic Boleros. The success of the album revived the interest for Bolero in the 1990s.

Bolero is one of the competition dances in American Rhythm ballroom dance category. The first step is typically taken on the first beat, held during the second beat with two more steps falling on beats three and four (cued as “slow-quick-quick”). This dance is quite different from the other American Rhythm dances in that it not only requires Cuban motion but also rises and falls such as found in waltz and contra body movement.

Our next first Thursday of the month dinner/dance evening will take place on September 3 at SaddleBrooke One in the Vistas Dining Room with the adjacent Vermilion Room dance floor beginning at 5:30 p.m. The following dinner/dance will take place October 8. Please come join us then as well as the weekly open dances/practices on Sunday afternoons (4:00-5:30 p.m.) at MountainView Ballroom and Wednesday afternoons (4:00-5:30 p.m.) at the Vermilion Room. If you didn’t make any of our five dinner/dances this last dance season, then plan to come out when we start up the new dance season with our first party on November 14, 2015.

You are invited to visit our Facebook page that we share with Let’s Dance; just type Let’s Dance in the search box on Facebook. Please feel free to share your own favorite dance story by writing me at [email protected].