Bolero was originally a dance that developed in late 18th century Spain. The slow tempo dance was performed as alone or with a partner, accompanied by song, castanets, guitars, and tambourines. it wasn't until 1883 in Santiago, Cuba where José Pepe Sánchez composed the first bolero titled “Tristezas.” When the Bolero reached Cuba, it was influenced by Afro-Cuban music styles - making it different and distinct from the Spanish version. The formerly slow, danceable love song became a bit more energetic. The Cuban version spread to Mexico and other parts of Central America having more influence than the Spanish version. The bolero song tradition was greatly influenced by Cuban storytelling-songs of travels called "trova". Boleros songs became extremely popular since the 1950s throughout Latin America. The dance of the Cuban bolero did reach the U.S. in the form of ballroom dance.
Check out this awesome performance by one of our students!