The Bolero was a dance far more noble, modest, and restrained as well as resembling but being shorter than the Fandango (which the Boléro replaced in popularity), and is executed by two persons (originally a single female). The Boléro was danced by a lady and gentleman or by several couples if one so desired. It was also arranged as a Quadrille at times, and used in the Ballet as well as danced at the opening of a ball.
The Boléro is composed of five parts ... namely:
1) The paseo: or promenade (around the ballroom,) which was kind of introduction.
2) The traversa (traversias): is a crossing, to alter the position of the places of the dancers, which is done both before and after the differencias, (a measure in which a change of steps takes place).
3) The differencias: or changes of steps, the dancers balancing themselves, execute their steps in place.
4) The finales: in which they go, they come and they pass by, which is succeeded by ...
5) The bien parado: a graceful attitude, or grouping of the couple who are dancing, in which the gentleman and his lady assume graceful attitudes, and remain facing each other, holding their partner's hand and raising it. Then each one rests a hand upon the waist of the other, but this movement is followed by a profound salute from the gentleman a salut prosterné, and a deep courtesy from the lady.
The Original Spanish Boléro was performed to a seguidilla (dance air, in triple time or a national song, etc.), with a peculiar rhythm, in the manor method. The guitar, or the pizzicato, is the instrument demanded by this dance. It being set to the time of 3/4. The music is extremely varied, and full of cadences. The air or melody of this dance may be changed, but its peculiar rhythms must be preserved, together with its time and its flourishes, which latter are also called "false pauses." The steps of the Spanish Boléro are performed terre à terre; they are either sliding, beaten, or retreating, being always as it were, clearly struck out.
The Seguidilla's Boléras is a name which was given when the Boleros were "sung" and accompanied by a guitar. The great difficulty of this dance consists in resuming the part called the paseo, which is immediately after the first part of the tune in the prelude of the accompaniment, which precedes the estribillo. The estribillo is that part of the couplet, not indeed where the moral is found, but which contains the epigrammatic point or turn. The Boléras is different from the Boléro, although the time is taken from the latter. It was generally used in the theaters when it was wished to represent Andalusian's or gay and animated peoples. The Boléras is rather a "dance-song" however, rather than a dance. Some authorities assert that the Boléro is the outcome of the Seguidilla's. The Seguidilla's (Poem) is a quicker dance than the Boléro and it is generally understood that when the Boléro or Fandango is danced in ballet form by eight people, it is called the Seguidilla's.
The SEGUIDILLAS TALEADAS: This dance is a species of the Bolero, mingled with some measures of the Cachucha performed to a Seguidilla (dance or Song.)
The Cuban Bolero version came to be around 1883 with José Pepe Sánchez composing 'Tristezas'. The Cuban Boléro is a different dance than the Spanish Boléro version, however the Cuban Boléro was very much derived from the old Spanish Boléro, but the music and rhythms changed (2/4) when it came to Cuba and is danced closer to a Rumba style.
The Mexican Bolero came to be around 1921 from Mexico.
The American Bolero: was made popular in the United States when French composer Maurice Ravel (1875-1937) wrote his composition in 1928 for Ida Rubenstein which was choreographed by Bronislava Nijinska. The first performance was on November 22, 1928, at the Paris Opera House and Ida danced it on a 'table-top.'
The Columbian Pasillo colombiano: done in 6/8 time closely resembles the Boléro.
The Bolero viejo o parado: style derived from the seguidilla.
The Valldemosa bolero: (Majorca, Spain) is the most popular in the Balearic Islands. The name parado (stopped) comes from the abrupt end of the dance.
The Boléro is still danced today and is a standard dance among the International ballroom (Dance Sport) dancers and is very exciting to watch.