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bolero (bəlârˈō), national dance of Spain, introduced c.1780 by Sebastian Zerezo, or Cerezo. Of Moroccan origin, it resembles the fandango. It is in 2–4 or 3–4 time for solo or duo dancing and is performed to the accompaniment of castanets, guitar, and the voices of the dancers. Ravel's Bolero is in this rhythm.
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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



A Spanish native dance that has a moderate tempo and a three-beat rhythm. A series of constantly repeating rhythmic figures is characteristic of the bolero. It is danced to the accompaniment of guitar and drum, and the dancers themselves sing and beat out complicated triplet rhythms on castanets. It exists in various regional versions—for one, two, or more dancers.

The bolero appeared around 1780 and from the early 19th century was danced on the stage. Boleros have been the form of individual numbers in operas (by E. N. Méhul, D. F. Auber, H. Berlioz, and K. M. Weber), ballets (P. I. Tchaikovsky, L. Delibes), romances (M. I. Glinka, A. S. Dargomyzhskii, and L. Delibes), and instrumental plays (F. Chopin, I. Albéniz, and M. Ravel).

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


1. a Spanish dance, often accompanied by the guitar and castanets, usually in triple time
2. a piece of music composed for or in the rhythm of this dance
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005


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