If you travel to South America and you hear about bolero, you will find they mean something quite different from what we do in the USA. What we call bolero is technically American Bolero. To help differentiate between the boleros, I am referring to the South American variety as Brazilian Bolero. While Brazil may not be the only country that dances this variety, much of the development of how it is danced was done in Brazil.
I stumbled upon Brazilian Bolero a couple of years ago looking for some examples of American Bolero routines online. As soon as I saw it, it was love at first site (pun intended.)
I immediately wanted to learn this dance! Unfortunately, I was not in the position to catch the next flight to Rio. And the videos I could find? They were all in Brazilian Portuguese!
You can dance Brazilian Bolero to any music you can dance a rumba or American Bolero.
I could go on and on about how beautiful this dance is, but a picture paints a thousand words, and a video can replace a full dissertation.
You will see similarities to other dances. For example, instead of the traditional smooth or rhythm frame, you will see it uses something more like the embrace of Argentine Tango. The basic is a quick-quick-slow similar to a salsa, but it is executed very differently and also shifts to outside partner. There are fans and swivels and even pauses in the timing. The dancers are very focused on each other and on the music and in that way it is very intimate, but very comfortable rather than intense.
Jaime Ar˘xa is a larger-than-life figure in the dance community, not just in Brazil, but around the world. He is also known as the Godfather of Brazilian Zouk. There is a Jaime Ar˘xa School of Dance franchise; Jaime Ar˘xa Escola de Danša:
Much of the development of Brazilian Bolero can be attributed to Jaime Ar˘xa. In the following video, Jaime Ar˘xa is giving a demonstration of his Bolero:
Jaime also offers an intensive study program to train dance instructors. I have not been able to take advantage of this. However, I was fortunate enough to get a Bolero lesson with Jaime and his wife Kiri when they were appearing at an international dance festival in Reno. Kiri is also amazing, and comes to partner dancing from a background in ballet. Some quick searches for Jaime Ar˘xa and Kiri Chapman will net you some videos of some wonderful dancing.
Lidio Freitas was one of Jaime's top students for many years and also teaches around the world. The below is my favorite video of Lidio and his partner Monique Marculano dancing the Bolero:
I was also very lucky that Lidio was in the San Francisco Bay Area in the summer of 2019 and I was able to get a couple hours of instruction from him on the Bolero.
Lidio was assisted in his lessons with me by Alexis, who regularly can be found at Studio M in Santa Clara. If you are in that area, this is another place you can learn Brazilian Bolero. So if you are heading over to the South Bay, you might want to check out the studio while you are there.
An example of some nice lead and follow:
This is a couple of dancers doing a demonstration, just lead and follow, nothing planned:
The Ballroom of Sacramento will be offering group classes and private lessons to get you started in your Brazilian Bolero. Check the schedule on the website or call and speak with someone. If we know you are interested, we can make this dance more available to you!
Links to Jaime Ar˘xa's Dance Academies and Studios