The Origins of the Bolero School

Edited by Javier Suárez-Pajares and Xoán M. Carreira

Translated by Elizabeth Coonrod Martínez, Aurelio de la Vega, and Lynn Garafola
English version edited by Lynn Garafola

engraving of spanish dancing coupleLa escuela bolera, the bolero school, ancestor of what became known as Spanish national dance, arose in the last third of the eighteenth century. The roots of the form were popular, but from the start it incorporated elements of theatrical dance styles absorbed from the many Italian and French performers who crisscrossed the country after 1750. The occupation of Spain by the French in 1808, during the Napoleonic Wars, brought a halt to this process of cultural hybridization, resulting in a dance idiom with a strong, eighteenth-century Spanish flavor.

This new dance, the bolero, became immensely popular, and in certain quarters of Spanish society it was viewed as upholding traditional values that had been challenged by ideas of the Enlightenment. The social and political forces that attended the rise of the bolero had consequences that extended well into the nineteenth century, affecting not only the history of the dance itself but also attitudes toward national styles of Spanish dance generally.

This complex story is told with grace and acumen in The Origins of the Bolero School. Edited by Spanish scholars Javier Suárez-Pajares and Xoán M. Carreira, it examines the early development of the bolero from an unusually broad range of perspectives, including essays by Antonio Cañibano and Enrique C. Ablanedo in addition to articles written by the editors. Generously illustrated with period material, the volume is augmented by primary texts reproduced in their original Spanish, French, and English and by two source lists: one of the "exotic" or foreign dancers active in Spain from 1750 to 1800, the other of ballets performed at Madrid’s principal theaters in the 1780s and 1790s.

Javier Suárez-Pajares is a musicologist, guitarist, and professor at the Universidad Complutense de Madrid. Xoán M. Carreira is a free-lance researcher specializing in the history of opera and ballet between 1750 and 1848.

Title: The Origins of the Bolero School
Editors: Javier Suárez-Pajares and Xoán M. Carreira
Pub date: 1993
8.5 x 11 in., 140 pp., 32 illus.
ISBN 0-9653519-5-5

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