Bomba dance forms
bailes de bomba

by Edgardo Díaz Díaz

Identifiable dance forms of bomba:

Dance master and folklorist Tato Conrad has described various dance forms used for a vast repertoire of toques:


A circle is formed with one couple taking its turn in the middle. Couples promenade with gestures of reverence, greeting each other as they walk around inside the circle and slowly get closer and closer to the musicians. Their movements and figures are reminiscences of old stately ballroom dances. As they stand closest to the ensemble, one lady and her partner take turns to perform solo dances in front of a drummer, each one repeatedly stumping and shuffling on the ground while forming figures and flourishes (piquetes), and as they challenge the drummer to follow their movements with drum beats. The above description is usually considered more or less generic. Due to its circular shape of pink or rose, this form is known as Leró.


Dancers perform tumba in a linear fashion, with men on one side and women on the other. Couples dance down a corridor created by two rows until they get closest to the musicians. They dance and do piquetes (first the lady bailadora, followed by the male partner (bailador) in front of the musicians. Then they return to the line so as to give way to the next partner. Everyone dances in succession, until they consume their turn. This type of format is called a tumba.


Dancers enact a duel. Two sticks (likely the cuás) are placed on the middle of the dance floor, or soberao, Sticks form a cross around which contending dancers attempt to grab the one located in the upper position of the cross. Whoever grabs the upper stick will act out the attack. The second dancer uses the remaining one to mimic his defense. Variants of kokobalé exist with or without sticks. The word kokobalé means “combat body to body.”


Content credits Center for Puerto Rican Studies
Image Credits: Cortesy of Edgardo Díaz Díaz| All Rights Reserved