The Bomba The History of the Dance

“The bomba” is a dance that originated in the area close to Mayagüez, Puerto Rico. Today, it is practiced in many parts of the country.
There are many ways to dance La bomba and each of these depends on what part of Puerto Rico it comes from. The people of each region have their own version of the dance, but the core steps are basically the same.

Video Text: When talking about Puerto Rican dance, there's no better start than the bomba. The different styles vary based on the parts of the island that they come from. The "sicá" is the most popular form that comes from Santurce, while the “guembé” originated in the south of the nation. Each representation reveals more of the creativity of the Puerto Rican people.

The instruments that are used for the bomba music are in the percussion family. They are called barrels; they are barrels of wood. The drums with the high pitches are called subidores or primos and the ones for the lower pitch are called buleador and segundo. There is a device that keeps time for the drums. They are called cuas and they are two barrels of wood that are banged on a wooden surface.

Originally, the bomba provided an outlet for spiritual expression as well as a form of freedom, but now the dance has developed into secular form. The bomba became a part of cultural urban life.
Created in colonial sugar plantations in 1680 by African slaves and their descendents, the bomba is the most pure African music genre. The roots of the bomba trace back to the Akan people of modern Ghana, the original ancestors of much of the Puerto Rican population.

Video Text: Known as "the patriarch of the 'bomba'", Rafael Cepeda was born in 1910 in Santurce, Puerto Rico. The bomba music and dance was passed down to him through tradition. With his wife and children, he formed the group "The Cepeda Family" which, for over 50 years, showed off his 600 original compositions, performing throughout the United States and Europe.

The lyrics are about life and community on the island of Puerto Rico. The history plays a major role in the lyrics as well. There are two types of music in regards to the bomba. There are those of double and triple meter. And, there are three rhythmic styles: sica, yuba, y holandes.

The women lift and shake their skirts while both them and the males improvise the rest of the dance. Additionally, the rhythms change. For example, one style from Santurce is called sicá, which is the most common. There's also the holandé, danced at a faster pace, from the same place. In Ponce, the belén is carried out, in which the rhythm is slower. Another style is the seis corridos from Loíza. This one, similar to the holandé, very fast and pronounced.


The Cepeda Family

Rafael Cepeda



Sheet Music


Report Abuse

If you feel that this video content violates the Adobe Terms of Use, you may report this content by filling out this quick form.

To report a Copyright Violation, please follow Section 17 in the Terms of Use.