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What Is Rebolation?

Dan Harkins
Dan Harkins

Born out of Brazilian rave culture and perpetuated by online video tutorials, the Rebolation dance is yet another bit of choreography that allows dancers to appear as if they are floating about the dance floor. The key is to take the Portuguese translation of Rebolation to heart when performing the dance; from the verb rebolar, the word means "to sway" or "to swing." Moving forward, the Rebolation dancer merely kicks his or her feet out in exaggerated fashion while walking, using the heels as a pivot for the turning of the opposing foot. In reverse, it is the balls of the feet that serve as a pivot point.

Performing the Rebolation takes a little practice, but not much. It is best to start with the forward movements. The left or right foot is kicked out abruptly to plant the heel, as the other foot is brought to a plant at a perpendicular angle. The lead foot is then planted by lowering the ball of the foot to the floor to a position that is perfectly parallel to the rear foot. The walk is then continued by kicking out the next natural walking step.

Woman painting
Woman painting

Moving backward requires a slight variation on the forward steps. A quick cross-kick to the rear, planting the ball of the foot, allows the dancer to pivot the lead foot in the opposing angle. That lead foot can then be swung backward and planted behind the other, also at an opposing angle. This motion allows for a fluid-looking rear movement.

The rest of the body remains rather upright and rigid during the most basic Rebolation steps. These two movements, however, form the cornerstone to several variations of choreography. The arms are rotated for balance and to convey a sense that the body is floating. Often, after a particular electronic song is well underway and the dancer has warmed up with some forward or backward steps, a variety of other moves are undertaken in the Rebolation style.

Some more advanced Rebolation moves involve more exaggerated kicks or shooting the body out toward the side instead of the front or back. Others involve quick turns or spins. Though the footwork is often flurried and intricate, the overall effect is a fluidity that seems to suspend gravity. This dance is a close cousin to some other rave staples, namely the boxed-in Melbourne shuffle or the moonwalk in break-dancing circles.

Discussion Comments


I remember hearing about the rebolation awhile ago. As the article said, it was pretty much popularized by online videos on several different video sharing sites. It really made me think about how much the Internet affects how things get popular.

I imagine that before the Internet, rebolation might not have made it out of Brazil. How would anyone know about it without seeing it on the Internet? And even if someone did happen to know about the rebolation, it would be pretty hard to teach yourself how to do it without the help of a video tutorial.


@sunnySkys - That's funny. I'm kind of dance impaired myself. I actually stumbled on a video of the rebolation awhile ago, and tried it in the privacy of my bedroom. It just wasn't happening!

However, I still enjoy watching videos of the rebolation online. If you do a search, you can find a few different videos that are pretty entertaining to watch. This is still fun even if you can't do the dance yourself. It really does look a little bit like the moonwalk (which I also can't do.)


I have a few friends who are breakdancers, and some of them do the rebolation from time to time. Someone in their extended circle of friends actually went to Brazil a few years ago and saw this dance done in a club. When he came back, he couldn't stop talking about it.

So, using the trusty Internet, some of them taught themselves how to do the rebolation dance steps. It wasn't that hard for them since most of them were already pretty well versed in several styles of dance.

For someone like me, who is totally dance impaired, I'm afraid the rebolation just isn't that easy.


If you pay attention it's called swing because the step is the charleston -- from the swing era.

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