Meredith & Harold

ROUND DANCING — CHOREOGRAPHED BALLROOM

EDUCATIONAL ARTICLES

MAJOR SECTIONS: Figures | Articles | Links | Alph. Index | Search | Home

BROWSE
Figures in the Smooth Rhythms
Foxtrot
Quickstep
Waltz
Viennese Waltz
International Tango
American Tango
Two Step
Five Count
One Step
Polka
Rhythm
Figures in the Latin Rhythms
Cha Cha
Rumba
Jive
Single Swing
West Coast Swing
Lindy
Hustle
Bolero
Slow Two Step
Mambo
Salsa
Samba
Argentine Tango
Merengue
Paso Doble
Dance Articles
Articles Home

Dance Figures

Dance Rhythms
Lead and Follow
Dance Styling
Fred Astaire Album
Other Sections
Dance Links
Music Clips For Each Rhythm
Instructional Books and Videos from Amazon
Search Site/Web
Sources
Contact Me

Paso Doble

by George & Mady D'Aloiso

BACKGROUND

The Paso Doble dates back to centuries ago, in its classical form. Paso Doble music (originally intended for use at bullfights when a toreador was victorious in the ring) adapted itself so beautifully to the dance that villagers danced to the gay, lively music for hours on end.

Americans first viewed the Paso Doble when Flamenco dancers used this music to dance the role of a toreador. It has been a favorite (in its ballroom version) since the 1930s. In the ballroom version of the Paso Doble, the gentleman portrays the toreador and the woman is his cape.

In the Paso Doble, "shuffling along" simply won't do. Easy though it is to perform, the pleasures of dancing it cannot be realized fully until one begins to acquire proper styling. A most helpful aid in acquiring the proper styling is to visualize the pageantry of the toreadors, as they make their entry into the bullring -- visualize the marvelously "pulled-up" torsos that create the proper stance -- visualize the arms and head held high, the arched back.

While the round dancers' version of the Paso Doble is not a literal reenactment of the bullfight, some of its steps bear a close resemblance to actual maneuvers and passes of the cape used by the bull fighter.

TIMING, COUNT, AND TEMPO

Paso Doble music is usually written in 4/4 time (and many in 2/4 time) and should be played at a tempo of 29 to 31 measures per minute (58 to 62 m/m for 2/4 music). The music can be written in 3/4 and 6/8 time. The Paso Doble music with that timing is rarely done and for the purposes of this article, that timing will be ignored.

PHRASING

It is desirable for each figure or group of movements to commence at the beginning of a musical phrase. This is simply achieved by a sensible use of the "linking" figures, namely Sur Place, Basic Movement, and Chasses.

STYLE

Most dancing is divided into two categories, smooth and rhythm. In the smooth category, we have Waltz, Foxtrot, Tango??, Quickstep, Peabody, Viennese, etc. Smooth dancing is typified by heel leads and gliding. In the rhythm category, we have Cha, Rumba, Mambo, etc. Rhythm dancing is typified by flat and ball/flat footwork and with piston-type leg action. Paso Doble is kind of in the middle of these two types of dancing. One caution is not to use any Cuban hip motion.

The Paso Doble is a progressive dance moving along the line of dance, but many of the figures are danced in place. A staccato movement of the feet, rise and fall, pulled-up torso, and dramatic movements of the head, arms, and hands highlight the style of the Paso Doble.

HOLD AND USE OF ARMS

The use of highly stylized Flamenco arm movements in the Paso Doble will add greatly to polished technique. Correct positioning of the arms and hands is extremely important if a dramatic effect is to be achieved. The classic Flamenco arm positions feature an acute bend at the elbows to create strong lines, arms held high and away from the body, fingers extended sharply. In direct contrast to the classic Flamenco arm positions is the more current modern Flamenco arm positioning, which features completely straightened arms (no bend in the elbows), but retains the fully extended finger position of the hands.

The following is one interpretation of Flamenco use of hands and feet: Stand facing partner, head erect and body upright, about six inches apart when in closed position. The man should place his right hand on the woman's left shoulder blade, the woman resting her left arm lightly on his right arm following the curve of his arm to the shoulder. The woman should place the fingers of the right hand between the man's thumb and first finger, and the hands should be lightly clasped. The joined hands (man's left and woman's right) are raised to eye-level with the arms gently curved.

When in promenade (SCP) or counter promenade (RSCP), the hold is widened until the couple are about nine to twelve inches apart. If it is not practical for the man to retain hold with his right hand on the woman's back, he may slip his right hand to the top of her left arm. In promenade the joined hands (man's left and woman's right) are usually lowered to about chest level with the arms gently curved, while in counter promenade they are usually raised to just above the level of the head with the arms gently curved.

Always remember the Paso Doble depicts the bull fight with the man as the matador and the woman the cape, therefore a proud stance should be maintained throughout.

USE OF FEET

The use of Flamenco footwork is intended to create accent and to give an appearance of authenticity to the dance. The three basic movements of the feet are heel movements, ball-of-the-foot movements, and stomp (whole foot) movements. They may be danced individually or in combination. They may be danced with or without change of weight.

CONTRA BODY MOVEMENT

Slight contra-body movement may be used on forward or backward marching steps. This is the turning of the opposite hip and shoulder to the foot that is moving forward or back.

NOTE

Most figures in Paso Doble are constructed with the man commencing with his right foot on the first beat. However, in some advanced figures it is necessary for him to step with his left foot on the first beat. The woman will dance the normal opposite.


From clinic notes prepared for the annual RAL convention, 1990, and published in the ROUNDALAB Journal, summer 1990.



dingbat




If you would like to read other articles on dance position, technique, styling, and specific dance rhythms, you may visit the article TOC.



If you are not a member of DRDC, do consider joining. The group sponsors triquarterly weekends with great dancing and teaching, and the newsletter is one of the most informative available.

Past DRDC Educational Articles archived here.

Aditional articles and dance helps by
Sandi & Dan Finch
Richard Lamberty
Gert-Jan & Susie Rotscheid (see Notebook)



Go beyond this site. Good instructional books and videos, both new and used, are available at low prices from Amazon. Find other references on our Sources and Links pages.










Alphabetical Index to
Figures
and Technique
Dance
Figures
Dance
Articles
Dance
Search
Dance
Links
Dance
Home
Glossary of Terms
and Abbreviations
Fred Astaire
Album
Reader
Comments
Dance
Videos & Books
Sources Harold Sears
Home
Online since 2001 İHarold and Meredith Sears, Boulder, CO, harold@rounddancing.net. All rights reserved.