Tuesday, January 5, 2010

The Paso Doble

The Paso Doble originated in Spain with the basic steps being essentially a type of march, or one-step which was composed to embody the color and excitement of the bull ring. Nevertheless France is where the Paso Doble developed in the ordinary social ballrooms. A simple version was danced in various parts of France but particularly in the southern region bordering on Spain. It then migrated to England. So naming of the figures is tri-lingual and being comparatively modern there is very little mystery about its origin apart from the exotic names in the syllabus.
Many of the syllabus figures have French names such as: Sur Place (on the spot); Deplacement (an abrupt movement); Huit (French for eight); Appel (to call - the Matador's call to the bull); Ecart (from the French word 'ecarter' meaning to separate); La Passe (to pass); Coup de Pique (the word 'pique' in French has several meanings, one of them being the injection of fat into cooking meat by way of a long hollow needle, a similar action to the final thrust of the sword into the bull on step 1 and its rapid withdrawal on step 3!).
Then we have English names such as: Sixteen (sixteen steps); Link (to join); Chasses (to move sideways); Chasse Cape (caping action using the chasses); Fallaway Slip Pivot as well as Open Telemark (taken from the Ballroom Syllabus).
And some Spanish names such as: Banderillas (hooked sticks used to goad the bull); Fregolina (the cape being whipped quickly behind the Torero).
Each figure tells a 'story'. The whole dance tells the story of the bullfight. It is a character dance and it must be danced with great style and great precision of footwork. The bullfight is a matter of precision - precise movements - and is a matter of life and death and this must be portrayed in the dance.
The gentleman portrays the Toreador, or the Matador or the Picador. The lady is a Flamenco Spanish dancer and often acts as the Matador' cape (she is never the 'bull').
Both dancers must adopt a very proud-looking and strong stance with a high arch of the back. The head is held in an upright position with the chin tucked in so the eye line is down toward the bull and its horns (the bull is never 6 or 7 feet tall especially when lowering its head to charge). The feet should be used firmly, with the knees very slightly flexed and there must be full control over the muscles of the legs. Footwork is usually heel flat for forward steps, ball flat for backward steps, and ball of foot or ball flat for side steps and closing steps. The hold is closer and higher than in Rumba and Samba but it is widened when dancing promenade figures.

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