History of Dances

International Style Paso Doble

The name 'Paso Doble' in Spanish means 'Two Step' (Smith, 1971, 416), and may be distinguished from 'Paso a Dos' which means 'Dance for two'. "Two Step" refers to the marching nature of the steps, which may be counted '1,2' for 'Left, Right'.

This may be contrasted with its description as the 'Spanish One Step', so called because only one step is taken to each beat of music (Burchfield, 1976, III / 293).

The Paso Doble was one of many Spanish folk dances associated with various facets of Spanish life. In particular, the Paso Doble is based on the Bullfight. It portrays the Torero and his cape, and is danced to the characteristic march music used for procession at the beginning of a corrida. Bullfights date back to ancient Crete, but only in the 1700s were they held in Spain (Pitkin, 1996,30). The dance itself became popular amongst the upper classes of Paris in the 1930's, and acquired a set of French names for many of the steps (Lavelle, 1975, 77).

The dance has still only limited popularity amongst English speaking society. The only places in Sydney where it is played regularly at social dances are the Italian and other European clubs.

The competition version of the Paso Doble is danced with a high chest, the shoulders wide and down, and with the head kept back but inclined slightly forward and down, ("keep watching that bull" urged my latin teacher). The weight is forward, but most forward steps have heel leads. Often it is choregraphed to the tune 'Espana Cani' (the Spanish Gypsy Dance), which has three crescendos in the music. These highlights are usually matched in the choreography by dramatic poses, adding to the spectacular nature of the dance.