Imagine you are sitting in the stands at a Spanish bull-fight. As the trumpet sounds, the matador (or bullfighter) enters the ring. He is both an artistic performer and a brave athlete. He is adorned in a custom-made suit, embroidered with gold or silver thread, accompanied by a live band. The music is Paso Doble, or the literal translation: “two-step.”
In the dance, the leader plays the part of the matador, and the follower is his red cape. Imagine again, the matador exuding an air of pride and superiority as he whips his cape with elegant flair. As the dance continues, the follower takes on the representation of the matador’s shadow, the bull itself, or one of a flamenco dancer.
A Dance Born from Bullfighting
Inspired by bullfights, Paso Doble is a theatrical dance about the preparation for combat and the celebration that follows. The dance is lively and dramatic, as if a story is unfolding with every aggressive step. Like bullfighting, Paso Doble is a challenging, yet rewarding dance. The tempo is sharp and dignified, but not too quick. Its beat is one per second. Much like the matador might stomp the ground to capture the bull’s attention, the lead dancer strongly stomps his foot to the beat. It is clear why the “two-step” refers to the marching nature of the steps. Paso Doble is also called “the dance of the master” because of the leader’s confident and assertive characteristics. It is always danced with the chest out and head held high.
Paso Doble is a performance dance, meaning it is rarely performed on a crowded dance floor. The dance requires a lot of space, so it is most often enjoyed in an exposition or competition. Few dances are as striking and artistic as Paso Doble, but it falls in the same category of dance as Samba, Cha-Cha, and Rhumba, as an International Latin dance.
A Dance With Rich History
Paso Doble was actually invented in Southern France, where its march-like steps were used in the military, coined “Paso Redoble”. The steps easily travelled to Spain because of their close proximity. Beginning in the 18th century, the “Paso Doble” was played during the matador’s entrance into the bullring. The Spanish ritual made its way back to France, where it was interpreted into a dance among the Parisian upper class. It wasn’t until the 1920s that bullfighting was choreographed into a performed dance as we know it today. The most famous Paso Doble music piece, the “Espana Cani,” by Pascual Marquina, was written in the twenties. Since 1945, Paso Doble has been a competition dance and a part of the World Dance Program since 1963.
Although Paso Doble is primarily a competition dance, it is sometimes seen in rare social settings, like in clubs and studios, specifically in Quebec and Ontario, as well as in Spain, France, Vietnam, Australia and Germany.
How We Teach Paso Doble
Paso Doble is fit for serious dancers with significant dance backgrounds. Anyone can achieve the dance, but we recommend beginners learn basic Latin movements first. At Arthur Murray, we begin slowly to establish a basic skill set, and then build on top of it. Intermediate to expert dancers are encouraged to push their comfort zones to achieve some of the most challenging, but remarkably fulfilling levels of dance.
Since Paso Doble’s choreography is challenging, the dance requires a multi-lesson schedule that is organized with enough time to develop all the steps. Learning the Paso Doble has a lot to do with acting. While it features quick, staccato steps, the body movements are dramatic. The “matadors” are taught arrogant manners, where they carry themselves in a strong and masculine character. The follower’s movements are soft, keeping distance from the matador, as he would hold out his red cape around him.
Arthur Murray Studios have Mastered the Paso Doble
We teach Paso Doble at Arthur Murray Dance Studio to carry on the legacy of one of the most historically riveting dances. Dance has no limits when it comes to personal expression, and dancers love coming to Arthur Murray because of the unique experience to communicate with body language. Whether you have a lot of experience, or close to none, sign up for your first class to see the difference dance will make in your life. It is not only a physical exercise, but a mental one. Let our expert, supportive and fun teachers lead you to improve your dance skills, your confidence, and your social life.