Stomp!


Disclaimer: All the information presented here is researched and can be found on the appropriate Wikipedia page or on About.com.  I will give links to both.  I also do not own the video in this post.

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Have you ever had someone ask you this question?  “Describe x in one word?”  Well, if you were to ask me to describe this dance in one word, it would definitely be stomp.  It fits well enough, and it was the first word that came into my head as I danced in group class today.  I was quite eager for this particular class because it feature a dance I had never done before: the Paso Doble.  Even better, this class is going to be continuous all month-long.  Every Wednesday at 8:30 pm, students have the option of attending a progressive class.  Of course, it behooves the students to attend each class because the material expands.  July’s progressive class was WCS.  In honor of this class, I would like to present my readers with some information on the Paso.  For the Wikipedia article, click here. The About.com article is here.

First, I think it is very important to differentiate between the music and the dance.  The music for this dance was traditionally played in Spain during the bullfights when the matador entered the ring, called the paseo, or during the final passes before the bull was killed, the faena.  The dance itself is choreographed in relation to the bullfight.  Though the music and choreography are distinctly Spanish, the Paso was actually developed in France in the 1930s.  Therefore, the terms for the steps are French.  In ballroom, this is an exclusively competitive dance. A proper Paso is danced to the España Cañi.  Roughly translated, it means “Spanish Gypsy”.  It may seem odd to only play one song for one dance, but as About.com puts it,

The Spanish Gypsy Dance  has become the universal anthem of the Paso Doble.

I can hardly imagine a Paso being danced to any other song.  Apparently, I am a member of the majority.  This song can vary in arrangement, tempo, etc.  If you are curious just type it in on YouTube, and you can listen to various musical interpretations of this song.  Sadly, a most of the Paso Dobles danced on “Dancing with the Stars” are not danced to this song.  It just feels…wrong.  This song is adequate enough, but perhaps that show was never really meant to be a true portrayal of ballroom dancing at all.  Griping aside, if you listen to the song carefully you will find that the beat is a very simple eight-count.  There is also plenty of room for musical interpretations with breaks, emphases, etc.  Ah, I adore the strength and passion in the music!  So, what are the man and woman’s role in this dance?

Our teacher said that the man’s role in this dance is strong, almost arrogant.  He is the matador.  There are a lot of strong lines he makes to accentuate his physical presence.  The women, well, we’re the cape, so I guess our lines are a bit more fluid?.  I was a bit dubious of my role at first.  “Wait, I’m a piece of cloth.  How exciting can that be?”  It was more exciting than I though it was.  Actually, it was pretty dang cool.  Now, for the more potentially more boring part of this post, I have to write down the general tips for the Paso.  I never know when I might run into the Paso again.

  • This dance is odd.  The man starts on his right while the woman starts on her left.
  • As previously mentioned, this dance is counted in eight beats.
  • Posture is mostly thought of as straight and upright.  For Paso, the pelvis needs to be forward.  That means one’s bum is tucked more under the body than when one stands straight up.
  • The lady’s right wrist faces outward in the beginning of the dance.
  • Bending from your upper half during shaping comes strictly from the ribs.

I am pretty sure that there is much more in the way of general notes, but this was only my first class.  If any more experienced dancers spot an error, please kindly correct me in the comments.  Learning something new excites me, and this is definitely one of the more exciting things I have learned this summer.  I wait in eager anticipation for next Wednesday as August winds down. ‘Twill be a wonderful way to end my vacation before school starts.

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P.S.: My next post about my private lesson should be up sometime tomorrow or on Friday. 

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