Learn the Paso Doble Dance

Spanish Dancing Basics

Spanish dancer
A Woman Dancing the Paso Doble. Pilar Azaña Talán / Getty Images

The Paso Doble, or Pasodoble, is a lively dance modeled after the drama of the Spanish bullfight. In Spanish, "Paso Doble" means "two-step" and refers to the marching nature of the steps. This theatrical dance has an interesting background that involves role-playing of sorts.

Paso Doble Characteristics

At its core, the Paso Doble is a dramatic Spanish dance. Traditionally, the man is characterized as the matador (bullfighter) and the lady as his cape in the drama of a Spanish bullfight.

The dancers may choose to enact the role of the torero, Picador, banderillero, bull, or Spanish dancer. They can also change roles throughout the dance. Based on Flamenco dancing, the Paso Doble is both arrogant and passionate in its portrayal. The Paso Doble is performed more as a competition dance than as a social dance, and it is also taught and performed under the International Latin genre, which includes, cha-cha, samba, rumba, and jive.

Paso Doble History

The Paso Doble originated in southern France and began gaining popularity in the United States in the 1930s. Because the dance developed in France, the steps of the Spanish Paso Doble actually have French names, which is interesting considering its Spanish roots. In France, it was known as the "Paso Redoble."

The Paso Doble in Action

One of the most dramatic of all the Latin dances, the Paso Doble is also a progressive dance. In the Paso Doble, dancers take strong steps forward with the heels and incorporate artistic hand movements.

The forward steps, or walks, should be strong and proud. The man should also incorporate apel, a move in which he strongly stamps his foot, much like a matador strikes the ground in order to capture the attention of the bull. All moves of the Paso Doble should be sharp and quick, with the chest and head held high to represent arrogance and dignity -- again, much like a traditional bullfight.

Distinctive Paso Doble Steps

The dance consists of several dramatic poses that are coordinated with highlights in the music. The body is held upright with the feet always directly underneath it, and strong in posture and position. The following dance movements are distinctive to the Paso Doble:

  • Sur Place (on the spot)
  • Separation
  • Attack
  • Huit
  • Open Promenade to Open Counter Promenade
  • Spanish Line
  • Promenade Close
  • Flamenco Taps

The Rhythm and Music of the Paso Doble

Paso Doble music has strong Flamenco influences, so it will sound similar to Flamenco music. The bold, inspiring music has a simple 1-2-1-2 march rhythm, with very few rhythm changes. The tempo of Paso Doble music is usually a brisk 60 beats per minute. The Spanish Gypsy Dance has become the universal anthem of the Paso Doble, though Sombreros y Mantilles, Suspiros de España, Que Viva España, and  Valencia are also common Paso Doble songs.