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Bolero Cross Body and Left Pass 

by Harold & Meredith Sears

In Bolero, we have two different figures that use one measure and three steps to move the woman from one side of the partnership to the other, maybe from the wall to center or from center back to the wall. The Cross Body and the Left Pass are similar in several ways:

  • They both begin with the lead foot.
  • They both turn the couple one-half left-face.
  • They both take one measure and three steps — slow, quick, quick.
  • They both make use of the Bolero "reaching" third step — slow side step rising, quick small step lowering (even "sitting" a little), and then quick reaching out and lowering to base level (don't just rock-recover on the quick-quick).
  • They both "milk" that second step to accommodate the reaching into the quicker third step — slow, quick, quicker.
  • And they both are gentle cozy figures, unlike the Whip that we know from Rumba.
But the Bolero Cross Body and Left Pass are different figures. What is the difference between them?

Cross Body— 

The Cross Body begins most gently in closed position, with lead feet free, and with the slow side step that is typical of so many Bolero figures (slow, quick, quick; rather than the quick, quick, slow of Rumba). We might be facing partner and wall. The man steps side and back left, turning left-face, and beginning to lead the woman across in front of him. She steps side and forward right to an L-position. His second step is back right with a slipping action that keeps him close to his partner, and she steps forward left turning 1/2 left to face the man. He ends with a forward left, she back right, to closed position facing center. 

Notice how close and gentle this figure is. Stepping side and back with the lead foot carries the man into the woman's path. His second step is a small slipping action, which keeps him close to her as she dances through him. And his third step is into her. This is a together figure, not an apart one. 

Left Pass— 

The Left Pass is even more cuddly than the Cross Body. We do begin in left open facing position, rather than closed. You might object — wait, we are farther apart; that's not cuddly. But our first step is forward for the man, not back. She steps forward, too, and wraps closely into his left arm. It works like this: 

We might begin with the man facing the wall. The man steps side and forward left turning a little right-face to a contra sidecar position facing reverse and wall, and he lowers his left and her right hands to lead her to step forward right and turn 1/4 sharply right-face. She might raise her left arm straight up (to get it out of the way and to add a bit of drama). She swivels on her right foot and turns her back to him, ending this first step in a partially wrapped, cuddly, tandem position. She might look back at him lovingly. Notice that he has not stepped back away from her but forward into her. From this cozy, flirtatious position, the man slips back on his right to face line and center, and the woman steps side and forward left with a strong left-face turn to momentary closed position facing reverse and wall. Finally, he steps forward left turning left-face, and she steps back right. 

We have two figures that move the woman from one side of the man to the other, but they are not the same figure. The Cross Body is a gentle figure done in closed position. And the Left Pass is even gentler and closer. Feel how the woman turns into the man's left arm, like an embrace, and then rolls softly across.

A version of this article was published in the Washington Area Square Dancers Cooperative Association (WASCA) Calls 'n' Cues, 50-5:9, 1/2010.


If you would like to read other articles on dance position, technique, styling, and specific dance rhythms, you may visit the article TOC.

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