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It is a circular movement where two people, who are initially facing each other, walk around each other without or almost without turning, i.e., facing in the same direction (same wall) all the time. In most cases it takes 6-8 counts to complete.
The movement is basically defined by as follows:
- Dancers advance and pass right shoulders.
- Without turning each dancer moves to the right passing in back of the other dancer. At this moment the partners face away from each other.
- Then moving backwards dancers pass left shoulders returning to starting position.
The actual steps vary in specific dances.
Considering the amount of space in which to accomplish the figure, the partners might adjust their shoulders slightly diagonally to allow for less sideways movement during the shoulder passes.
The advancing pass may also be by the left shoulders, although it will be called as a "left do-si-do" or a "see-saw".
While executing this move, the girls may move their skirts with their hands from side to side (skirtwork), flaring it to the right as right shoulders pass, and to the left as left shoulders pass. Men may decide to place their arms on top of each other, in a style very similar to Russian Folk Dancing.
Spelling usage by different dances
In modern western square dancing, the usual spelling is Dosado (used by Callerlab, the largest international association of square dance callers) or DoSaDo (used by the American Callers Association).
Dos-a-dos is still in current use in conjunction with a number of other dances.
Styling traditions, or the addition of flourishes to a basic step, tend to be local, and not all dancers like to do styling, but nevertheless a common styling done to the dosado is the "Hungarian Swing" or "Highland Fling" styling. This addition to the basic step is accomplished as follows:
- The two people, who are initially facing each other, step forward as if they will pass each other by the right shoulder (as in a normal Dosado), but they stop momentarily when they are right hip-to-right hip
- They stretch right arms across each other and place right hands on each other's waist, simultaneously they lift left arms up with left hands above their own heads, in what is perceived as a "Highland Fling" position
- They pivot around 360° together, rotating on the balls of their inner feet
- They release hand holds and lower arms into a neutral stance, and adjust slightly backwards so they are facing each other
Even with styling the move should take no longer to execute than a normal Dosado.
In contra dance it is common for experienced dancers to embellish the move by making one or more counterclockwise turns as they go around the other dancer.
The Dosado can also be fractionalized— 1/4 Dosado results in the active dancers standing side-by-side right hip-to-right hip, 1/2 Dosado results in the active dancers standing back-to-back, and 3/4 Dosado results in the active dancers standing side-by-side left hip-to-left hip. When standing side-to-side the dancers join adjacent hands palm-to-palm to make a mini-wave (in the case of two people), an ocean wave (in the case of three-six people), or a tidal wave (in the case of eight people).
A Dosado 1½ would be a full (or normal) Dosado and an additional 1/2 Dosado, resulting in the dancers standing back-to-back. Dosado variants are often considered entertaining "gimmicks".
- Oxford English Dictionary, s.v. "do-se-do, n.", "vis-à-vis, n., prep., and adv.".
- See, for example, Merriam-Webster's, Oxford Dictionaries, Longman Dictionary, American Heritage Dictionary
- Contra Dance and Song Society, "Contra Dance Repertoire"
- See, for example, CALLERLAB, "Abbreviated Definitions Basic/Mainstream", in "Dance Program Documents", 2013.
- American Callers Association, "ACA New One Floor List, p. 1.