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9. Cross-Body Lead
Fact Sheet
Official Name:Cross-Body Lead
Dance / Level:Intermediate Bronze American Style Cha Cha
Aliases:Crossbody Lead

Cross-Body Lead, the quintessential American style pattern, is a type of left-turning basic where the man turns away from the lady, leading her to pass in front of him while dancing across from one side of his body to the other. The cross-body position used in the pattern is one where the man and lady stand at right angles with the lady on the man's right side. While in this position, the man moves sideways to his left while the lady moves forward.

As shown in the man's and lady's charts, the pattern turns 1/2 to left overall, but the man and lady turn at different times. He turns first, taking 1/4 turn to left to end perpendicular to the lady -- cross-body position. Toward the end of the pattern, he turns another 1/4 to left while leading the lady to dance 1/2 turn in the same direction, and they thus return to closed position, having ultimately turned the same amount.

The Cross-Body Lead is a common pattern shared by many rhythm and nightclub dances, including Cha Cha, Rumba, Mambo and Salsa. In each case, it is danced to the basic rhythm of the dance. In Cha Cha, therefore, it is danced to 2,3,4&1 timing.

Following a normal closed position forward rock (2,3), the man turns 1/4 to left to dance a chasse to side, while leading the lady to dance a forward chasse or lock step in the same direction (4&1). Throughout the chasse, she remains at a right angle to the man in cross-body position, toward his right side. He then takes his back rock, causing her to step in front of him and pivot 1/2 to left (2,3). He turns 1/4 to left, and they end in closed position to take the final chasse (4&1).

The Cross-Body Lead can be danced in closed hold, or in open position with a one- or two-hand hold. In open position it is sometimes called a Side Pass.


Normally in closed position when the man turns to left or right, the lady will turn equally and remain in front of him. To successfully execute the Cross-Body Lead, the man must increase tone in the arms and extend them rightward as he turns to left, effectively turning away from his own hands, to indicate to the lady that she should not turn with him. This is how the cross-body position is achieved. To resolve the position to closed, the arms must then retract once again to the normal position.

Although not necessary, it is popular for leaders to drop the LH-RH hold to chest or even waist level. A word of caution, however: This lowered arm position should not be used as a "cue", in lieu of a genuine lead. The pattern is best learned in a normal dance hold before variations are introduced.

Lady's Chasse Variations and Footwork

In the lady's chart, her footwork is given as ball-flat for all 3 steps of the forward chasse over counts 4&1. However, she can also dance a forward lock, in which case her footwork will be ball-flat, ball, ball-flat. A third option, 3 small forward runs, gives her a couple of footwork options: Ball-flat for all 3 runs, or ball, ball, ball-flat. The two steps taken on the balls of the feet do not have any kind of rise; They are balls simply because the heels may not have time to lower completely.


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