The Cross Body Lead (CBL) sets up the stage for dancers to move about and use their dancing space well. All the travelling concepts build on the CBL. The most important characteristic of the CBL is its linearity, which clearly helps the novice dancers distinguish between On1/On2 dancing as opposed the more circular movement of the Cuban style.
The execution for the CBL differs for men and women. The man will first turn away from the lady, and she will walk “across” and pivot later. This results in the lady passing briefly in front of the man, giving the Cross Body Lead its name.
In terms of execution the CBL is simpler for the women than it is for men. However given the frequency with which men get to practically use the CBL while dancing it somewhat makes it the most important figure for the men.
Attached image helps visually understand the footwork both for the men and women.
(1,2,3): regular back basic
5: lady steps forward with left foot
6: Lady steps forward with right foot
7: lady pivots 180 degrees over the left shoulder and ends with left foot next to the right.
Don’t be eager to jump forward for the CBL unless you are absolutely sure of the man’s lead
Counts 5 and 6 are two progressive short steps
Avoid pivoting until count 7 to keep your movements sharp and to avoid any confusion of direction
1: step with left towards the lady (regular step)
2: right foot shifts out to the side | pivot on the foot to come in perpendicular to the lady’s frame
3: left foot next to right | finish the pivot from count 2 and end up outside the lady’s frame completely perpendicular to her frame.
5: check step (right foot almost in place)
6: lift the left foot and move it pointing towards the left from the existing position
7: resolution (right foot finishes next to left)
While stepping out on count 2 ensure not to step too far out
Avoid going to far back on count 5. The closer it remain to the left leg, the better.
On count 6 the left leg trails the distance the partner has travelled (however, distance can always be controlled by the resistance between partners)