History of foxtrot
Foxtrot: American, International, Social, and Quickstep
American and International; Foxtrot and Waltz
Bronze level American Foxtrot
Slows and quicks
The actual timing for basic QS is SQQS, and the quicks are taken lightly though the ankles following a swing action that creates rise. The last S is used to allow the dancer to compress into the floor; some call this a "collection" of the weight. This sets the body up for the next CBM and swing actions that follow (normally). Social Fox Trot and Bronze American do not normally emphasize the CBM and subsequent swing. It is more concerned with stepping on balance, dancing on time, and being over the correct foot. [Michael Champion]
Around here (Silicon Valley), begining social Foxtrot is taught with a SSQQ, but advanced dancers are taught SQQ. I believe (but could be totally mistaken, because I have never competed in ballroom) that American Ballroom competitions use SSQQ for the patterns used by Bronze level dancers, and SQQ for the patterns that Silver and higher level dancers are given/taught/permitted to use in competitions. [JC Dill]
Six counts per pattern, four counts per measure?!
I'm a total novice when it comes to ballroom dancing, but I've taken a few short lessons, and I really like it. I have a question about the foxtrot, specifically the timing of the steps. Foxtrot music is in 4/4, but I can only get three beats out of these steps: Beat 1 is for slow step #1, Beat 2 is for slow step #2, and Beat 3 is taken up by the two "eighth note" quick steps.
What do I do on Beat 4? Do I pause? [John Ambrose]
You start over.
This is an example of an "unphrased dance". Foxtrot, c/w 2 step, and most forms of swing are "unphrased" in that the basic pattern of the dance takes up either 3 or 6 beats of music (depending on how you count) and thus doesn't exactly match to a phrase of music (4 or 8 beats of music, again, depending on how you count).
In foxtrot (and c/w 2-step) the steps match to the music like this:
s s qqs s qqs s qqs s qqs
This can also be counted:
1 2 3 4 1 2 3 4 1 2 3 4 1(repeating now)
s s qqs s qqs s qqs s qqs
so after 3 phrases of the music, you are back in step, but that actually doesn't really matter! (strange, isn't it?) In these dances you don't worry about being in phrase with the phrasing of the music, just with the beats of the music. You'll get into phrasing later in your dance education by learning how to select certain moves that let you do a "highlight" when the music does a highlight. [JC Dill]
How to step slows and quicks
Although the fundamental timing of Fox Trot could be thought of as SQQ, it is actually more intriguing to consider it as QQS starting on the 2nd beat of the measure! The timing for a Fox Trot sequence with a left foot prep step, followed by a feather step, would then be S(41) Q(2) Q(3) S(41), where the second slow is used for the passing of the legs outside partner, and the collection and preparation for the ensuing reverse turn or three step. Although the timing can be considered as QQS, musical expression makes it less cut-and-dried then this, as the quicks are not truly one beat and the slows are not two beats. It is the melting of the lengths of the beats that allows Fox Trot to have its smooth, flowing character.
But the key is that the SLOW in a SQQ musical figure actually starts being danced on the 4th beat of the preceding measure and doesn't end until almost the end of the first beat of the next measure, and that Slow is used to allow the passing of the legs and side of the body, subsequent compression and resolution, and finally the necessary shaping for the next figure. By the way, this technique is used by several world-class dancers, which is why their legs look so slow and even compared to most Americans, who tend to have a shorter, quicker leg actions, particularly on the outside-partner steps (because they dance their Fox Trot as SQQ). [Michael Champion]
> Are you suggesting that we should dance the slow across the bar as in
> rumba (I assume not) or simply that we should re-label the beats so that
> what in reality is one-two, three, four is counted four-one, two, three?...
The current fashion in foxtrot is to delay the first Slow step of some figures. Specifically, the moving foot does not hit the ground until well after the first beat of the bar. Hence the similarity with rumba, where the steps are taken on beats 2-3-4. A 'strict-tempo' foxtrot sqq would be on 1-3-4. [Edwin Spector]
Let's take a specific example, the feather step, so we can keep the steps straight.
- The forward step on the right foot, formerly one-two, is now just two.
- The forward step onto the left toe, formerly the three, is still the three.
- The forward step outside partner on a rise, formerly the four, is now four-one, and extends across the bar.
So yes, a step should be danced across the bar as in Rumba, but it's not the slow, it's the outside partner step on the second quick, which is now extended to two beats ('borrowing' one beat from the subsequent slow).
I personally don't think that a straight beat equivalence is the best way to learn this action. People trying to learn it often reach full extension on the rise well before the one beat, and if they try to force themselves to delay the foot placement until the 'one', the movement goes off balance. Instead, just try to extend your action while on the rise as far as you comfortably can, and lower whenever you get to full extension. For example, you can count 'two, three, and drift', with the 'drift' coming anywhere between the four beat and the one beat depending on how much of a nice drifting action across the floor you got. [Warren Dew]
Contents of the r.a.d. FAQ
This file is part of the FAQ list for the newsgroup rec.arts.dance. The FAQ list is being maintained by Victor Eijkhout (victor at eijkhout dot net, talk about vanity), who appreciates being sent additions or corrections on the material in this collection. Copyright 1994/5/6/7/8/9/2000 lies with the maintainer and the contributors of various parts.
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Last modified on: 2000, Saturday December 23.