Friday, October 31, 2008

Dancing The Foxtrot - Mastering The Feather Step And Three Step

The foxtrot is often considered the most beautiful as well as the most difficult to learn of all the ballroom dances. The dance is characterized by long, gliding and controlled steps to give it a drifty and unhurried appearance. The foxtrot is not named after the so called trotting movements of a fox as is sometimes mistaken but is named for its inventor Harry Fox who premiered the dance in New York, USA in 1914. Not surprisingly, this dance is called the fox step (fox as in vulpine) in China. When this dance was first introduced to China, the Chinese translated the word "fox" literally, and the name has stuck since.

The time signature for the foxtrot is 4/4 meaning there are 4 beats in a bar of music. The first & third beats are accented and the tempo is normally set at about 30 bars a minute. The dance figures consists of various combinations of "Slows" and "Quicks". Each "Slow" has 2 beats of music while the "Quicks" have 1 beat each. Beginners learning to dance the foxtrot are well advised to master 2 basic figures; namely the Feather Step and the Three Step. Once you have learned to dance these 2 figures well and coupled with good technique you will really enjoy dancing the foxtrot and find it not so difficult a dance to learn after all.

The Feather Step is a four-step figure with a SQQS timing. For the man the first step is taken with his RF forward. On the second step he places LF forward preparing to step outside partner, left side leading. On the third step he places his RF forward in CBMP outside partner. The fourth step is taken with his LF forward. The stepping outside partner on the third step has to be done correctly and "shaping" is important here otherwise an ugly hip movement will result. For the lady who is moving backwards, it is important to release the toe of the front foot from the floor as it commences to move back towards the supporting foot.

The Three Step as the name suggests is a three-step figure with a QQS timing. For the man the steps are - 1. RF forward, HT; 2. LF forward, TH; 3. RF forward, H. The figure should be danced with a slight right side lead on steps 1 and 2. For the lady the steps are - 1. LF back, TH; 2. RF back, TH; 3. LF back, T. A slight left side lead is used on steps 1 and 2. It is important to release the toe of the front foot from the floor as it commences to move back towards the supporting feet. If the foot moves back with the toe of the front foot in contact with the floor, the movement will be seriously restricted and not be smooth. Happy Dancing!

Related Post

> A Discourse On The Foxtrot By Aleksandr And Irina


Alain QUENOT said...


The timing of Three step is SQQ instead of QQS as said. Isn't it ?
Best regards

Dancesport Malaysia said...

Hi Alain,

The timimg of the Three Step is QQS.

Please check out "The Ballroom Technique" published by the Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing (ISTD).