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Round Dance Tips by Tim Eum—


The Foxtrot is one of the most popular of all round dance rhythms. A vaudeville actor named Harry Fox is credited with originating the dance in 1914, although that same year it was standardized in a somewhat less “trotting” and more rolling smooth style by the American Society of Professors of Dancing who hired Oscar Duryea to introduce their style to the public. This “new Foxtrot” was an instant hit and teachers such as Arthur Murray and Vernon & Irene Castle helped to popularize it. The elite of the dancing world adopted the foxtrot when the talented American, G.K. Anderson went over to London, and with Josephine Bradley won many competitions in 1920.

Ballroom foxtrot rhythm is basically, “Slow Slow Quick Quick” although some variations do use “Slow Quick Quick”. It is this later variation that round dancers use as the primary rhythm in the Round Dance Foxtrot.

In American Ballroom, the Bronze level of Foxtrot contains many figures that have a closing step after a side step. This is reflected in many Round Dance phase 3 Foxtrot figures such as Maneuver. However, at the Silver and Gold levels, a “continuity style” with passing steps instead of closing steps in used instead. This is reflected in Round Dance phase 4 and above Foxtrot figures such as Half Natural.

The Foxtrot is a “smooth” rhythm characterized by figures that blend smoothly and glide across the floor. Even in the realm of horse riding there is a gait known as the “Foxtrot” and it differs from the normal trot by never having all four feet in the air at once, never getting a jarring landing, and thus getting a much smoother ride.

A Few Specific Figures --

FORWARD & RUN 2 – Progress strongly and stay up on toes on the running steps.

Perhaps foxtrot music is so soothing that dancers relax. Many upon hearing “Forward and Run 2”, take tiny “baby” steps. However, doing this tends to hinder a couple’s forward momentum.

Instead, the dancer should consciously “push” into this figure, stretching out the first forward step and then getting up on the toes to rapidly Run 2.

Note that this figure can begin with either foot and can be done in any position (CP, BJO, SCP, SCAR, etc.). Normally you end in the same position that you started.

THREE STEP : Think of this figure as if it were a “Progressive Hover to Closed”.

Both “Forward and Run 2” and the “Three Step” are three progressive passing steps done in foxtrot timing (SQQ). So what’s the difference? The primary difference is simply styling.

In a Three Step, the first two steps are done with heel leads and only the last is on the toes. Thus in the three step you should only begin rising on the second step and reach full height at the beginning of the third step with a definite begin-to-lower feel on the third step. The Three Step will thus have a slight hovering or “roll over the hump” feel between the second and third step.

In the “Forward and Run 2”, the last two running steps are done such that you feel like you are staying at the same height fairly evenly.

The Three Step, just like a Hover, always begins with the lead foot. The Three Step always ends in closed position. It could start in banjo, but by the second step the couple should be in closed position and end that way.

HALF NATURAL - Last step is a NOT a close.

Do the first two steps of a Maneuver but the man steps back and the lady forward on the last step. The lady must do a heel turn on her second step. End in CP.

CURVING THREE STEP : Do almost all of the curving on the last step and very little on the first two of the figure.

Many do this as if it were a half circle – we recommend doing it more like a fishhook. By not turning as much on the first two steps you will get a smoother transition from the previous figure and you will be able to progress more. Make the last step a “left pivot” and you will be able to get as much turn as needed.

Tim Eum originally prepared these Tips for Calls 'n' Cues, (WASCA). Reprinted in the Dixie Round Dance Council (DRDC) Newsletter, November & December, 2011.


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