Round Dance Tips by Tim Eum—
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
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
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.
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
A Few Specific Figures --
& RUN 2 – Progress strongly and stay up on toes on the running
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.
the dancer should consciously “push” into this figure, stretching
out the first forward step and then getting up on the toes to rapidly
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”.
“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.
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.
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.
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.
NATURAL - Last step is a NOT a close.
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.
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.
If you would like to read other articles on dance position, technique, styling, and specific dance rhythms, you may visit the article TOC.
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Sandi & Dan Finch
Gert-Jan & Susie Rotscheid (see Notebook)
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