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Quickstep -- An Introduction

Joyful, Light, and Airy (Who, Me? Are You Kidding?)

by Bruce & Kristine Nelson

Quickstep -- a wonderful dance rhythm where dancers move quickly around the dance floor performing runs, chasses, and locks, all while appearing to be light as air. No really! It is possible to dance quickly and also be in control.

Origin: The Quickstep dance rhythm was developed in the 1920s from a combination of Foxtrot, Charleston, Shag, One-Step, and Peabody dance crazes. In that era, Foxtrot was danced quite quickly, and the kicks & hops of Charleston and Shag were added, along with runs and locks. Foxtrot then slowed, evolving into “Slow” Foxtrot, and the quicker version became Quickstep. Although modern ballroom emphasizes hops, kicks, and skips, these are minimized in Round Dancing.

Characteristics: Elegant, smooth, and glamorous, Quickstep is a dynamic, energetic rhythm with dancers moving lightly and freely on their feet. Distinctive to the Quickstep is an up-and-down, rise-and-fall swinging motion performed at a fast pace.

Music: Music used for Quickstep includes Big Band or Ragtime, show tunes, jazz, or swing and often includes syncopations. The music is 4/4 time (four beats per measure), usually with the first and third beats accentuated.

Tempo/Speed: Quickstep is generally danced slower in Round Dancing than in modern ballroom where the music is played at a tempo of 48-52 measures per minute (mpm).

Dance Position/Frame: Upper body posture must be straight and strong throughout each figure. Poise is slightly forward so that the body weight is balanced over the front part of the foot. Quickstep is danced primarily in Closed Position. Dancers must commit to maintaining a strong frame that enables good execution, particularly during turning figures. There is also significant use of CBM (Contra Body Movement) and CBMP (Contra Body Movement Position), particularly in the locks and chasses.

KEY POINTS!

Movement: Since Quickstep is usually danced at a faster tempo than Foxtrot, steps are not as long, and rise is not so prolonged. Dancers need to dance lightly on the feet using the ankles as much as possible (like shock absorbers) to accomplish rise and fall. In general, most of the "slow" steps (or passing steps) are taken on the heel, while most "quick" steps are taken on the balls of the feet (closing or locking steps). Slow forward steps are heel leads rising to the ball of the foot if followed by a quick. A slow at the end of a figure such as a chasse or lock is to the ball of the foot, then lower to the heel. Lowering action should always be soft and gradual, creating a smooth and graceful feeling (not a quick drop or “klunk”). Slow backward steps are to the ball of the foot then lowering to the heel.

Figure Patterns: The basic rhythm is SQQS (1 1⁄2 measures), thus often crossing measures. In Round Dancing, figures from other rhythms, such as Foxtrot and Waltz, are often added using SSS (particularly for rotating figures) and Q&Q timing. Figures are also based on SQQ, QQS, and SSQQS. Choreographic variations and advanced figures may utilize split beats, such as Q&Q&QQS.

Here are some simple amalgamations [8 measure sequences]:


Sample Amalgamation #1

Sample Amalgamation #1

CP Wall Hover SCP

SS; S~

CP LOD 1 L Turn

SQQ;

Thru Chasse BJO

S; QQS;

Back (Progressive) Chasse BJO

SQQ; S~

Forward

S~

Forward

S;

Fwd Lk Fwd

QQ; S~

Fwd Lk Fwd

QQS;

Maneuver Sd Close

S; QQ~

Maneuver Sd Close

SQQ;

Spin Trn Overturn to Wall

S; SS;

Pivot 2

SS;

Back Half Box

SQQ;

Dip Recover

SS;

Our conclusion -- YES, OF COURSE! You can learn and enjoy Quickstep. It’s fun! It’s lively! The music is great! And you will have a great sense of accomplishment! Go for it!


From clinic notes prepared for the ROUNDALAB Convention, June 2011, and reprinted in the Dixie Round Dance Council (DRDC) Newsletter, March 2014.



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