Some Basic Foxtrot Technique
& Warwick Armstrong
and fall in Foxtrot is different from all of the other smooth rhythms.
The rise and fall in Foxtrot will happen more through the actions of
the movement rather than a conscious effort to create the rise and
fall. Foxtrot is more about swing and sway rather than lower and rise.
We have seen the expression used where Waltz is described as a child’s
swing, where Foxtrot is more about a monkey swinging from vine to vine.
Dancing the Foxtrot will demonstrate smooth travel through space of the
upper body. Let's look at these ideas in relation to the foxtrot Three
Step, Feather, Reverse Turn, and Feather Finish.
Three Step – more than just three steps
A rare movement where the men will have two heel leads. To keep this
nice and level without the body popping up, the heel of the standing
foot will not come off the floor until the moving foot is about to pass
the standing foot going forward. Going backwards it is the ball of the
foot that will not leave the floor until the moving foot passes. Simple
to say, but harder to consciously do. We want to move the body so that
when we put the foot down, it will land with the big toe under the
front of the chest (men, think under your tie), rather than moving the
foot and having the body catch up. The swinging leg will move in a
forward direction so that it neither crosses over the path of the
standing leg or opens the leg like you are commencing a turn.
Feather – one of the most common movements, used by the beginner and the most experienced ballroom competition dancer alike
Man – commences with the right foot. We think of the rise being created
more by the right leg swinging past the left rather than through the
ankle. We compress into the standing left leg. The standing heel only
releases from the floor as the right foot passes (beat one). The foot
will go directly under the lady. Our rotation is complete at the end of
the second beat, or slightly after, as the right heel hits the floor.
Rotation should be a gradual occurrence and not just completed through
the first beat. The next two steps are outside the lady. There is a
steady rise through the body through the next two beats but no more
rotation of the body.
Lady – Compress into the standing right leg, there will be rotation
through the body as the left leg “feels the floor” and extends back.
There should be a sense of the left leg still having the knee towards
partner, even though the leg is moving from the hip. The leg will not
be straight. At the end of beat two, the body weight will land over the
extended foot, and it is important to have only the right side
(shoulder) leading and not back with two shoulders. Whenever going
back, knees are poised towards the partner.
Reverse Turns – incorporating the Feather Finish
Too many of us try to turn this too early, resulting in either the lady
under excess stress during the heel turn, or separation of the two
Man – There is no turn on the first step. Compress into the standing
leg – there is rotation commencing in the body but the swinging leg
will go straight forward. The second step will also go in a straight
line and the turn should occur as a reaction of swinging the right hip.
The turn is continual through beats three and four to allow the lady
freedom to complete the heel turn. To allow the lady a good heel turn,
the man needs to hold weight on the ball of the left foot from step one
as long as possible through the rotation before stepping back on step 2.
Lady – The swinging right leg needs to go straight back feeling the
floor as we compress into the standing leg. There is rotation starting
in the body and the right foot will be slightly bent so that the toe
will point slightly to the left. The left foot comes back while weight
is transferred to the right heel to complete the heel turn,
transferring weight onto the left as the man completes the finished
alignment. Rise is generated through the ankles for a gathering step
forward on the right.
Feather Finish – or completing the Reverse Turn
Man – The right leg going back is going to incorporate the lady leading
with her heel. We need to compress into the standing left leg feeling
the floor with the right foot before committing weight back on the
first step. So we don’t leave the lady on the next step, the man will
momentarily point the left in the direction of the new alignment,
allowing the lady to swing past before he commits weight. The third
step is the same as the Feather.
Lady – The heel lead on the first step creates the momentum to finish
the movement and creates the flight for the second step to swing past
the man. She will compress into the standing right leg and step under
the man with a heel lead. The second step will be created by feeling
like the right hip is going to swing past the man rather than turning
the body. Rotation continues through the second and third step.
From the RAL Journal, Spring 2019,
in the Dixie Round Dance Council (DRDC)
Newsletter, January 2020.
If you would like to read other articles on dance
position, technique, styling, and specific dance rhythms, you may visit
the article TOC.
If you are not a member of DRDC,
do consider joining. The group sponsors triquarterly weekends with
dancing and teaching, and the newsletter is one of the most informative
Past DRDC Educational Articles archived
Go beyond this site. Find other references on our Sources and Links