Quickstep, Notes for Dance
by Brent &
dancing is a combination of many elements. Each component has
importance and must be properly blended into the matrix in order to
yield a desired result. However, every element of action and style
cannot be examined in detail in a brief article. Below, we will focus
on the relationship with the partner and how the feet are used to
enable the flighting of the body in Quickstep.
the partnership has a critical function in all forms of dance in that
it creates the fundamental image of a couple as dancers and it
establishes the mechanical basis of coordinated movement. Partnership
has several interrelated components -- position relative to the
partner, hold, poise, and distribution of weight.
is the position relative to the partner. In all International
standard dances, the partner is positioned between the center line of
the body and the right elbow. Additionally, all figures either
maintain this basic relationship or use techniques to give that
hold is composed of five essential points of contact. These are
listed in descending order of importance: Most important is the man's
right wrist to the lady's left arm pit applied with a slight lifting
pressure. The man's right arm should be angled downward from the
shoulder in a gradual slope. Second is the lead hands, which are
joined at about the man's eye level (if there is a great disparity in
height it is better established at the shorter partner's eye level)
and extended out to just the point before the lady's right arm
straightens. Third is the lady's left hand on the man's left upper
arm, positioned so that her left elbow is level with her right one.
The fourth contact point is the man's right hand placed softly on the
lady's left shoulder blade -- the hand turned down with the fingers
grouped together. The final point of contact is the bodies lightly
touching at a point just below the rib cages to the hips on the right
side. To insure that this contact point is light, there is a very
slight turn to the right from the ankles up.
is slightly forward so that the weight is carried across the medial
(inside) arch of the feet. This forward poise is gained by softening
the knees as the body is moved slightly forward. The amount of
softening in the knees is small at this point but is the maximum
straightening of the legs that we should have when our feet are
collected under our bodies.
are a couple of competing ideas about weight distribution; we will
explain the one we use. The body can be divided into five major
blocks of weight -- the head, the shoulders, the torso, the hips, and
the legs. The man carries his five sections neatly stacked on top of
each other, his spine is straight, and his hips are level. The slight
body turn to the right mentioned in the hold gives the appearance of
his looking to the left, but it is an illusion. The lady carries her
weight in a slightly different way -- she curves her spine through
the torso slightly to the left and back, to place her head weight
over her left foot. The lady's hips are also danced in a level
is most commonly thought of as a series of foot patterns that carry
the body from position to position. A better concept of dancing is
moving the body from one point in the room to another. Another way of
saying the same thing is that figures are created by body movement
and footwork is the natural reaction to that movement. Move the body
and the feet will get there! But we must keep in mind that even
though we utilize the concept of body movement, our connection with
the floor is through the feet -- more on that in a minute.
the body (usually called "flighting" the body) is important
to all smooth dancing but is critical to Quickstep. The mechanics of
the figures in this rhythm hinge on it. In Foxtrot and Waltz, we use
sway extensively to maintain the partnership while moving the body,
especially in turns. Sway is used in Quickstep but is minimized and
body speed and direction become the enabling mechanisms for
maintaining body position and creating patterns.
speed also defines step lengths, which are somewhat compressed, due
to the shorter duration of time on the standing foot as compared to
other standard dances. All the fundamental figures in Quickstep are
moving figures; that means that once we get the body moving, we keep
it moving! Occasionally, stationary actions are added for contrast,
but Quickstep's central theme is always movement, movement,
movement!! Quickstep foot actions are designed to establish and
maintain this speedy movement (i.e., mostly on the toes with use of
the whole foot to impart energy). A critical element in how the feet
are used makes a huge difference in our ability to move smoothly.
That key element is when we allow the heel to lower from an extended
(up) position. Foot elevation must be maintained until the free foot
is to, or past, the supporting foot. This allows leg swing for the
power movements. Early lowering make rough work of Quickstep and also
gives the dance a choppy appearance.
movement, lightly skimming the floor, the wind whistling past our
ears is the stuff of good Quickstep. Achieving that image and
sensation takes long hours of practice, study, and close attention to
what our bodies are doing. But, when we even approach such a level of
competence, the joy of dancing takes on a whole new dimension.
for the URDC Convention, 1995, and
reprinted in the Dixie Round Dance Council (DRDC)
Newsletter, November 2013.
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 here.
Aditional articles and dance helps by
Sandi & Dan Finch
& Susie Rotscheid
Go beyond this site. Good instructional
books and videos, both new and used, are available at low prices from Amazon. Find other references on our Sources and Links