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Don't Be Tricked By SQQ

by Sandi & Dan Finch

You are told that foxtrot timing is SQQ, and so is quickstep. Then you learn that bolero is also SQQ, and at some point, you are told that slow two step is SQQ. How can that be? Four distinctly different rhythms with the same timing?

The reason the same timing can apply to various rhythms is that timing doesn't tell you how to take a step, only the number of steps that occur and over which beats. In this case, the slow takes two beats of music and each quick represents one step on a beat. The characteristics of each rhythm and even the music itself tell you how to dance the slow and the quicks. Each of these four rhythms look distinctly different, so you know you can't dance SQQ the same way all the time.

Fence First, you have to understand beats. A beat (used interchangeably with "count") is not just a "bong." Beat 1 begins when an instrument plays it and the sound continues until the next beat is played. Therefore a beat occurs over a span of time. Consider a measure of music is like a section of fencing. Each fence post represents a beat, and the distance between posts is the time each beat lasts. In the photo, beat 1 starts with the first post and beat 2 starts at the second post. How you spend your time going from post to post is up to you. You can step on a beat anywhere along its "fence boards" to create different looks. Adding rise and fall will also alter the look.

Bolero begins with a long slow step to the side, with rise at the end of that step, but it is only a rise within the body. Slow two step also has a long step to the side but with no rise, and the step back and under is danced with a straight leg and only foot rise for lift. No rise allows the body to sway.

Quickstep is intended to be danced with a light and airy feeling. Poise is slightly forward for balance, on flexed knees, and the rise and fall of each figure may differ, depending on whether it originated as a foxtrot or waltz step. You will feel your center of gravity is higher in the body to allow the legs more freedom to move.

Foxtrot is called the "dancer's dance" because it allows so much freedom of expression while staying within a measure of music. The goal is to dance it smoothly with a linear flow down line of dance, in ways described as "sophisticated" and even "oily." An experienced dancer will avoid the tendency to step on beat 1, hold it through beat 2, and then step on beats 3 and 4. This creates an uncharacteristic stop and start. Instead, that dancer will play with the timing, stepping somewhere on beat 1 or 2 while in flight, being aware of dancing heel to toe, and perhaps stealing time from beat 4 for the first quick, to create a continuous flow.


From a club newsletter prepared by Dan and Sandi Finch , February 2014, and reprinted in the Dixie Round Dance Council (DRDC) Newsletter, February 2015.



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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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