Foxtrot -- Let's Get Smooth
by Randy Lewis & Debbie Olson
A good frame and body mechanics can make your dancing smoother, more
comfortable, and more enjoyable -- not just in Foxtrot, but in Waltz,
Quickstep, Tango, and other rhythms, too. How do we get smooth? It
truly begins with the Closed Position Frame. Dancing with a proper
frame will make your dancing life so much easier.
Creating Your Frame
starts with the 5 points of contact -- begin standing facing your
partner, slightly offset -- your right side should align with the
partner's mid-line (think shirt buttons).
Knees and Ankles -- Next
we need to soften the knees slightly. This will put your weight
slightly forward on the balls of your feet and aid in the torso
connection described above.
- Lead Hands -- gently joined, no higher than eye level of
the lady, equidistant between partners, arms should have tone (no wet
spaghetti) and have a slight curve to them with elbows held up and
level, not drooping.
- Man's Right Hand -- gently but firmly on the ladies left
shoulder blade. (I like two fingers on the shoulder blade and two
fingers just under the shoulder blade.) Fingers should be together and
angled down towards the ladies right hip. This helps keep the right
elbow up, with tone in the muscles of the upper arm.
- Man's Right Wrist -- under the ladies left armpit but not
pushing her shoulder up.
- Lady's Left Arm -- gently lays on top of man's right arm,
no downward pressure making the man hold you up.
- Connect At the Torso -- this is probably the most important
point of contact and the one least often used. Contact may begin as low
as the knees, up through the thighs, the front of the right hip, the
tummy, up to the bottom of the rib cage. This connection is where the
man initiates his lead and the lady follows. If there is no connection
here, the lady will have no idea what the man wants her to do. Do stay
on your own side, as if there were a pane of glass between you and your
partner. Don't lean into your partner's space.
Body Stretch -- Take a
deep breath, stand up straight, let the breath out, but don't collapse
again (upward stretch). Both add a little extra right-side stretch and
a little backward stretch, away from partner. This should give you a
nice top-line separation, such that you should be able to hold a
medium-sized book between your collar bones.
Heads Turned Left --
super important, repeat, Heads Turned Left -- both of you -- not just
your eyes looking left. It's as if you are lying down in bed and your
head gently rolls to the left. That is where it should be. No gazing in
your partners eyes. If you dance nose to nose, then you will assuredly
dance toes on toes -- Ouch. No one will be happy. Keep that head left.
Keep Bodies Parallel --
Bodies (shoulders, hips) should be kept parallel as much as is
CBM and CBMP
CBM (Contra or Contrary
Body Movement) is upper body action where one side of the body turns
towards the moving foot without producing turn in the foot. CBM is most
often used to initiate a turning figure. The man initiates CBM, lady
The man initiates the figure by compressing, commencing upper body
rotation, bringing the knee through, pointing the moving foot in the
line of direction of movement, stepping straight forward on the foot
with no turn of the foot. The moving foot precedes the body core moving
forward. CBM will cause thighs and knees to connect. Again, keep
CBMP (Contra or Contrary
Body Movement Position) is about the feet -- it's a foot position where
the moving foot dances on or across the line of the supporting foot,
while maintaining the upper body line.
From clinic notes
prepared for the ICBDA Convention, 2017,
in the Dixie Round Dance Council (DRDC)
Newsletter, April 2022.