Elevate Your Foxtrot
by John & Mary
In our corner of the Dance World,
Dancing is done for fun and pleasure, and it can be even more
enjoyable when steps are executed properly, which in turn adds
elegance and comfort to our dancing. Proper use of legs, ankles,
feet, and foot alignment are important in executing the figures
Body Posture -- Correct
posture is important for balance and comfortable dancing. The body
should be held erect without either partner leaning towards the other
while maintaining a light contact in the diaphragm area. Think in
terms of an imaginary fence line between the man's and the lady's
upper body, about chest height. The man should not go over the fence
into the lady's space, nor should the lady intrude into the man's
Man -- Should think thin --
left, long neck, free from tension, relaxed shoulders, passive chest
feel, shoulder blades drawn comfortably down and giving a flat back,
and a broad line to the elbows -- never a pinched look. Feel a
stretched spine at the lower back. Flat front, no hip tilt, but feel
the hips hanging under the neck in a vertical alignment. Arms
elevated without shoulder rise. Light feeling at the elbows, hands
and wrists free from tension, yet toned.
The man's left arm should slope
slightly and extend out comfortably with his left hand held at the
lady's eye level. The right arm should slope slightly and extend out
with the man's right hand placed on the lower part of the lady's left
shoulder blade. The wrist should be in contact with the lady's left
underarm with light pressure.
Lady -- Has two basic
for lightness and balance. The lateral curve and a backward curve.
The lateral curve may be changed, but the backward curve never gets
less, but may be enlarged. The whole poise must result from stretch.
Chest lift is most important to style and lightness -- an upward
expression -- long neck -- bosom up. RULE -- both curves must always
The lady's right arm should slope
slightly downwards from the shoulder to the elbow and then upwards
from the elbow to meet the man's hand with her four fingers placed
between the man's thumb and forefinger. The man will then close his
fingers gently over the lady's fingers with the thumbs upright and
placed against each other.
The lady's left arm should rest
on the man's right arm and must not bear downwards. The left hand,
with thumb and wrist parallel to the man's arm, should be placed on
the man's right arm between the elbow and the shoulder depending upon
the lady's and man's height. The lady can think in terms of placing
her left arm lightly on a high bar.
Weight -- There are four
-- head, shoulders, rib cage, and hips -- which should be aligned on
a vertical center. The body should not be rigid and should rotate
around the vertical center. The man and lady should center their
bodies toward each other with a slight turn to the right through the
legs. Both the man and lady should have balance over their standing
feet. The hips must never be displaced forward or behind. No twists
must occur between the shoulders and the hips. Think of the body as a
flat board. When turning, the whole body turns in its entirety.
Arms -- The arms are an
extension of the body. They should move with the body with a
sympathetic reaction in any movement, as opposed to a stiff, fixed,
wooden type of hold. Do not drop the arms or move them independently
when in closed position.
Foot Alignment -- When
in closed position, there are four tracks for the feet to travel on.
The man has two tracks and the lady has two tracks. The man's left
foot is outside the lady's right foot, and the man's right foot is
between the lady's right and left feet. In this position, the man's
body is slightly to the right of the lady with the man looking over
the lady's right shoulder, and the lady's body is slightly to the
right of the man with the lady looking over the man's right shoulder.
Foot placement is important. The
should skim the floor. No noise is the aim. The feet do not miss the
floor naturally; you make it happen. The inside edge of the foot is
always used on side steps. The feet are used to lift, lower, and
propel the body and are an aid to balance.
Legs -- Leg action is based
the fundamental concept of parallel movement. Only the standing leg
can move the body, with the use of the three main joints: 1.
Foot/Ankle, 2. Knee, and 3. Hip. The standing leg moves the body --
the body moves the moving leg. Flexed knees are most important, and
at no time should the knees be locked. When lowering, the rule is:
the knees will flex and absorb the body weight before the foot
lowers. When rising, the rule is: the knees will start to straighten
(not lock) before the foot rise is made.
Head -- The head is
passive, and its basic position is looking to the left, never
centered. The head should not be allowed to move forward or backward
in relation to the shoulders. The neck should be long at the back so
that the chin will not tilt upwards. When in semi-closed position,
the heads should look past the shoulder. Two good rules for the head:
1. Move the body and the head should react. 2. The head should follow
the inclination of the spine -- looking into the sway line. The head
should lend balance and control at all times. Incorrectly poised or
used heads can cause an imbalance. As a balancing agent, the head is
Body Sway -- Sway is used
turning in the same manner as when turns are made when driving a car.
When a left turn is made, the driver automatically leans into the
turn (left) to counteract the outward pull of the turn. If the driver
did not lean to the left, the result would be an imbalance, with the
driver toppling over and falling to the right. The same conditions
and technique apply to right turns. Allow sway to happen; do not
collapse the opposite side to achieve sway.
Sway starts on the standing leg,
through the hips, and through the body emerging under the arms or at
the chest area. There are three types of sway: moving sway, static
sway as in lines and picture figures, and broken sway as in tipsy
CBM (Contrary Body Movement)
-- The purpose of CBM is to facilitate turning movements. CBM should
start through the standing foot and leg to the hips and finally to the
body. A very good rule to observe is: the hip and shoulder on one side
of the body must remain in vertical alignment. Never should the
shoulders be allowed to turn more than the hips, either backwards or
forwards. The common error is to twist the body at the waist.
CBMP (Contrary Body Movement
Position) -- CBMP is a foot position and is accomplished by placing the
moving leg (foot) slightly in front of, or behind, the supporting leg
(foot), with or without body turn (CBM). CBMP is used when stepping
outside partner (banjo and sidecar) to ensure that partners can
maintain close body contact.
notes for a RAL Teacher's Seminar, June 1991, and published in the
Fall 1991. Published in the Dixie
Dance Council (DRDC) Newsletter, July/August 2012.