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Float and Flight and Fun . . . It's Foxtrot!

by Kristine and Bruce Nelson

 
Foxtrot is such a wonderful rhythm! Most dancers say it is their favorite! So how do you attain the gloriously free feeling of dancing foxtrot and love it too? Let's have some fun . .
 Some Necessary Facts and Key Characteristics --
 
Timing: Foxtrot rhythm is denoted using 4/4 count. Normally, three steps to a measure with a count of SQQ. Some alternate timings may be used, such as SS, or SQ&Q, or SQQQQQQ. Or whatever a choreographer hears in the music and can express on a cue sheet. 

Keys: To successfully dance foxtrot, dancers must have an understanding of (or they must learn): good balance and posture, stable dance frame, Contra Body Movement (CBM), footwork (use of heels and toes), rise and fall (much less than in waltz), sway and swing. 

Movement/Rise and Fall: For foxtrot, the body is relaxed with soft knees and with weight on the forward part of the weighted foot, with minimum weight on the heel. Before taking step 1, the body must have a softening or slight lowering action throughout the leg of the weighted foot to create a heel lead with the moving foot. This step is followed by two "floating" steps on the ball of the foot. Figures are danced with "flight," taking long reaching or gliding steps keeping the body constantly in motion. Each figure does not "end" but moves through or connects to the next figure. Foxtrot's subtle rise and fall will happen naturally with correct footwork and commitment to flight. 

Turns: Turning to the left or right requires specific technique. For natural (right) and reverse (left) turns, the man will have a slight early body rise at the end of step 1 to lead the lady into a heel turn. For natural turns – the upper body commences turn before the step is taken (EARLY TURN). For reverse turns – upper body turn (CBM) prepares the lady for her turn and the man turns at the end of the forward (first) step and continues to turn through step 2 (LATE TURN). 

Some Figure Notes -- 

Three Step: The Three Step (and 4,5,6 of the Reverse Wave) has a specific rise and fall pattern. It is danced with delayed rise, which occurs on the second weight change, causing two consecutive heel leads for the forward-moving partner (heel, heel, toe). 

Feather(s) and Feather Finish: The Feather footwork is heel, toe, toe, utilizing the rise on the second step to assist body turn as required for the various figures. 

Telemark: The "tele" figures are heel turns for the lady and as such are danced with early rise for the man. This action blocks the lady's rise and causes her to turn on the heel of the back-stepping foot. As the man swings by the lady, he clears the block and allows her to rise. This late rise is characteristic for the one on the inside of any heel turn. Natural turns danced from closed position use the same technique, causing her heel turn.

 
From clinic notes prepared for the ICBDA Convention, July, 2014.


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