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Intermediate Foxtrot

by Tim Eum & Shirley Ray

The Foxtrot is one of the most popular of all the dance rhythms. It is characterized by long, gliding, smooth steps that use ease of movement and control to give the dance a lazy and unhurried appearance.

Roundalab has defined beginning foxtrot steps in Phase 3 of its Standard Figures. This introduction to intermediate foxtrot will review some of the Phase 3 foxtrot figures and the proper dance technique to build on them for figures in the next phase, Phase 4.

One of the first foxtrot figures is "Forward and Run 2". It is three steps: a forward (slow) step followed by two quick forward steps. This normally starts in Closed Position (CP); the man steps forward with his lead foot (left or L) while the lady steps back with her lead foot (right or R). The couple continues in man's forward direction with two quick steps (R, L for man and L, R for the lady).

All three steps may be done with a smooth, gliding action since they all go the same direction. If the man uses the heel of his lead foot when taking the first step and rolls onto the ball/toe of the foot by the end of the first step, he can begin to get that gliding feeling. The lady, on her first step, will reach back with the toe of her lead foot and smoothly roll her weight fully onto it prior to taking her second step. This figure may also be done with the trail foot going forward first, instead of lead foot.

With heel/toe gliding styling and maintaining a good upper body dance frame, the Phase 3 foxtrot Forward and Run 2 becomes the Phase 4 foxtrot "Three Step" figure. Another element of gliding styling is to keep the knees "soft". Having "soft" knees which are relaxed and flex easily from one step to the next enables a smooth roll from heel to toe which gives the look of floating across the floor.

The Three Step can easily be converted to another figure called "Feather". For a Feather, one starts the Three Step in closed position (CP) and takes the first two steps in CP. The third step forward (back for the lady) is taken outside partner to end in the banjo (BJO) position.

The Waltz Box is a Phase 2 level waltz figure. For the Phase 3 foxtrot “Box”, the steps are the same, but the timing is different, and there is less rise and fall than in the waltz. The foxtrot Box is a two-measure figure beginning in CP with the lead foot (left foot for the man and right foot for the lady). Steps for the man are Forward, - , Side, Close; Back, - , Side, Close. The lady’s steps are the opposite with Back, - , Side, Close ; Forward, - , Side, Close. The rhythm is Slow, - , Quick, Quick ; Slow, - , Quick, Quick. At the completion of the Box figure, each dancer will end up at the starting position with the lead foot free again.

The “Left Turning Box” figure includes two Box figures in succession. The difference is that, with each half box, on the step that goes Forward or Back, the dancers turn one quarter left face when taking that Forward or Back step. Starting in CP facing Wall, the moves are four half-boxes, each turning left one-quarter turn. The four moves are as follows: Forward turning one quarter left face toward Line of Dance (LOD), - , Side, Close ; Back turning one quarter left face so man faces Center of Hall (COH), - , Side, Close ; Forward turning one quarter left face toward Reverse Line of Dance (RLOD), - , Side, Close ; Back turning one quarter left face so that man faces Wall again , - , Side, Close. This figure, done in the Slow-Quick-Quick rhythm of foxtrot, is a Phase 3 foxtrot figure.

With three changes, the Phase 3 Left Turning Box becomes a Phase 4 "Diamond Turn". The first change is a 3/8 turn on the first measure (rather than ¼ turn). Thus, if the Diamond Turn begins with the man facing LOD (Line of Dance), he finishes the measure facing DRC (Diagonal Reverse and Center of Hall). Each of the following turns is a 1/4 turn, so the man ends the second measure facing DRW (Diagonal Reverse and Wall); the third measure ends with the man facing DLW (Diagonal Line of Dance and Wall); and the fourth ends with the man facing DLC (Diagonal Line of Dance and Center). Dancing the diagonals is what gives the Diamond Turn its name since the dancers move in a diamond shape.

The second change is that the third step is not a closing step but is a passing step instead. If one starts the measure with a slow Forward (turning left) step, the second step is to the Side and the third step is a Back step. If one starts the measure with a Back (turning left) step, the second step is to the Side and the third step is Forward. Thus, the Diamond Turn takes four measures as in the Left Turning Box, but is done as follows for the man: Forward (turn left 3/8), - , Side, Back; Back (turn left ¼), - , Side, Forward; Forward (turn left ¼), - , Side, Back; Back (turn left ¼), - , Side, Forward. The lady’s steps are Back (turn left 3/8), - , Side, Forward; Forward (turn left ¼), - , Side, Back; Back (turn left ¼), - , Side, Forward; Forward (turn left ¼), - , Side, Back.

The third change is that each measure of the Diamond Turn ends in BJO instead of CP. The Diamond Turn usually ends in BJO, and all quarter turns begin and end outside partner.

Knowing the Diamond Turn makes it easy to learn "Reverse Turn". In ballroom terminology, turning left face is a "Reverse Turn" while turning right face is a "Natural Turn". Roundalab defines round dance standard figures called "Reverse Turn" and "Natural Turn" at the Phase 4 level. For the man, a Reverse Turn is similar to half of a Diamond Turn except that, at the end of the first measure, he leads the lady to stay in CP and delays going to BJO until after the second (last) measure of the Reverse Turn. The lady also does her steps like Half a Diamond Turn except that, in the first measure, her second step is a "Heel Turn”, and her third step is Forward into CP. Thus the man’s steps for the Reverse Turn are Forward (turn LF), - , Side, Back (CP); Back (turn LF), - , Side, Forward to BJO. The lady’s steps are Back (turn LF), - , Side (heel turn), Forward (CP); Forward (turn LF), - , Side, Back to BJO. The Reverse Turn usually begins in CP with lead foot free and ends in BJO with lead foot free, having turned over 1/2 left face turn (perhaps as much as 3/4) over its two measures.

Phase 3 foxtrot includes the one-measure figure called "Maneuver". It is three steps with standard foxtrot timing of Slow-Quick-Quick. It can be done starting in Banjo or Closed Position with trail foot free (man's right, lady's left). The first step of the Maneuver is for the man to make a long forward step with trail foot around the lady (if beginning in BJO), turning right face almost half around (lady steps back with a short step with her left foot, turning right face), then finishes with a quick Side and Close. The Maneuver can also be done from Semi-Closed Position (SCP), where the man does the same steps as when starting in BJO or CP, but the lady will begin by stepping forward allowing the man to Maneuver to CP before both finish with a Side and Close.

The "Natural Turn Half" begins with the same first step as in Maneuver. The man's second step is still a little side but a little back as well. The lady's second step is a "heel turn" which means she closes her right foot to her left foot and turns on her heel right face. The third and last step of the Natural Turn Half is for the man to step back and the lady to step forward, ending in CP with lead foot free.

A full "Natural Turn" includes one additional measure after the Natural Turn Half. Starting in CP (usually facing RLOD with lead foot free), the man steps back, turning right face (keeping lady in CP in front of him), - , Side finishing RF turn to face Diagonal Line of Dance and Center of Hall (DLC), forward to DLC ending with trail foot free. The lady, after the Natural Turn Half , steps Forward, turning right face, Side, and Back in the second measure. The full Natural Turn is two measures in length and is in CP throughout.

Happy dancing!

Tim Eum has prepared many Round Dance Tips for Calls 'n' Cues, WASCA, for his weekly Rocket Rounds email reports, and for other publications. This article was prepared for the RAL Virtual Convention, 2021. DRDC is grateful for permission to collect and reprint. A Tim Eum archive.



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