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by Mark & Pam Prow

Brief History --

The Quickstep was born in the 1920s as dancers began to dance to the quicker, livelier music of the era. The music was too fast for the open movements of the Foxtrot, and dancers wanted to move around the floor more than the Charleston permitted.

 The combination of the two rhythms created the "Quicktime Foxtrot and Charleston." Later on, this was shortened to "Quickstep." Quickstep actually is a medley of movements from many '20s-era rhythms, including the Black Bottom, Charleston, Shimmy, and the Foxtrot.

 Characteristics --

Quickstep is characterized by the flow of Foxtrot, with the foot closing action of Waltz movements. Also included in the Quickstep are static types of movements, which can resemble the Jive or Charleston. In competition, the rhythm is danced at 50 mpm, though in round dancing most Quicksteps feel comfortable at around 45-47 mpm. The musical timing of Quickstep is 4 beats per measure.

 In round dancing, basic Quickstep can be characterized by slow-count walking steps (stepping every other beat) combined with quick-count locks, runs, and chasses (stepping every beat). In many cases, steps in figures with a side close or a forward (or back) lock are danced on quick counts. Other steps are danced slow. The round dance Two Step rhythm has this same characteristic, which makes it seem in some ways similar to Quickstep.

 Chasse and lock steps are generally executed with the ball of the foot hitting the floor first. Forward steps on the slow count are generally with a heel lead. Other figures, such as the Telemark, Impetus, and Spin Turn, are executed with similar footwork to Waltz. Timing on these figures is generally SSS.

 Many Quickstep figures take up 1.5 measures of music. This can be confusing at first when trying to sort out where figures begin and end, since many other rhythms have most figures contained within complete measures.

 Musical Interpretation (thanks to Richard Lamberty for his input) --

In basic Quickstep, the underlying music has a smooth, lyrical quality, which we want to capture in the dancing. In each two-beat group, we can either take one step (a slow) or two steps (quicks). If we are taking a slow, the movement is blended over the two beats so that it flows evenly (rather than step on the first quick and basically stand still for the second.) For the two quicks, the first step tends to move (hopefully a comparable amount to a slow) and the second step tends to 'catch up' to the first step (tends to close or lock).

 The visual appearance is then that slows cover the same distance but in a more languid manner, while for the pair of quicks, the body accelerates for the first step, and slows down for the second. Sequences of quicks take on a different character, which makes them very even. Such sequences are usually ended with a slow step that allows us to slow down the body speed again: Ta Ta Ta Ta TAAA.

 Some Basic Quickstep Figures --

 Progressive Chasse

A left-turning figure similar to the Foxtrot or Waltz figure "back and chasse to banjo." The figure takes 1.5 measures (6 counts) to execute. This figure generally starts with the trailing foot free. The movement turns left to align the partners moving to LOD with the man preparing to step outside the woman in banjo. Timing is SQQS.

 Quarter Turn

This is a right-turning figure that keeps the couple in closed dance position throughout. You can think: forward turning right, and chasse to closed. The figure takes 1.5 measures (6 counts). The figure ends with the man usually facing DRW. Timing is SQQS. Even though this figure ends in closed position, it can start in banjo, closed, or semi-closed position.

 Quarter Turn Progressive Chasse

A combination move in round dancing that combines the Quarter Turn and the Progressive Chasse. Current Roundalab definition adds a step to the front of the figure, starting with a forward step with the lead foot and taking a total of 3.5 measures: SSQQSSQQS.


This figure is danced with progression. The figure in round dancing is four counts, consisting of a cross in back, forward with slight side, forward, cross in back for the man. In order to feel the fishtail, you have to be aware of two different types of crossing actions: sideward and progressive. The sideward action is recognized in figures such as the vine. The progressive action is found in locks. In Quickstep, the Fishtail should try to use the progressive action of crossing the foot. This would describe the Fishtail as a lock, fwd, fwd, lock.

 However, the difference in the Fishtail is that the first crossing step is with the man's left and the woman's right foot, contrary to what we would normally do with a forward lock. This can make the figure feel quite awkward at first, and has lead to many variations of how the Fishtail is danced in round dancing.

 In fact, if you do the common Two Step movement, Fwd Lk Fwd, the basic foot movements of the Fishtail are contained therein. With your partner do three Fwd Lk Fwd steps in a row (9 steps) starting with the lead foot. The basic Fishtail is contained in steps 5, 6, 7, and 8.

 The preparation step (normally a slow count) before the Fishtail can have a slight left-face rotation and should have a strong rise, allowing the first crossing step to feel more natural. The forward steps (2 and 3) can have a right-face rotation, making the last locking step to feel more natural.

 In Quickstep, we personally dance the Fishtail as a lock left in back, forward right outside the woman with RF rotation, forward left, and lock right in back. This provides a forward motion to the figure and creates smooth motion into the next figure.

 Running Locks

This figure combines two forward lock forward actions with an intermediate forward step. Timing is QQQQQQS. The motion can be forward or backwards.

 Summary --

 Quickstep can be a fun dancing rhythm for all dancers. The rhythm is a natural progression from the round dance Two Step rhythm. Techniques from Waltz and Foxtrot combine to make an enjoyable, interesting rhythm.



                                From clinic notes prepared for the URDC annual convention, 2006.


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