Stepping Into Quickstep
by Gert-Jan & Susie
of the most exciting rhythms we dance is the Quickstep. The tempo of
this rhythm is quicker than a lot of the dances we dance, the quickest
of the Standard dances (Samba is usually considered the quickest of the
Latin dances). Because of the speed of the music, and therefore the
actions, there are some general guidelines that should help us execute
these figures. We will not say to you that the quickstep is an easy
rhythm; it does take effort to learn. But it is so rewarding, when you
do learn it and are able to enjoy this delightful rhythm.
With most rhythms we dance there is one main and one secondary timing.
One of the challenges of quickstep is that there are so many timing
variations. You have [SS; S] [SQQ;] [ QQS;] [QQQQ;], and then of course
all kinds of variations and combinations for different figures. Part of
learning each figure includes learning the timing of that particular
figure. We need to learn each figure well, and be able to dance them
"without thinking,"which can be a challenge given the speed of the
With any figure, in any rhythm, we need to know how and where we should
place our feet to dance the figure correctly. With most of the familiar
rhythms, this footwork comes by now pretty naturally to most of us. But
with quickstep, since we are not as familiar with the figures, and
since they do come quickly, it will take some extra effort to learn the
Two figures that are very prominent in quickstep are the lock steps and
the chasses. One of the most important things concerning any lock step
is the body position; we need to dance with a shoulder lead -- never
straight. Our feet can travel Line of Dance, but our body must be
One of the most important aspects of quickstep is that (usually) all
the quick steps are taken on the ball of the foot. One example of a
figure that we so often see danced incorrectly, with both a lowering
action and dancing "straight," is the phase IV figure, Running Forward
Locks or Running Back Locks. We must practice these with shoulder lead
until it becomes second nature.
With a chasse, we need to rise smoothly and gradually. The rise starts
at the end of the first step and reaches the maximum height at the end
of the third step. On the fourth step you stay up, then lower at the
end to start the next step low (heel lead for the person going
forward). For most chasses, we think, "down, up, up, up."
There is a lot to learn with all that is included for each figure: the
timing, footwork, body position, rise, sway, but we think you will feel
that it is well worthwhile when you find yourself "flying across the
floor" gracefully executing a well-written quickstep dance.
A Few Figures with Remarks --
- Running Forward Locks (and Running Back Locks) [QQQQ; QQS;]
figure, the general tendency is for dancers to lower, especially on the
fourth quick, and sometimes to forget the timing and try QQS; QQS;
- Tipple Chasse (and Forward Tipple Chasse) [SQQ; S]
Sometimes we forget
that on a tipple chasse there is a "tipping" action, so a stretch
towards the foot that starts the chasse. We need to be careful that we
make a body stretch, not a dip with the shoulders.
- Double Reverse Spin [SS; QQ] Like the Double Reverse in
the basic problem dancers have is getting all the way around with their
partner. And as in the other Standard rhythms, the lady needs to think
about dancing "through" her partner, not "around" her partner.
- Scoop [SS;] In this figure, since the foot placement is not
we often forget what "makes" the figure a scoop, and not just a side
close; we need to have the strong sway away from the stepping foot
which will make a left side stretch for the man, a right side stretch
for the lady. At the end of the figure there is a rise to the toes.
- Quick Open Reverse [SS; QQ] We need to remember to start
this figure with two slow steps, which is unusual in quickstep.
- Running Finish [SQQ;] I'm not sure why, but often dancers
want to go
left-face instead of right-face for this figure. Don't do that! :-)
- Six Quick Twinkle [QQQQ; QQ] This figure has two sway
changes and a
change of shoulder lead, making it a challenging figure to dance
correctly. On the fourth quick it is acceptable for the man to make a
slight side step while the lady closes; this can help to get the lady
in front. The lock at the end of the figure will be made with a left
shoulder lead, and an extra lock will get you back on the measure.
- Stutter [QQS; QQ] This figure goes from a left side lead,
closed position, to a left side lead again; and this change through
closed position and then back again happens on the last two quicks.
This figure will also often have an extra lock at the end to get back
on the measure.
- Mini Telespin [SS; S&QQ; S] Any problems with this
quickstep would usually be the same that a dancer would have in other
rhythms -- keeping the bodies together; also, we need to realize that
the last slow is a hold with no change of weight. Again this is a
figure that ends on a half measure, so that extra half measure is
usually made up either before or after the figure. Often the figure
getting out of a Mini Telespin is a Contra Check, and in quickstep if
we dance a Contra Check, Recover, Side in three slows, we are back on
the beginning of the next measure.
From clinic notes
prepared for the ICBDA Convention, 2014, and
in the Dixie Round Dance Council (DRDC)
Newsletter, December 2017.