Foxtrot – Dancing to the "Great American Songbook"
Foxtrot is considered one of the most "social" ballroom dances. Regardless of the dance level you or your partner might achieve, this dance style fits right in at weddings, celebrations, fundraisers, or any other occasions that feature dancing.
Introduced during the early 1900s, Foxtrot is an American dance, originally developed for upbeat music with 4/4 rhythms and dance patterns that combine slow and quick steps. When performed correctly, it conveys a sense of elegance, while projecting an easygoing, carefree attitude at the same time.
Foxtrot is perfect for the "Great American Songbook," tunes that have reached the timeless category of "standards," and it complements some of today's best big band, jazz and popular music. Some dancers even prefer Foxtrot rather than dancing a slower East Coast Swing or a West Coast Swing when the musical timing and tempo offer the option.
Collections of songs by Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Michael Buble or Diana Krall – just to name a few – include tunes that practically demand a Foxtrot to maintain the tempo, match the musical phrasing, and contribute to a romantic or playful mood established by the lyrics.
Here are some favorite songs played frequently at dances: "Let's Fall in Love"; "Fly Me To the Moon"; "Our Love Is Here to Stay"; "Dancing in the Dark"; "Dance Me to the End of Love."
Dance studios typically teach the fundamentals, including the classic box step and its variations, designed for dancing within a confined area. These patterns can be mastered rather quickly for ballroom parties and social occasions.
After the basics, dancers graduate to "passing the feet." This is where you start to feel the remarkable qualities of this graceful dance – a flowing series of smooth steps, covering greater distances across the floor. Given proper instruction and sufficient practice, this fluid motion creates a sensation of "gliding" across the room.
Controlling footwork, mastering a mild rise and fall (rather subtle when compared to the Waltz), and a good sense of timing are required to perform this dance with ease. Timing can be the biggest challenge, because it's tempting to rush ahead of the beat when you're swept away by the music. Some definite "floor time" is necessary before a dancer sustains those "slows" for just the right length of time.
What you practice in Foxtrot — posture, frame, footwork and timing — can be quite helpful when working on other smooth dances, such as Waltz, Quickstep and American Tango.
Hope to see you on the dance floor!
© 2012, Cheryl Burke Dance. All rights reserved.