Quickstep - The name says it all!
Likely to leave audiences spellbound and even professional dancers out of breath after a lively performance, Quickstep is aptly named.
This exuberant dance evolved in New York during the 1920s with roots in the Foxtrot, the fun-loving Charleston and fast Swings. It is usually danced to ragtime, classic big band jazz, or up-tempo pop tunes with a 4/4 time count.
Quickstep is one of the most aerobic ballroom smooth dances, a style that has become more challenging over the decades, as more varied patterns and complex steps were added. And as any fan of the dance will tell you, it's great fun! When it comes to burning calories, practicing brisk quickstep routines during an hour-long class or coaching session can be the equivalent of running several miles.
But before you decide to make this dance a cornerstone of a diet or exercise regimen, you need to accept that slower Quickstep basics must be learned first. You start at a reduced tempo with fewer of the action-packed moves demonstrated at competitions or performances.
When you watch celebrities demonstrating Quickstep on "Dancing with the Stars," they often appear a bit winded but still smiling, having a great time even after the routine. If the dancers did a good job, you notice they appeared smooth, graceful and light on their feet, despite the frenzied footwork.
You may catch brief video segments captured during practice sessions a few days before the shows. But you never witness all the hours of preparation, fine-tuning, and gradually intensified training. Unless you are familiar with Quickstep, if you followed professional dancers and their celebrity partners through a full day of practice, you would be amazed by the rigorous workouts.
Typical figures in the Quickstep include chasses (stepping to the side, bringing the feet together) and lock steps (one foot crossing behind or in front of the other), turns to the left and right, and turns to navigate corners. More dynamic moves involve rotations, syncopations, hops, spins, an extended succession of "quicks" before reaching "slow" steps, and even "split beats" with additional steps between the quicks! Whew! Fortunately not all of this is taught in classes until you reach more advanced levels.
However, the rhythm, precision and technique in this dance are essential at any level. As with Viennese Waltz, this dance can be unforgiving. Posture and partner connection must be just right before moving on to the more exciting patterns. Dance instructors often suggest students master the beginning or intermediate levels of Foxtrot before moving on to Quickstep.
On those few occasions when someone falls during a ballroom dance, the odds are good it's due to a mistake in Quickstep or in Viennese Waltz during an advanced routine. A mistimed step that triggers a trip or either partner weaving off-balance during a turn or rotation can be the cause.
As in many dances, patience is the key. Here it pays off again with huge rewards. Once you master the basics, you'll find yourself asking the DJ to play more Quickstep music during dance parties. Veteran ballroom dancers will tell you there are few thrills in life that come close to matching the sensation of doing this dance well.
Hope to see you on the dance floor!
© 2012, Cheryl Burke Dance, LLC. All rights reserved.