Learn to Dance the Foxtrot

In 1913, Harry Fox introduced the now famous foxtrot.  Almost 100 years later, the popular foxtrot is still going strong. Why not?  What is there not to like about an intimate, seductive tempo and some dazzling moves while in the arms of your favorite dancing partner.  Yes, there is a lot to like about the foxtrot and dancers have carried the foxtrot moves through the 20th century and into the 21st and you’ll see plenty of mention to it if you take ballroom lessons.

The original foxtrot was more upbeat than today’s version.  Over time, the dance has undergone a few personality changes, but all the basics that made the dance so appealing are still in place.

The Bronze level foxtrot is closest to Fox’s original dance and consists of fairly simple combinations of walks and chasses that made the dance so socially popular.  The Silver foxtrot added continuity to the walks and chasses and is very similar to the international foxtrot where open and close movements are common.

Meanwhile the English developed a Slow Foxtrot with very precise moves.  The Slow Foxtrot requires long, smooth continuous movements.  That formula did not work well with nightclub dancing and the popularity of the English foxtrot waned.  Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly led the freewheeling American version to new popularity heights.

The American foxtrot features bold open and closed movements.  The footwork is busy with a series of walking steps where the toe leads.  The rise and fall aspects of the foxtrot are displayed in the chasses and involve a three-step move.  Most turns are initiated through contra-body movements.

In the foxtrot, the sway is the inclination of the body to the left or the right with accompanying movements to the side.  Continuity is continuous passing of the feet from step to step without closing chasses.  Three successive passing steps result in continuity.

The foxtrot always begins in a closed dance hold.  This position establishes the dancer’s line and frame.  For social dancing, the position is often adjusted to a semi-closed position.  In the closed position, the dancers stand in front of each other slightly offset to the left.  The lady’s right hand is held by the man’s upper clasp left at the woman’s eye level.  The frame should be sustained but is more relaxed than the waltz.

The foxtrot is very versatile and can be performed to a wide variety of musical styles and tempos.  The slow, quick, quick rhythm constitutes one measure.  A good foxtrot is fun and puts forth a lot of positive energy. You may consider taking ballroom dancing classes if you’re more interested.

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How to Dance the Tango

The roots of the Tango can be traced to the brothels of Argentina.  The Tango’s sensual, expressive moves are easier to perform than most observers think.  One of the dynamic elements of the Tango is the expressive, interpretive character of the dance.  Each couples’ interpretation of the same music is different so each Tango is unique.

There are several different styles of Tango but all the styles are danced in either an open position with space between the partners or in a closed embrace where the partners are joined at the chest or at the hip.

The count of the tango is either 16 or 32 but with either count the Tango is performed to a repetitive style.  The female is held in the crook of the man’s arm with her head held back.  She rests her right hand on the man’s lower hip.  As the dancers maintain this position, they must connect with the music.  Many dance observers associate strong, showy head movements with the Tango.

Believe it or not, the Tango is one of the easiest dances to learn.  It is especially easy if learning with an experienced dancer.  The basic rhythm is slow-slow and the basic step is walk.  To spice up the dance add some flair and interpretative style.  If you like music, you will like the Tango.

To begin, the partners face each other.  The leader places the right hand on the partner’s lower back.  The left hand is extended out to the side with the arm bent and holding the partner’s right hand in a loose grip.  The partner places the left hand on the leader’s right shoulder.

On the first beat, the leader walks slowly forward with the left foot placing the heel down first.  The partner mirrors the moves throughout the dance.

On the second beat, the leader steps forward slowly with the right foot which moves past the left.  The step creates a slinking look and feel.

On the third beat, step forward with the left foot and quickly side the right foot to the right and shift the weight.

On the fourth beat, bring the left foot slowly to the right with the left leg slightly bent as the legs come together. The weight remains on the right side.

On the fifth beat, shift the weight to your left foot and do a right forward rock step.  While launching a half-turn clockwise, step forward quickly and shift the weight back to the left foot.  Step forward slowly with the right foot to complete the half turn.

Bring the feet together with the left foot next to the right and repeat beats three through seven.  Take it from there and enjoy the Tango!

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Waltz Your Way To Intimacy

The first Waltz performed in England raised the eyebrows of church and state, but remained popular in social circles.  The dance was introduced to England in the early 1800′s.  The stately Waltz was the first dance calling for the male lead to hold his female partner in a closed position  as he led her through a series of bold steps and romantic movements.

In a successful Waltz, the movements of each dancer compliment the other.  The woman always mirrors the male’s leading steps.  The male leads the woman through boldly romantic steps, which explains why the dance has become so popular with brides or couples who want to share a memorable dance.

The waltz stems from a 17th century country folk dance developed in Austria and Bulgaria.  Versions of the dance began to spread throughout Europe in the middle of the 18th century.  These waltz’s original country folk dance roots explained the upbeat tempo of the lively dance.  Interest in the Viennese Waltz peaked in the Strauss era in the 1800′s.

When the waltz arrived in the U.S. in the mid 1800′s, composers slowed the pace.  Slower turns and longer gliding movements characterized the newest version, which was aptly name the Boston.  Enthusiasm for the Boston faded but evolved into the new American Style Waltz.

Ever since the English and Americans have branded their separate versions of the Slow Waltz.  The English changes resulted in the International Slow Waltz just as the American Style Waltz became distinguished for the dance’s more theatrical movements.

The Viennese Waltz, the International Waltz and the American Style Waltz remain compelling and popular dances.  Each embraces distinctive waltz qualities with turn and gliding motions unique to each version.  Whichever waltz the dancers select, the movements should be progressive with long, flowing movements continuous turns and the definite rise and fall actions all delivered in the strikingly romantic waltz position.

The American Waltz is performed to a slow tempo but features those theatrical solo spins and under arm movements.  The more flamboyant the waltz, the more American the waltz is.  The American Waltz tempo should be fluid and melodic.

The International Slow Waltz embraces long, flowing movements and emphasizes many turns that add drama to the dance.  The very slow tempo allows for powerful movements and retention of perfect form.

The Viennese Waltz is fast by comparison.  Johann Strauss is the most revered of Viennese Waltz composers.  The music is characterized by orchestral sounds and very little use of percussion instruments.  The movements are shorter and robust.

Whichever waltz you prefer, the position of the frame and the head are similar to all three varieties.  This proper positioning allows for the close quarter movements and glorious intimacy unique to a properly performed waltz.

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Learn How to Cha Cha

When you hear those two slow beats followed by three quick, you will recognize the distinctive rhythm of the Cha Cha.  Soon when you hear those three quick beats, you will move side and close and cha cha cha together.  The Cha Cha allows plenty of room for creative dancing so be prepared to ad lib as you become familiar with the basic moves.  Whatever your mood, flaunt it with style in the Cha Cha.

Click Here for the Best Way to Learn the Cha Cha

Like most of today’s dancing music, the Cha Cha is 4/4 time so dancers perform four steps per bar.  On the fourth beat, the music tells you to step side and close to your dancing partner.  This is accomplished by a drag of the step foot followed by a drag of your other foot to close.  You have just performed the distinctive Cha Cha for which the ballroom dance is named.

Many Cha Cha instructors count the Cha Cha with slow-slow-quick-quick-slow but that can be confusing.  Beginners may prefer to think rock-rock-side-close-side.  That count draws a nice perspective of the rhythm and the image.

As in most Latino dances, the dancers commence steps on the 2nd beat of the music and change weight from one leg to another between beats.  In the Cha Cha, the dancer’s feet only move on the 1st, 2nd and 4th beats.  It is the change of weight that gives the dance its distinctive look and feel.  Weight changes take place halfway through the 1st and 2nd beats, on the 3rd beat and halfway through the 4th beat and on the 1st beat.  So, counting from the second beat of the music, the preferred count is 2 & 3 Cha-Cha, 1.

There are two basic moves in the Cha Cha.  These moves are best described as the Forward Basic Movement and the Back Basic Movement.  There may be variations of body position and various combinations, but these two movements create the Cha Cha.  In the Cha Cha, a move generally consists of any sequence of eight steps.

In the Cha Cha, when the man moves a foot forward, the female moves her opposite foot backwards.  When the man performs the Forward Basic Movement, the woman is performing the Back Basic Movement.  The man’s Forward Basic Movement is followed by his Back Basic Movement.

It is from the Back Basic Movement that the fancy moves originate.  After the man steps back on his left foot and the woman steps forward on her right, they both step back.  This step is initiated by the man pushing the woman back to prevent her from stepping forward.  Now, the dancers are in position for those showy steps.  Cha Cha Cha!

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East Coast Swing is In!

East Coast Swing has always been in.  With roots deep in the Harlem originated Jitterbug, the two dances have become one and the same.  Chuck Berry and Elvis Presley popularized the music and the lively East Coast Swing steps have been in vogue ever since.  One of the appealing features of the East Coast Swing is that the dance works well on a wide-open ballroom floor as well as in a crowded nightclub.

Click Here to Learn How to Dance East Coast Swing

Unlike the Foxtrot, the East Coast Swing is a non-progressive dance.  Like the Foxtrot, the swing is written in 4/4 time with emphasis on the first and third beats.  Swing dances can be written in Single Swing, Double Swing or Triple Swing.  The Single Step Swing includes slow-slow-quick-quick step.  The Double Swing utilizes a quick-quick-quick-quick-quick-quick move while the Triple Step employs quick-n-quick, quick-n-quick, quick-quick steps.

The East Coast Swing includes the use of a back rock step.  The back rock either follows a step, a step touch or a triple step.  The man always leads with the left foot and back rocks on the left foot as well.

The East Coast swing is a fast, exuberant dance.  The partners must maintain control, which is accomplished by the proper handgrip.  In the two hands position, the man extends his arms forward with palms up.  The woman places her hands palms down on her partner’s hands.  The fingers are cupped to ensure a good, solid grip.

The dancer’s arms act as the rudders. They must remain firm to direct the flow.  Floppy or loose arms will prevent following the partner’s lead.  With the swing, rehearsal time is a good idea.  Once it clicks in though, the dancers are in for an especially invigorating performance.

The East Coast Swing necessitates small steps.  For beginners, the biggest error in learning the dance is steps that are too long.  Shortening the steps allows for quicker, more balanced moves.  Our favorite ballroom dancing DVD course teaches this exactly.

Unlike many other dances, in swing dancing, the frame gives way to the counter balancing postures of the dancing partners.  The best counterbalancing is achieved when the partners lean back slightly.  This forces the dancers to keep their feet under their bodies.

The short, crisp steps in East Coast Swing are initiated from the inside of the ball of the foot.  Using the ball to lead the push off or back rock allows for punchy steps.  East Coast Swing is not a toe dance.  Follow the balls of your feet to a fast night on the town.

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