See Also: Standard Technique page for general technique for International standard dances.
Foxtrot has many similarities compared to Waltz, but it is a very different dance
3 steps in basic figures (SQQ in Foxtrot, 123 in Waltz)
Rise and fall: begin to rise e/o 1s count, continue to rise on 2nd step, sustain the height at beginning of 3rd step, lower at e/o 3rd step
Swing and sway
Different in principals:
Waltz (1 2 3) 3 steps to 3 beats (most of the times) - you are allowed to hesitate or syncopate, but the core is 1 2 3 rhythm, with 1 is strongest beat.
Foxtrot (S QQ) 3 steps to 4 beats of music. QQ are always together (syncopated Q&Q is ok, but still 2 Qs are together). One can different number of Slow's together. In Foxtrot, each step will pass the foot, thus a "walking" dance.
American Foxtrot (SSQQ) - this goes over a musical phrase (4 beats)
When to release center of gravity when doing swing:
Waltz Closed Change: "side and slightly fwd" (when a step is straight to the side, it "kills" the momentum.)
Foxtrot Feather and Three Step: "forward and slightly side"
Foxtrot doesn't have as much rise and fall, it is very 'flat' compared to Waltz. Head pretty much stays at the same height.
This is because of the nature of the movement (passing feet) and the music pace (Foxtrot music is faster than Waltz.)
All rise are in body and some legs. No foot rise. Rise are absorbed in knees. Do not pop up.
Standing foot(leg): the foot/leg you are pushing out of, "displacing yourself out of the standing leg". It could be backward step (pushing off heel) or forward step (pushing out of the ball of the foot).
Free foot could be leading foot (leg) - foot you are arriving into, OR, trailing foot (leg) - foot you just moved out of.
Leading foot: The displacement of center of gravity is causing free foot to move, free foot then moves ahead of the center. It is receiving weight (receiving foot). Leading foot could be going forward or backward.
Trailing foot: the foot drawing in either from back or front (it was previously the standing foot.) It moves after the center.
Foot is not moving on its own. Do not stick foot forward, or backward by itself attempting to achieve bigger steps.
We keep repeating the process of changing standing foot from one to the other, in a most efficient and visually pleasing way. As weight is leaving (squeezing out of) the standing foot, it is being absorbed immediately into the receiving foot.
Need to use center to achieve bigger movement. Move center and projects the body to move. The harder one squeezes out of standing leg, the further it can project the leading foot. Center, hips are projecting the foot. Foot follows the direction the center is projecting.
Timing with partner is important. 2 sets of feet really moving as 1 set of foot, moving in harmony.
Effort/power is generated in the first step. 2 step is where power is released and at its highest. 3rd is where everything is gathered and reproduced/regenerated.
To make the movement "milkier", break S into 2 counts, SQQ is 1234, move center on 1 and step on 2 (for the S count).
Like normal walking: arms are swinging on the side, opposite of the leg.
We wind up before winding down (rotating), so always starting a little "behind"
In a cycle of 3 steps, there is one continuous rotation to one direction, then switch direction. By the end of 2nd step, you have reached the maximum rotation, e.g. in Three Step, after 2nd step, do not over rotate on 3rd step, just follow through on the step.
The peak of the effort (greatest, fastest) is at the end of the first step. Rotation at maximum by 2nd step. Do not over rotate on the 3rd step.
How much to rotate: 45 degrees on both sides of the traveling direction, total 90 degrees.
Rise and Fall:
It can be argued whether Rise and Fall comes first or rotation - it depends on steps and perspectives.
Music dictates the rise and fall.
Feather step appears to be longer, which is an illusion. Length of Feather and Three Step are not fundamentally different. Feather step looks longer cuz it is outside partner, it rises sooner than Three step
Feather Step: rise from first step, through entire 2nd step and into beginning of 3rd step, lower at the end of 3rd step.
Three Step: it is more compact, there is no rise in first step of Three Step. Rise is delayed till when it's into the second step.
Swing and Sway
Swing: pendulum swinging, imagine children's swing. It's a movement. Center, leg, foot swings from one high point to low point and to the other high point again.
Any leading side has some elevation of leading hip.
Sway: change of the horizontal tilt. It helps maintain balance and looks more attractive.
"Sway to Left" is when R hip is more up and body is leaning toward Left.
"Sway to Right" is when L hip is more up and body is leaning toward Right.
In Foxtrot, don't think too much about rise and fall, it's all built-in the footwork already. If you do rise, that probably means you are popping up and doing too much rise.
Foxtrot is a curvilinear and rotary dance.
The "straight" figures, such as Feather Step and Three Step, gently curve. On turning figures, either the man is the axis, or the lady.
Very often, frame rotating from one side to another, changing direction after a measure, like monkey swinging from vine to vine. Waltz is more like being on a children's swing "up and down".
Foxtrot is "walking" dance, not a turning dance. It constantly switches between CBM and side leads.
Development of a figure: movement (how to travel in the figure, rise and fall, rotation, sway.
Heel turn in Reverse Turn and Natural Turn, the difference from Waltz:
Waltz: 1st step is already turning, foot is already position for the turn,
Foxtrot: 1st step has slight curve, but main action is "rolling back", then there is rise which brings foot together, and then turn comes later.
Posture: Elbow is not down, is a bit out, but not as much as Tango. The position is so that you feel the pressure in the hands.
Important to collect before the slow step. Slow is the driving, powerful step. Two quicks are coasting.
When counting "1 2 3 4" (where "S" is "1 2"): On "1" - it's lowering and collecting and delay stepping till "2". Or, one can think of it as "S&", lower on "S" and step on "&".
Head movement should be smooth. not too fast in Foxtrot. Smooth head movement goes with long stride.
Amount of head movement and body rotation is relative to movement size. If you don't step big, have bigger movement, you shouldn't do a lot of head or rotation. Otherwise, its proportion looks wrong.
Take the time to roll through the feet with control, moving "across" and not rush. Build foot strength to avoid wobbly feet.
On the difference between Natural Turn, Natural Weave, and Hover Cross
Natural Turn: On second step, hips and frame are square to line of dance.
Natural Weave: On second step, hips stay square, frame continues to turn to left side leading so lady can step OP on step 4
Hover Cross: Between step 2 and 3, both hips and frame turn to face center. Then frame stays square to center, while hips turn to step OP wrongside position, and then back to normal OP.
Foxtrot Preparation Step
Man: LF step to L side, hesitate
Lady: RF to R side, show more extension on "4"
Man: RF to R side, preparing to move forward
Lady': LF to L side, keep extension (don't go back to neutral), on "7" L side and L elbow goes even more diagonally leftward for even more extension (but don't go into Man's space), prepare to move RF back. Left heel is down. L leg more straight, but not locked and then move center back and step RF back (from fairly straight L knee position, body is rotated.)
Man: LF forward with slight CBM
Lady: RF back, with slight CBM, roll through RF and push for next step.
Typically, continue with Feather step.