Quickstep – July 2016
We’ve had a very busy few weeks at Dizzyfeet so apologies for delay in getting the latest class blog to you. So, the Quickstep…
As we’ve seen from my previous blogs about the dances we cover in class, most of them come about as a result of something to do with music. In the early 1920s Rag Time bands were all the rage and the Charleston was sweeping across the world as the new, must do dance craze. A lot of what we dance today comes as a direct result of that era, however originally the Quickstep was a mish-mash of the dances including the Charleston, the one-step and interestingly the Foxtrot. As you may recall from the Foxtrot blog, that was initially bonkers fast and caused considerable carnage on the dance floor, so the music was adapted and the ‘Slow’ Foxtrot came to be. Both the Foxtrot and the Quickstep use a 4/4 rhythm so it was inevitable that those already capable of a little foxy smooch around the floor would integrate the steps they already knew…
However, as with a lot of the dances of the era, a bright spark over in London got hold of it and thought ‘That dance could make me some money’ so they took its basic form, standardised the figures and packaged it up as the Quickstep basics that we know of today. Clever fella. It could have been Alex Moore or it could have been Victor Sylvester, I’m not sure, but either way it was added to the growing list of standard Ballroom dances and became a popular hit in dance halls up and down the country.
From those early days, almost all of the original figures and steps remain with the technique changing little in over 80 years. Of course we are now much more dynamic in our movement, which you can see is in stark contrast to the short clip below of Alex Moore way back in 1936. The steps might be the same, but look completely different by todays standards. It’s a lovely little routine though and we’ve covered almost all of the steps in our classes in recent times so by all means take note of the footwork but ladies, please don’t copy her head position!
I’ve unearthed a few more clips from some of the historic ‘greats’ of Ballroom dancing and will showcase a few more in a later blog.
So yes, the Quickstep has moved on quite a bit from those early days and in fact despite originally being based on the Foxtrot, you will in fact find more similarities today with the Waltz. There isn’t one figure in the Waltz syllabus that you can’t either dance as is or slightly adapt to fit into the Quickstep rhythm – which is quite the opposite to figures from the Foxtrot syllabus! Now of course you can dance the Foxtrot steps to a Quickstep, they’re both 4/4 rhythm after all, but it just wouldn’t look right. So those of you that try – stop it!
Once you get past the syllabus level of dancing and move on to advanced figures, that’s when the Quickstep becomes so much more fun! Hops, skips, runs, jumps; you name it, it’s in there! And as you get better and more advanced, the use of the music becomes more involved too. Normally through a basic action, such as a chasse or lock step, there are 4 steps using a timing SLOW, QUICK, QUICK, SLOW. With a slow being 2 beats and a quick 1 beat, that one figure takes a bar and a half of music (a troublesome problem for some who try to squeeze all 4 steps into ONE bar – that’s why you get so fast!! Basic Quickstep is actually pretty sedate…). With the use of syncopation, an advance figure could have up to 10 steps in the same amount of time: QUICK – and – QUICK – and… etc. This is what creates the speed and dynamic movement of todays Quickstep dancers and another reason why it’s so important for the ladies not to have their head tucked into the mans armpit! Mostly for counter balance but also because you have to work a little harder to move that fast and no one wants to be caught in a hard-working armpit!
Our recent routine wasn’t too full of syncopation but it did have some lovely little hops and flicks to give you a taster of a fancy Quickstep. But whatever we do in class, we’ll always aim to keep it up to date so let’s make sure our dances are less like 1936 and more 2016! (Or 2013 like the video below!)
Next up – the Waltz!
A lovely bit of nostalgia!
A bit of up to date Quickstep! Well, 2013…
…and a routine for you to practice!