The Three Rhythms of Social Dance
There are three main rhythms in ballroom dancing that we will be focusing on in the Ballroom Dance Kit. These are: slows, quicks and triples.
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The first rhythm is known as a slow. A slow is equivalent to two beats. A slow is danced by stepping on the first beat and killing time for the second beat. When you are dancing, count it as "slow, slow", or "one-two, one-two". Let’s practice a slow. Stand with your feet together. First, we’re going to step side to side. Starting to your left, it’s "side - touch" "side - touch". On the "touch," you merely bring your free leg alongside of your supporting leg. A touch is done without transferring weight. You should be able to fluidly go from left to right like this: "left - touch - right - touch - left - touch - right - touch." Next, we’re going to walk around the room starting on the left foot. Step forward "one" and draw your feet together "two." You just did a slow! Now step forward with your right foot "one" and draw your feet together "two." Another slow!
The second rhythm is called a quick. A quick is equivalent to one beat. A quick is danced as one step for each beat. When you are dancing, count it as “quick, quick, quick, quick,” or “walk, two, three, four.” Quicks are generally done in sets of two. Let’s practice quicks. Beginning with a simple march in place, it’s “march, 2, march, 2” or “quick, quick, quick, quick.” That’s not too hard, is it? Do you notice a relationship between slows and quicks? There are two quicks for every slow. Now, let’s combine some quicks with the slows we just learned about. Stand with your feet together. Again, we will walk forward starting on the left foot. For the first slow, step forward “one,” and draw your feet together “two.” Your weight should still be on your left foot. Now step forward with your right foot “one,” and draw your feet together “two.” Your weight should still be on your right foot. This completes two slows. Now for some quicks. You will step to the side on your left foot “one,” to complete the first quick, and draw your feet together “two” for the second quick, with a transfer of weight to the right foot. So for the entire pattern beginning on the left foot we have “slow,” “slow,” “quick, “quick” or “SSqq.”
The third and final rhythm we will discuss is called a triple. Triples are used in patterns as part of basic dancing. For example, in the Swing, you might see this pattern: “triple step, triple step, rock step.” Triples consist of three steps taken in quick succession, “one-n-two...stomp-your-feet.” Stand with your feet together. Imagine you are having a temper tantrum. Starting with your right foot, you will “stomp-in-place...right-left-right.” Now try it starting on your left foot. It’s “stomp-in-place...left-right-left. These “triples” can be performed in any direction. One triple step movement occupies two beats (the same as a slow). The extra step is crammed in between the beats so it still equals two: “one-and-two.” Let’s practice some more triples. Starting on the left foot, it’s “left - right - left” and now to the right, it’s “right - left - right.” You might enjoy triple-stepping around the room alternating between left and right triples. It’s fun!
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