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Instructional Video

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Fox Trot Lesson 1: Basic Pattern.
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Practice CD


Fox Trot Introduction

Have you ever been in one of those social situations where you just didnít have anything interesting to say? And of course we all know what subject ultimately comes up in these instances. Movies! Well now youíll have something even more interesting to talk about to make such conversations more colorful. For those of you who still enjoy talking about movies, youíll find plenty of them with lively Fox Trot scenes. So hereís the exciting, fabulous, bigger than life history of the Fox Trot!

Step into any jazz club on a Friday night, and youíre bound to hear a Fox Trot. Itís Americaís favorite dance! Written in 4/4, it can be danced to most music types, whether slow or fast. If you can walk, you can dance the Fox Trot! Itís a traveling dance. Hitting the streets of New York City in the 1920ís, the Fox Trot emerged as a lively, bouncing dance which Americaís youth went wild over. The Fox Trot was popularized by Harry Fox, a young vaudeville comedian who incorporated a bouncy, trotting step nicknamed the Fox Trot. The energy of the dance was what teenagers were looking for, and subsequently the only truly American ballroom dance spread like a forest fire across the states. Today, the Fox Trot has evolved into a dance of social elegance, characterized by smooth, graceful and gliding movements and enjoyed by people of all ages. It remains Americaís best loved dance.


A basic understanding of the Fox Trot's rhythm and form will help you to pick up other dance steps with ease. In the Fox Trot, the first and third beats of every measure are more strongly accented than the second and fourth. It is danced in combinations of slow and quick steps, the most popular rhythms being slow-slow-quick-quick and slow-quick-quick. Each slow step counts for 2 beats while each quick step counts for one.

Fox Trot music is written in 4/4 time. It is danced in combinations of Slow (S) and quick (q) steps, with each Slow (S) step being long and graceful, and each quick (q) step being short and lively. To hear an example of a Fox Trot rhythm, listen to track number 4, 5, or 6 on the Ballroom for Beginners CD.

As mentioned before, the Fox Trot is typically performed in two different rhythms: Slow-quick-quick (Sqq) occupying one measure, and used in the Box Step, and Slow-Slow-quick-quick (SSqq) occupying one and one-half measures, and used in the progressive moves.

(Click here to look up a word in our glossary.)

Let's Dance

The Fox Trot is a progressive, or traveling dance. Get ready to move. Youíll be covering some ground. If you can walk, you should be able to master this smooth dance. Posture for the Fox Trot is upright, with a hold similar to that used in the Waltz. Focus on taking long steps during the Slow (S) counts, and short, lively steps during the quick (q) counts. As the tempo of the music increases, you will need to shorten your steps in order to maintain a lively ďtrotĒ and proper balance. Letís begin with a practice exercise. Practice individually and gradually move into Closed Position as you feel more comfortable and confident with the steps.

Stand upright with your feet together. You will be walking forward. Count aloud and step to the rhythm: slow-slow-slow-slow, or step-pause-step-pause-step-pause-step-pause. Hereís what the chart would look like:



Man's Part


Woman's Part



Left foot forward

Closed Position

Right foot back



Right foot forward

Closed Position

Left foot back



Left foot side

Closed Position

Right foot side



Right foot close

Closed Position

Left foot close

(Click here to look up an abbreviation.)

Putting It All Together

Now, letís try something different. This time, take two steps forward: Slow-Slow, or step-pause-step-pause. Remember, each Slow step will be twice as long as a quick step. Letís try a combination of these: Slow-quick-quick, or step-pause-step-step. This pattern of S-q-q is used in the Fox Trot Box Step. The three patterns you just practiced each comprise one full measure in 4/4 time. Now letís try a new pattern: Slow-Slow-quick-quick, or step-pause-step-pause-
step-step. This pattern occupies one and one-half measures in 4/4 time and is the pattern used in the Fox Trot Basic. Once you feel comfortable with the basic counts of the Fox Trot, begin practicing the variations. Movements in the Fox Trot should be graceful and smooth with long, reaching slow (S) steps and lively quick (q) steps. There should be no motion above the hips. Only the legs should move. Slow steps should be led with the heel of the foot while quick steps should be taken on the ball of the foot. The faster the music is, the shorter the step. Remember, the Fox Trot is for walkers, not runners!

Click here to proceed to Fox Trot Lesson 1.


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