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The foxtrot is a graceful ballroom dance, in which couples use a combination of long walking movements and short quick steps to glide across the dance floor. Foxtrot has smooth gliding steps with a heel lead, controlled movement and an easygoing look.  It has less rise and fall than the Waltz as the emphasis is on progression.  The foxtrot is an all-purpose dance and is very popular among social dancers.

Foxtrot history

Foxtrot is the dance of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. This smooth and elegant dance had its beginnings in a New York theatre in 1914. There, a vaudeville actor named Harry Fox began dancing a series of trotting steps to ragtime music as a part of his act.

Eventually the dance evolved to incorporate the walking and brush steps that make this dance popular with beginners and advanced dancers alike.

Over time, the foxtrot split into slow and quick versions, referred to as "foxtrot" and "quickstep" respectively. In the slow category, further distinctions exist between the International or English style of the foxtrot, and the American continuity style, both built around a slow-quick-quick rhythm at the slowest tempo, and the social American style using a slow-slow-quick-quick rhythm at a somewhat faster pace. In the context of International Standard category of ballroom dances, for some time the foxtrot was called "Slow Foxtrot", or "Slowfox". These names are still in use, to distinguish from other types of foxtrots.

Foxtrot timing

Foxtrot is danced in a 4/4 time signature, while the waltz is danced in a 3/4 time signature. The American Style foxtrot tempo is between 120–136 beats per minute; The International Style foxtrot tempo is between 112–120 beats per minute, a faster tempo than the American style.

Foxtrot music

While the early form of the foxtrot was danced to ragtime music, the foxtrot is a versatile dance that can be performed to a variety of music. For instance, when rock ‘n’ roll became popular in the 1950s, dancers began pairing the foxtrot with the fast, accentuated beats. Today, the foxtrot is danced to big band music.

At its inception, the foxtrot was originally danced to ragtime. From the late 1910s through the 1940s, the foxtrot was the most popular fast dance, and the vast majority of records issued during these years were foxtrots. The waltz and tango, while popular, never overtook it. Even the popularity of the Lindy hop in the 1940s did not affect the foxtrot's popularity, since it could be danced to the same records used to accompany the Lindy hop.

When rock and roll first emerged in the early 1950s, record companies were uncertain as to what style of dance would be most applicable to the music. Notably, Decca Records initially labeled its rock and roll releases as "foxtrots", most notably "Rock Around the Clock" by Bill Haley and His Comets. Since that recording, by some estimates, went on to sell more than 25 million copies, "Rock Around the Clock" could be considered the biggest-selling "foxtrot" of all time.[4] Today, the dance is customarily accompanied by the same big band music to which swing is also danced.

Foxtrot steps

Based on the style of foxtrot, basic steps vary and include either slow steps (S or 2 beats) and quicks (Q or 1 beat). Regardless of style normally 1st and 3rd beat are accented for rhythmicality.

What is Rise and Fall in Foxtrot?

The dancers’ rise and fall motions cannot be mistaken for the waltz.  Foxtrot has less much more shallow rise and fall than the Waltz as the emphasis is on progression. 

Different styles of Foxtrot

There are two distinct styles of Foxtrot: American and International style.

Characteristics of the American Foxtrot

Movement and expression: As a social dance, the American Style foxtrot has a jazzy feel to it. Dancers can be more expressive in their movements and transitions.

Position: In the American Style foxtrot, dancer partners can separate and dance “open work.” The open position of the American Style also contributes to the freedom of expression associated with this foxtrot. Dancer partners can add their own flare to the movements.

Steps: The box step is a common footwork sequence for the American Style foxtrot. The formation begins with a forward step followed by a side step. This sequence is then repeated backward to form the pattern of a box on the floor. The box step is a great foundational footwork sequence for beginning dancers to learn.

Characteristics of the International Style Foxtrot

Movement and expression: Compared to American Style, International Style of the foxtrot is more smooth and gradual. This style of the foxtrot is somewhat more difficult because the slow movements need to be controlled. However, as a visual result, when dancing International Style, couples often exude an effortless elegance.

Position: The International Style foxtrot is danced in a closed ballroom position. Partners remain in contact throughout the entirety of the dance, so all their movements are done together. When dancing in a closed position, couples stand in front of one another at a slightly left angle.

Steps: The feather step is a common foot sequence for the International Style foxtrot. The male partner completes the third step outside of the female partner, showcasing the signature look of the step. This routine can be done in either three or four steps depending on the dance syllabus for the competition.


How to learn to dance Foxtrot.

To learn to dance Foxtrot you need to sign up for dance classes. Best way would be to register for private dance lessons. Private dance lessons are flexible to schedule. In addition, in private dance lessons we can focus on helping you to improve as fast as possible.

Is Foxtrot a good dance for beginners to learn?

With every dance there is varying levels of technique. At a basic level for beginner dancers Foxtrot is a great dance to learn. It offers a lot of versatility when going social dancing because it can be danced to a variety of music. We do recommend Foxtrot as a fairly easy dance for beginners to learn. It is one of the slower dances with very manageable tempo. Basic American Foxtrot steps are not very complicated.

Where can I dance Foxtrot?

There are several places you can dance Foxtrotes.

Dance Foxtrot at Ballroom Socials:

You can dance Foxtrot at Social Ballroom Dances at dance studios near you. At those events a mix of ballroom dances is played. However, since Foxtrot is so popular you will find quite a few Foxtrot songs to can dance to.

Dance Foxtrot at Weddings

Many weddings’ playlists include formal dances such as Foxtrot and Foxtrot.  So go ahead and impress all your friends how comfortably and naturally you dance Foxtrot. Make them all jealous.

Dance Foxtrot in your back yard.

 Who said you can’t dance Foxtrot in your back yard? It is your back yard after all. Play some Foxtrotes during your barbeque Sunday.  Back yard is a good place because it is most likely bigger than your kitchen. Foxtrot is a travelling dance and you do need some space to enjoy it. There are other dances you can dance in your kitchen or living room such as Salsa or Swing.