Diagrammatic Analysis – Swing Action in Foxtrot

A Diagrammatic Representation of the Foxtrot Swing Action in the Feather Step

In this detailed document, Barry Gasson provides a look at the swing action in Slow Foxtrot. Download the PDF file for access to the timing diagram. Shown below are notes about timing (these are also included in the PDF).

  • One bar of music in 4/4 timing: Four beats counted slow, quick, quick.
  • Knee compression means knee flexion with controlled tension.
  • When a foot placement occurs with the feet apart, the weight is momentarily evenly divided between both feet, it is then taken completely onto the new foot.
  • At the end of the third step the lowering action will blend with the knee compression of the commencement of the following dominant step (Heel-lead).
  • When weight is transferred onto a foot that has moved forward, the supporting knee must continue to move forward all the time there is weight on that foot.
  • When moving forward the knees must both move in the same direction…. forward.
  • When moving backward the knees must move in opposite directions. The supporting knee compresses forwards and downwards, while back leg is extended backward, first on the ball of foot, then toe.
  • If thrust and swing are not used, the dancer would be walking the slow step and running the two quick steps. This would be timing but not rhythm.

While the feet are landing more or less in unison with the music beats, it is what happens with the body action between the foot placements that determines whether the dancer is stepping or dancing. Hence my use of the long established formula:

MEASURE THE SLOW AND SWING TWO QUICKS

  • Measure the’ – represents the time taken to compress the standing knee to prepare for the initial thrust action, while the right leg commences to lever forward with the ball of foot in contact with the floor.
  • Slow’ – represents the right foot strike onto the heel.
  • And’ – represents the rise action which produces swing.
  • Swing’ – is the passage of the body through space.
  • Two Quicks’ – represents the left foot and right foot steps each counted quick, and each consumes one beat of music.
  • The body swing of Foxtrot finishes as the left foot is almost passing the right foot, at the end of the first step. By which time the left side has swung from back to forward, rather like a saloon swinging door in a western movie.
  • After the body swing, the legs both, in turn, perform a pendulum leg swing.
  • In each case there should be no extension. At the end of the leg swing, the weight is placed lightly on the foot, rather like Tarzan landing on a branch after swinging on a vine. Any attempt to extend the swing distance will lead to imbalance.
  • It is important to remember that Rise and Sway must never be increased in a Foxtrot swing action. In either case, to do so is to invite a foot closure, as in Waltz.

Click here to download the PDF file including the timing table

 
Contributor
Brigitt Mayer-Karakis is the author of the award winning book "Ballroom Icons", and chief archivist for the WDC Dance History project.
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