"Dancing Tid-bits" Issue #128, Thursday, Nov. 14, 2002

Dancing Tid-bits
Feather Step Timing, Controversy?

In Slow Fox, the timing of Feather step (RF, LF, RF for man) is Slow, Quick, Quick. Is there a problem with that? I don't think so, but obviously there are many who think otherwise and therefore this dancing tid-bit.

Slow has 2 beats and each Quick is 1 beat. This makes the timing for most slow fox steps as 12, 3, 4. If you try to teach students anything else, it is merely confusing. A classical lecture on that issue was given by Richard Gleaves at the Blackpool Congress (perhaps 1992-94). Has dancing changed so much in 10 years that the timing of Feather step now is 2, 3, 41?

Sure, someone will say, hey Max! You don't know what musical expression is and if you really know your slow foxtrot you do dance 2, 3, 41. I really don't get it. Sorry.

However I do understand this much that you must not rush specially so in foxtrot. So, if it is a slow step you must take all the time allowed in music and then proceed with quicks. Of course then comes the lazy gliding character of this dance where a transition from one step to the other must be smooth, with proper body flight and steps have to be coordinated. If you strictly dance SQQ it can even look quite robotic. I don't mean it that way.

On 1-2 (Slow) you have arrived on the RF. Let's divide this slow as 1&2&. On 1 you have placed the heel forward. The toes comes down and there is midstride and all that. The important thing is that the LF should not pass the RF till you have eaten up the &2&. In other words your weight is there on RF for a full 1 1/2 beats. You kill your body flight (?) from then on to do 3& and 4& for the two Q's.

I do recall the video from John Wood where he says the Body speed and the Foot speed are 2 different things and he suggests the timing of Quick, Medium Slow, but I think this interpretation should be analyzed carefully and I would not want to modify the conventional foxtrot timing even for an advanced student. To tell a student to dance 2, 3, 41 will be simply confusing and will negate expression.

I say all of the above after I have discussed this with at least 5 world class champions who have danced at the British Open in Blackpool. I waited to say all that boldly and this thread is now open for discussion.

With good wishes, Max

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