The Foxtrot is a smooth and elegant Ballroom dance that was a favorite of Fred and Ginger Rogers. It’s a versatile dance that can be danced to many different tempos and variety of music. Therefore, it’s a popular style to learn for a wedding dance or social events and dancing parties.
History of the Foxtrot
The exact origins of the Foxtrot remain unknown. However, a Vaudeville actor named Harry Fox who performed a variety act in New York City popularized the Foxtrot in 1914. Harry Fox was born with the name Arthur Carringford in 1882 in Pomona, California and was give then name of “Fox” after his grandfather.
At the age of 15, Fox was pushed to support himself and joined a circus for a short tour. For a brief time he also played professional baseball. Fox’s career developed further in San Francisco when a music publisher hired Fox to sing songs from the boxes of vaudeville theaters. In 1904, he appeared in a comedy titled “Mr. Frisky of Frisco” at the Belvedere Theatre. After San Francisco’s 1906 earthquake, Fox moved Eastward and landed in New York.
As Fox was getting his bearings on the East Coast, ragtime was born in 1910 and embraced across the United States. The dance was very different from previously popular and smoother ballroom waltz styles. Ragtime included partners dancing in a closer hold and improvising within the dances. Playful moves such as the kangaroo hop and turkey trop characterized this new dance style.
In 1914, Fox took the stage with his company of “American Beauties” in a New York theatre. Their dancing act was featured in between shows at the world’s largest movie house. One of their dancing acts included Henry trotting to ragtime music. The comical act was a hit and Fox’s “Trot” became popular in dance studios and dancing halls. It is believed that audiences tried to emulate Henry’s style of dance and called it “Fox’s trot.” In addition to this New York theater performance, the foxtrot gained momentum in the Jarin de Danse, which hosted a nightly revue.
At first, the Foxtrot had many short, “trotting” steps, as well as kicks, jumps and lunges. By the 1930s, the Foxtrot slowed down in tempo and dancers started taking longer steps and creating the elegant, continuous strides. When the dance migrated to Britain, ballroom experts smoothed the scampers, hops, and kicks out of Fox’s trot. This smoother version of the dance is much like the Foxtrot that is practiced today. Over time, the foxtrot split into quick and slow versions known as the “quickstep” and “foxtrot.” In the slower “foxtrot” version of the dance, International and American styles have distinguished the dance even further. It is used socially and popularly within ballroom dance competitions.
Foxtrot Dance Today
Today, the Foxtrot has evolved into a dance of social elegance and is celebrated by both the social dance circuit and competitive dance circuit.
In the competitive dance world, Foxtrot is found in both American Smooth and International Standard dance styles. International dancers often refer to Foxtrot as the “Slow Foxtrot.” This can lead people to think that Quick Step is the “Quick Foxtrot,” but Quickstep is really a dance of its own with aspects Foxtrot, Waltz, and other dances. In competitive American Smooth Foxtrot, dancers are allowed to dance in both open and closed frame positions. In competitive International Standard Foxtrot, dancers remain in a closed frame position.
In the social dance world, Foxtrot is more commonly found in dance studios, dance ballrooms, and venues featuring music for all the ballroom standards.
Today, the Foxtrot is easily recognizable because it was built off a foundation of simplistic walking steps and side steps. Slow steps and quick steps are utilized harmoniously in this dance. The slow steps use two beats of music and the quick steps use one beat of music. While dancing the Foxtrot, dancers strive to be completely smooth with no jerking movements and to have good timing. Often, it is recommended that new dancers learn the Waltz or Quickstep before learning the Foxtrot, as it is conceptualized as a more difficult dance.
A specific feature of the Foxtrot is the way dancers take long steps during the slower counts of music and shorter steps during the faster counts. The “trot” of this dance refers to the dancers shortening their steps as the music increases in tempo. Traditionally, the Foxtrot is danced to Big Band style music, however, many styles of music, including modern up –tempo songs and ballads, work well with the Foxtrot style dance. Today, contemporary pop music hits that work with the Foxtrot timing are just as popular for dancers as old Foxtrot classics.
Foxtrot dancing has caught the public eye as it was featured on National television on competitive reality shows such as “Dancing with the Stars” and “So You Think You Can Dance.” It’s also featured regularly on Brittan’s popular show “Strictly Come Dancing.” Foxtrot continues to be a ballroom dance standard and is a versatile favorite of both social and competitive dancers.
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- “L.O.V.E” Nat King Cole
- “The Best is Yet To Come” Michael Buble
- “It Had to Be You” Harry Connick, Jr.
- “Fly Me to the Moon” Frank Sinatra
- “Big Time” Big & Rich
- “You Got Me” Colbie Caillait
- “Maddest Kind Of Love” Big Bad Voodoo Daddy
- “A Wink and a Smile” Harry Connick Jr.
- “Charmed Life” Diana Krall
- “Ain’t That a Kick in the Head” Dean Martin
- “Why Don’t You Do Right” Pete Jacobs and his Wartime Radi
- “All I Do is Dream of You” Michael Buble
- “Oh Look At Me Now” Bobby Darin
- “All of Me” Michael Buble
- “Fly Me to the Moon” Frank Sinatra
- “Love You I Do” Jennifer Hudson
- “Baby its Cold Outside” Dean Martin
- “Baby You’ve Got What it Takes” Michael Buble and Sharon Jone
- “Come On Strong” Vanessa Williams
- “Wedding Bell Blues” The Fifth Dimension
- “Meet Me, Midnight” Renee Olstead
- “Better Together” Jack Johnson
- “Call Me Irresponsible” Bobby Darin
- “Choo Choo Ch’Boogie” Louis Jordan
- “You Make Me Feel So Young” Frank Sinatra
- “Come Dance With Me” Frank Sinatra
- “Deed I Do” Ella Fitzgerald
- “Dinah” Dean Martin
- “There’s a Rainbow ‘Round My Shoulder” Bobby Darin
- “I’m Beginning to See the Light” Kelly Rowland
- “Moondance” Van Morrison
- “Killer Queen” Queen
- “Penny Lane” The Beatles
- “The Sweet Escape” Gwen Stefani
- “You Are the Woman” FireFall
- “They Can’t Take That Away From Me” Robbie Williams
- “Time After Time” Rod Stewart
- “Five Minutes More” Frank Sinatra
- “Haven’t Met You Yet” Michael Buble
- “Tainted Love” Paul Young
- “You’re My Best Friend” Queen
- “Pink Elephant” Cherry Poppin’ Daddies
- “Love Song” Sara Bareilles