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story by Danceus Staff for DanceUs.org

The Creation of Foxtrot, Styles, Dancers & Competitions

The Creation of Foxtrot

Harry Fox, a vaudeville actor among other things, developed the Foxtrot dance in 1914. After being left to his own devices at the age of 15, Fox explored many career options. He performed in a circus briefly, played professional baseball for a short time but eventually settled on vaudeville performances in New York City.

Fox worked with Yansci Dolly, of the acclaimed Dolly Sisters, on a show credited to Hammerstein. Simultaneously, he was chosen to perform vaudeville acts at the world's largest theater of the time. The New York Theater asked Fox and his company, the American Beauties, to work on a dance act to be performed between other shows debuting at the theater. Dolly and her team danced in the evenings on the roof of the theater, as well.

The whole shebang was a huge success, and the dance he concocted was named the Foxtrot. The Fox part of the title was obviously named after the dance's creator. The 'trot' part referred to the 'trotting' appearance that the dance portrayed as it was performed to ragtime music.

The unique dance caught on amongst the most gifted dancers of the city, as well as average folks across the nation. G.K. Anderson and Josephine Bradley took the Foxtrot overseas to London and secured several competition titles. Dancers the whole world over have been trotting ever since.

Foxtrot Specific Movements

The Foxtrot is written in 4/4 time. The dance itself is very versatile, which can make it a bit difficult to learn for some. It is an immensely graceful dance, despite its reference to trotting.

  • The second and fourth beats of each measure is less accented than the first and the third.
  • Steps are not uniform in terms of tempo, but are a combination of both fast and slow steps. The quick steps count for only one beat. The slow steps are two.
  • Foxtrot 'travels' across the dance floor.
  • Ideally, the quick steps are full of life and pronounced, while the short steps are far more graceful.

Primary Foxtrot Styles

There are primarily two styles of Foxtrot; the International Standard and the Quickstep. Both styles developed at the same time, but on different continents. Communication barriers impeded a uniform style.

  • The International Standard is sometimes referred to as the Slow Foxtrot, and developed in Europe. As such, it has an English flavor with heavy emphasis on foot positions and hold. Generally, the Slow Foxtrot is more complicated than the American version.
  • The Quickstep developed in America, and has a hold where the lady is at a further distance from her gentleman partner. Although danced at a faster pace, the Quickstep is not as versatile in terms of movements as the International Standard Foxtrot. However, it is also widely considered to be more creative.

Dancers who made Foxtrot Famous

Along with many others already mentioned, Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire can be credited for many of the popular figures that the Quickstep now offers up. They made these moves famous on film decades ago, but the influence has stuck.

Foxtrot's Musical Selections

Unlike many other ballroom dances, Foxtrot does not have a set musical style to accompany it. Originally, the dance was performed to Ragtime music. As the dance and time progressed, however, it is more commonly performed to Big Band music.

New Foxtrot Movements

The two different styles of Foxtrot became distinctive during the 1930's. However, recently dancers from each region has begun to combine elements of both the International Standard and the Quickstep into a whole separate style altogether.

Competitions Abound the World

There are numerous Foxtrot competitions throughout the world, as it is one of the more difficult and popular ballroom dances. There are options for those who wish to compete in the both the International and Quickstep styles.

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