If you've ever studied ballroom dance or even taken a quickie wedding prep dance class, you've certainly learned the basic slow-slow-quick-quick of the Foxtrot. While this dance has evolved over the years since being brought to the public eye by Vernon and Irene Castle in 1914, it's still a social dance classic, and it's lent itself to cinematic and TV adaptations as well.
The early foxtrot before the 1930s was actually more of a ragtime dance and was considerably bouncier than we know it today. A perfect example is the "Foxtrot Epidemic" (the world's first flashmob?) in Ernst Lubitsch's silent film "The Oyster Princess".
Foxtrot Adapted for the Movies
While the Foxtrot showed up in many movie background scenes, it didn't get much recognition until Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers brought it to the big screen. Their version to "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes" from Roberta demonstrates the basic steps elevated to amazing artistry with balletic elements added for cinematic drama.
Return of the Foxtrot
While the Foxtrot remained a common dance through the 1940s and early '50s, it fell out of pop culture favor with the advent of rock and roll. It wasn't until the dawn of TV dance elimination shows that younger audiences got a peek at this ballroom staple. Here, celebrity Nicole Scherzinger competes with professional Derek Hough on "Dancing with the Stars", and shows the Astaire-Rogers influence on Foxtrot performances is still a strong one.
More Television Foxtrot Fun
While "Dancing with the Stars" pairs one novice dancer with a pro, "So You Think You Can Dance" asks young would-be professional dancers to partner with other wannabes in performances outside their genres. The results are astounding, as hip hoppers don tuxedos and ball gowns and ballet dancers get down with rap. The most versatile dancer, after weeks of eliminations, wins, and often the Foxtrot is a deciding factor in which pop-trained dancers can handle more classical choreography. Check out Caitlynn and Tadd, giving it their best:
With the Foxtrot getting more publicity than ever, it's sure to be even more in demand in ballroom classes. Now that you've had a chance to learn more about it, maybe you'll decide it's something to try for yourself too.