Master the Quickstep Dance

Ballroom Dancing Basics

Couple dancing, ballroom dancing
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Much like a fast version of the Foxtrot, the Quickstep is a ballroom dance style composed of extremely quick stepping and syncopated feet rhythms in time to fast-paced music. Although difficult to master and perform, the Quickstep is lots of fun to watch.

Characteristics of the Quickstep Dance

Elegant, smooth and glamorous, Quickstep dancers are energetic while appearing extremely light on their feet. It may appear that the feet of the dancers barely touch the ground if they are doing it correctly. Much like the Foxtrot, dancers should strive for elegance. Upper body posture must be straight and strong throughout each movement to give the movement that light, airy appearance. It's also a joyful dance, making it enjoyable to practice and view.

Quickstep Action

The Quickstep usually follows a 4/4 time pattern. The basic feel of the Quickstep is slow-quick-quick, slow-quick-quick, with "slow" taking beats one and two, and "quick-quick" taking beats three and four. Most of the "slow" steps are taken on the heel, while most "quick" steps are taken on the balls of the feet.

History of the Quickstep

The Quickstep was developed in the 1920s in England, though other accounts say it originated in New York. During this time, many bands began playing the Foxtrot at a faster pace, earning the name Quick Foxtrot. The well-known Charleston appeared after this but lacked long-term potential. In 1927, however, the Charleston was combined with the Quick Foxtrot resulting in a name that was much too long: the Quick Time Fox Trot and Charleston, so it became known simply as the Quickstep. Finally, it was its own unique dance.

Distinctive Quickstep Steps

Distinctive to the Quickstep is an up-and-down, rise-and-fall swinging motion performed at a fast pace. Distinctive Quickstep steps include the following:

  • Rise and Fall
  • Lock Step
  • Natural Hairpin
  • Running Finish
  • Outside Change
  • Chasse'
  • Hover Corte'
  • V-6 Combination

Once dancers have mastered the basic Quickstep steps, turns and runs are added to give the dance more variety.

Music, Rhythm and Practice Tips

Music used for the Quickstep is usually jazz or swing with a brisk tempo of about 50 beats per minute. The tempo is a little faster than a brisk walking pace, although it seems much faster to beginners.

Dancer Kim Sheard offers the following tips for practicing:

  • Make sure that all forward and backward steps are “in line,” meaning that they are on the same track as your partner’s feet. Do not attempt to step around or outside your partner, just put your foot into the space that is left open by the other person's feet. 
  • When you attempt to turn corners, slightly change the degree of your turn on the side together to facilitate moving around the corner. Make sure that the man typically moves towards his left side, while the lady goes to her right.
  • Stepping forward? Use your heel as if you are walking normally. Going backward? Start on your toe and roll through your foot -- the natural instinct.