Encyclopedia of Dance: Quickstep
Quickstep is a dance that embodies the cheerfulness of youth, the elegance of maturity, and the experience of old age.
The term Quickstep literally means «quick step» in English. The dance, with such a name, is performed easily, gracefully. The dancers seem to float weightlessly over the dance floor. Quickstep is one of the dances included in the standard ballroom sports program. It is called the «small grammar» of the compulsory program.
The quickstep is a variation of the foxtrot. Appearing at the beginning of the 20th century, this dance made its own adjustments to the sedate, noble foxtrot, thereby laying the foundation for the pace and rhythms of the new century.
The history of the origin of the dance
1923 can be considered the birth year of quickstep. This year, the Paul Wightman Orchestra performed in the UK, which introduced the European public to the new tempos and rhythms of traditional dances.
Quickstep appeared in New York during the 1st World War. Its first performers were African dancers who made their debut at the American Music Hall. In the dance halls of that time, the traditional foxtrot began to be performed at a faster pace. Not all dancers coped with dance steps at such a pace, and new ones were invented to replace the old movements on the go, which laid the foundation for a new dance — the quickstep or fast foxtrot. In the clubs of that time, signs were specially hung out with the notice that the foxtrot was danced here at a fast, and not at a slow pace. This was done in order not to mislead fans of traditional, slow dance.
The basis of the new quickstep dance movements was modified combinations of the then popular shimmy, Charleston, foxtrot and blackbottom dances.
What is Quickstep?
The musical size of the dance is 4/4. The first and third beats of the bar are accented. Music sounds at a fairly fast pace — 48-50 bars or 200 beats per minute. The dance consists of fast and slow combinations. Slow combinations are performed on two scores of musical accompaniment, fast ones — on one.
The basic quickstep steps are easy to learn, as they match the musical accompaniment, and even beginners will enjoy this dance. Experienced dancers, performance after performance, will find new facets of perfection in quickstep, which will add lightness and grace to the most complex combinations.
The main figures of the quickstep are the chasse and the basic step. Having studied the basic step, you can move on to turns: quarter, natural, reverse. Quickstep is replete with jumps, jumps with turns and stained glass windows to the right and left, kicks.
In the USA, training in quickstep in most specialized choreographic schools begins after other dances of the standard program have been mastered. This is because, starting learning quickstep, the student must already have a developed ear for music and master the basics of movement to music.
Quickstep is full of various jumps both in advance and in turns and on the spot. The movements of modern quickstep have changed a lot compared to the movements of the current 20s of the last century. Smooth lifting steps make the quickstep look like a slow waltz, but the fast pace and jump combinations distinguish the quickstep from all dances of the standard program.
Since the quickstep is characterized by a joyful, perky character, this dance looks and is performed with pleasure. Quickstep is impossible without sparkling lightness coming from within. It is no coincidence that this dance is called the «dance of joy»
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