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Learn all about the Quickstep!

What is the Quickstep?

The quickstep is a popular ballroom dance that originated in the Charleston and the foxtrot crazes of the 1920s. Faster than the foxtrot, it’s a relatively easy dance to learn but challenging to master, particularly as you progress through the fundamentals. It requires a lot of energy and the ability to dance lightly and gracefully on your feet; the best quickstep dancers often appear as if their feet barely touch the ground.

History of the Quickstep

The quickstep developed in the golden age of the Charleston dance craze of the 1920s. British dancers in England began combining the smooth steps of the Charleston — minus the energetic kicks — with the rhythm and flow of the Foxtrot, which was also enormously popular at the time. For many dancers, the foxtrot proved too slow in tempo, however, and as the swinging big bands began to play a faster beat, dancers followed suit and created what became known as the Quick Foxtrot. Eventually, it became known as the “Quickstep” and evolved into its own distinctive dance style.

Although the quickstep was heavily influenced by the jazz culture of the period, it owes some of its movements to the equally popular Afro-Cuban and Latino dance crazes of the 1920s and 1930s. Its rapid tempo and quick changes borrowed from the tango and the rumba, while the gliding, elegant “walking” steps are a nod to its origins in the foxtrot. While it relies heavily on forms, the quickstep also easily lends itself to improvisation so that advanced students and professionals who master the fundamentals can perform beautifully in competitions as well as on the dance floor.

How to Dance the Quickstep/Basic Steps

The quickstep is generally performed on 4/4 time. True to its name, the quickstep does require relatively fast movements, but the basic steps are easy to learn. Keep in mind the following as you learn to dance the quickstep:

  1. Both the leader and follower should maintain an upright posture throughout the dance.
  2. The basic rhythm is slow-quick-quick.
  3. As you become more confident in dancing the quickstep, practice how to fluidly transition from one step to the next at a beat that will make it seem as if you’re floating just off the ground.
  4. Take your time and build your endurance. It’s not called the quickstep for nothing! Master the fundamentals so that you can learn to improvise with ease and without tiring too quickly.

The basic quickstep is as follows:

  1. Begin in a closed position.
  2. Step forward with your right foot. (slow)
  3. Step to the left with your left foot, then slide your right foot to close with your left foot. (quick)
  4. Step to the left again with your left foot. (quick)
  5. Step backward with your right foot. (slow)
  6. Step to the left with your left foot, then slide your right foot to close with your left foot. (quick)
  7. Step to the left with your left foot. (quick)

Great Quickstep Songs

“Mack the Knife” – Bobby Darin
“Charade” – Bobby Darin
“Down with Love” – Michael Buble and Holly Palmer
“I Won’t Dance” – Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong
“Suddenly I See” – KT Tunstall

Quickstep in the Movies

“Shall We Dance” (1996) (original Japanese)
“Shall We Dance” (2004) (American remake)

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