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quickstep counting
Posted by Thsballroomdanceman
10/31/2014  4:51:00 PM
Is the quickstep really as fast as sqq sqq sqq on the quicker songs in one measure (such as in the song Pep, Vim, and Verve by Bill Elliot Swing Orchestra), or am I counting it wrong? TIA!
Re: quickstep counting
Posted by nloftofan1
11/2/2014  10:57:00 AM
Our favorite dance instructor told us that taking big steps makes Quickstep easier. Usually, instructors say (for some of the Latin dances, for example) things like "The tempo is fast so your steps have to be small." But surprisingly, for Quickstep our instructor was right. Taking small steps seems to make the tempo feel faster than it is.
Re: quickstep counting
Posted by Quickstep.
11/11/2014  5:54:00 AM
Not a good idea to take big steps. Use the average size door frame as a guide.
Stand on the diagonal facing the right side of the frame. Take the first step in that direction. Your side together side and lowering vertically will be about the width of the door frame give or take a few inches. Try keeping the feet under your hip line. I doubt if taking big steps will have any bearing with your ability to dance a comfortable Quickstep.
Re: quickstep counting
Posted by Waltz123
11/11/2014  9:24:00 AM
It's not the size of your step that matters; It's how you use it. Or so they say. (c:

When teachers talk about faster tempo requiring smaller steps, they're actually only giving you half of the story. The reality is, as the tempo increases, one of either two things must happen: Either (1) your steps must get smaller if your body speed through space remains constant, or (2) your body speed through space must increase if your step size is to remain constant.

There is actually a perfect, three-way relationship between the following 3 things:
(1) Time between steps
(2) Space between steps
(3) Body speed through space

If you fix any one of those elements, the remaining two then become directly proportional. As one increases or decreases, so does the other, and vice-versa. Most of the time in our dancing, the fixed element is #1: Time between steps. The timing of the pattern combined with the tempo of the music dictate the exact amount of time between each of the foot falls. So the remaining two, space between steps and body speed through space, become perfectly proportional. You can either move less and take smaller steps, or you can move more and take larger steps. The choice, then, simply becomes one of ability and preference.

Those who have trouble "keeping up" with the tempo of the music while executing a particular figure, assuming the timing is fixed, must choose between shortening the steps or increasing body speed in order to cover the space that the full-sized steps require. Sometimes for various reasons, your perception of things can trick you into feeling otherwise, but this fact is pretty much an absolute.

My guess as to why nloftofan's instructor asked for bigger steps was to elicit an increase in effort to move more. The size of their steps may have increased somewhat, but if the perception was that it was easier to stay on time (and assuming the perception was correct), the only explanation is that an unintended side effect of the increased effort was an even greater increase in the body movement through space.

Any instruction based on perceptions will always get mixed results, because different people feel and react to things differently. So who knows... It certainly can't hurt to try this method out and see if it helps. If your reaction to taking bigger steps is move your body faster, and your increase in body speed ends up being greater than your increase in step size, then it might just work for you. But if it doesn't, at least you know the reason why. In the end, if you can't keep up with the timing of any particular pattern, you're ultimately going to have to either move your body faster, take smaller steps, or find some happy medium between the two.

Jonathan Atkinson
Re: quickstep counting
Posted by Quickstep
11/11/2014  5:36:00 PM
Waltz 123. Being that the Quickstep moves sideways. Meaning we are never square to the direction we are travelling. Do you believe that we drive our hip more over our left side which we don't do in a Waltz. Also is the contact point between partners is a little higher than in the before mentioned Waltz.
Re: quickstep counting
Posted by Waltz123
11/12/2014  9:34:00 PM
Being that the Quickstep moves sideways. Meaning we are never square to the direction we are travelling. Do you believe that we drive our hip more over our left side which we don't do in a Waltz.

I don't believe Quickstep movement is any different than Waltz in terms of our directions of travel. Slightly higher in the legs and point of body contact, sure, but that has little bearing on the direction. Neither dance moves particularly sideways overall, any more than they move directly forward or back, except through fleeting moments of transition. Most movement in the swinging dances -- Waltz, Quickstep or otherwise -- should be predominantly diagonal, to an ever-fluctuating degree as we move through our turns.

Charlotte Jorgensen has some very nice exercises that help dancers learn how to dance through diagonal directions. I'm hoping I can bring her in for our next video shoot in February to do some guest lectures for our website. If not this time, then sometime soon...
Re: quickstep counting
Posted by Voco
11/12/2014  12:54:00 AM
Hi Jonathan,

Your above explanation makes a lot of sense. One question: It looks as if in competitive Standard the latest trend is covering a lot of territory fast. Is my observation correct?
Re: quickstep counting
Posted by Waltz123
11/12/2014  9:17:00 PM
It looks as if in competitive Standard the latest trend is covering a lot of territory fast. Is my observation correct?

It's not really meant to be a race to see who gets around the floor the fastest. So in terms of composition, Quickstep routines are basically balanced on the whole, as they should be. Yes, they will contain groups that race across the floor at top speed, but they will also pause for highlights, as well as dancing groups that aren't meant to cover space as quickly, showcasing different qualities of the Quickstep -- swinging, turning, shaping, hopping and jumping around, etc.

Interestingly, the groups that do move across the floor at top speed are not typically the ones that employ the larger steps. The greatest body speed through space is achieved through a number of small-to-medium steps taken in much quicker succession -- say, for example, 5 steps in the same space of time that you might normally take just two or three steps at the bronze level. The difference here is that the dancers are taking control of the third element in the 3-way relationship -- time between steps. They do this not by changing the tempo, of course, but by using step timings that allow for more steps, such as Q&QQQ. With that many steps squeezed into a measure of music, there is a limit to how big each of those steps can be. But the overall distance covered in that time will be greater than what they would have covered with fewer, larger steps.

So in other words, when you get to pick your own timings through choreography, you can move faster simply by dancing faster rhythms, in spite of the fact that each individual step might have to be slightly smaller. But when the timing is fixed and steps are slightly slower (SQQ, etc), bigger means faster through space. Even top-level Quickstep still has its fair share of basic, swinging actions -- open naturals, running finishes, quick open reverses, etc. And during those more moderate rhythms where you have a deeper, Waltzier swing, the steps will be larger to maximize the distance, and therefore the body speed through space.

But whereas top competitive pros will tend to strive for maximum output to get an edge over their competition, I wouldn't recommend this be the goal of the average syllabus dancer, or even the novice competitive dancer, for that matter. The pursuit of distance can easily break the form, and any perceived benefits will be outweighed by the liability of compromised posture, effortful movement and/or awkward delivery from foot to foot. This is, of course, a very individual choice, best made not on one's own, but by an experienced coach who has a good awareness of his students' skills.

Nonetheless, having an understanding of the relationship between body speed through space, time between steps and space between steps is a useful tool to help you see the big picture and make better informed decisions when it comes to staying on time with the music.

Re: quickstep counting
Posted by socialdancer
11/11/2014  9:45:00 AM
Big or small steps may be misleading, step size is all relative.
The advice to keep steps small in fast latin dances is based on the fact that there is usually a reversal or at least a strong change of direction involved and if the body moves too far it can be difficult to get it back.
This does not apply in the quickstep so the advice to take big (or not too small) steps is fine. Beginners very often skip in the chasses as Telemark says and that is difficult to stop if we focus on it directly. If instead, we concentrate on driving into the preceding Slow step then the Quicks usually take care of themselves and the skipping disappears. It's probably a similar effect to that mentioned by Telemark with the non-standard counting. That sounds like something worth trying but it may rely on the pupils having learnt a waltz chasse before they start learning quickstep.
Re: quickstep counting
Posted by O.K.
11/17/2014  2:18:00 AM
I think that to suggest bigger steps in the Quickstep is wrong. It can give an inexperienced dancer the wrong impression. For instance the person on the inside of a turn should know that person must take a smaller step than the person on the outside of the turn. To do it that way will ensure that person on the inside does not arrive before their partner. Telling somebody to take bigger steps is not going to help.Something else according to one of the greats, Marcus. We very rarely use the center of our heel. We should use either to the left side of our heel or the right side but not the center. Because we never should step dead square to our front. The same applies to the toe area of our foot. Wonderful thing this Inter- net.
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