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Quickstep Instructions

Updated April 17, 2017

Quickstep is a fast and energetic ballroom dance that started in the 1920s. It is a combination of the Foxtrot and the Charleston. It travels around the ballroom, just like the Foxtrot and Waltz, and stops here and there for a lively Charleston kick pattern. The main challenges of Quickstep are keeping up with the fast pace of the music and staying in sync with your partner at the same time.

Quickstep Basics

The basic pattern in Quickstep is known as quarter turns, or the forward and back basic. It starts with the leader facing the wall at a 45-degree angle and proceeds around the room in a counterclockwise direction. The forward half of the basic is danced toward the wall at the 45-degree angle. The back portion is danced with the leader backing away from the wall at a 45-degree angle, travelling in the counterclockwise direction. Some terms that will help you with orientation are facing diagonal wall, backing diagonal wall, facing diagonal centre and backing diagonal centre.

The leader starts facing diagonal wall with his weight on his left foot. Then he steps forward with his right foot toward diagonal wall and begins to turn slightly to the right as he steps. Then he steps to the side with his left foot and continues to turn so that he is backing diagonal centre and has turned 90 degrees to his right. The dancer then steps together with the right and back with the left so that he is still backing diagonal centre. The timing for this pattern is slow, quick, quick, slow.

The follower does the opposite. She starts backing diagonal wall with her weight on her right foot. Then she steps back on the left beginning a slight turn to the right. She steps side with her right, completing the 90-degree turn so that she faces diagonal centre. She closes with her left foot and steps forward toward diagonal centre with her right foot.

For the back basic, the dancers begin where they left off, with the leader backing diagonal centre. Then the leader steps back with his right foot, beginning a slight rotation to the left. He steps to the side with his left foot, completing the 90-degree turn so that he faces diagonal wall again, steps together with his right foot and then to the side with his left foot. The timing is still slow, quick, quick, slow. The leader's right foot is free to start the forward basic again.

The follower again does the opposite. She steps forward with her left foot, beginning a slight turn to her left. Then she steps side with her right foot, completing the 90-degree turn. The follower closes her left foot to her right foot and steps to the side with her right foot. She should end backing diagonal wall with her left foot free, ready to start again with the forward basic.

Try dancing the basic with a partner in the ballroom dance hold. The leader places his right hand on the follower's left shoulder blade and holds his elbow up. The follower places her left arm on the leader's shoulder. The palm of the leader's left hand and the follower's right hand touch, and the fingers rest gently around the partner's hand. The dancers should be offset from each other so that each dancer's right foot points between the partner's feet. This keeps them from stepping on each other as they dance.

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About the Author

Mary Fenton received a Bachelor of Arts in dance with an emphasis on performance and choreography from the University of California, Los Angeles. She has been a professional dancer, dance teacher, Realtor and writer.