History of the Foxtrot:
Evolution of the Foxtrot Dance
In the summer of 1914, an American called Harry Fox
performed in New York. Born Arthur Carringford, he
stage-named himself Fox after his grandfather. He is
credited by most as the originator of the Foxtrot.
Harry had to take care of himself from the age of
fifteen. After brief stints in the circus and playing
baseball, a music publisher who liked his voice hired
him to sing in the vaudeville theaters in San Francisco.
After the earthquake in San Francisco and the fire of
1906, Harry migrated east to New York. There he married
Yansci Dolly of the Dolly Sisters. The two were seen
dancing a dance that put everyone in a good mood. The
audience named Fox’s dance “The Foxtrot”
There exists a parallel account of the origin of the
Foxtrot. The New York Theatre was one of the largest in
the world. It was being converted to a movie house. The
roof of New York Theatre was converted to a Jardin de
Danse. Harry Fox and his company – “American Beauties”
were selected to put on a dance act between shows. Fox’s
dance was an instant hit. He performed trotting steps to
ragtime music. His dance that put everyone in good humor
became known as Fox’s trot or The Foxtrot.
The Development of Foxtrot
Foxtrot soon developed into a very popular social dance.
It was performed by dancers down the years since Harry
Fox first originated the dance. The Vernon Castles were
exhibition dancers of outstanding talent. There is no
doubt that the Foxtrot had a major part to play in their
rise to fame.
While the dancing world’s elite were still trying to
capture the unusual style and movement of the Foxtrot,
G.K. Anderson, a very talented American came over to
London and won many dance competitions with Josephine
Bradley. He sealed the style of the Foxtrot with his
Ballroom dancing, of which the Foxtrot is one type, was
enjoying great popularity. It was needed to develop a
dance form that could express the slow syncopated 4/4
rhythm and still remain on-the-spot. The on-the-spot
dancing became known as crush, then rhythm dancing. It
is today known as social dancing
The Foxtrot evolved from the two-step. Unlike the
two-step, it is done with a broken rather than an even
beat (slow-slow, quick-quick). By September 3rd 1914
“The American Society of Professors of Dancing” had set
into motion the process of standardizing the steps of
An established dancer called Oscar Duryea was hired to
promote this dance to the American public. Since the
trotting could not be done for a long period of time
without tiring the dancers, Duryea modified the dance.
According to Duryea, the trotting steps were too much
for the ladies. The trot was replaced by a glide or a
“saunter”. This new style of foxtrot was an instant hit.
It has since remained an important part of the study
curriculum of dancing.
The Most Popular Social Dance: Foxtrot
Foxtrot quickly developed into the most popular social
dance. It is the easiest to pick up and the hardest to
master. Today, the Foxtrot is danced to popular musical
standards such as Tony Bennett and Frank Sinatra. It is
an extremely versatile dance and can be performed to
such music as fast country-western as well as slow
tangos. The foxtrot is a must have in a social dancers
quiver and it can be relied upon when all else fails.
In the American style, the Foxtrot is classified as a
“Smooth” dance. In the international style, it is called
a “Modern” or “Standard” dance. It progresses along the
line of dance or otherwise counter-clockwise around the
dance floor. It is characterized by its continuity, a
rhythmic rise and fall as well as rotation.
The bronze level of Foxtrot in the American style
requires a closing of the feet after side steps. The
silver and higher levels involve more movement and
fluidity. There are two Foxtrots in the international
style – slow and fast. Today, the fast style is known as
Quickstep and regarded as a separate dance.
The Foxtrots regular steps are done in square steps in a
circular motion. The music for the Foxtrot is perky,
flowing and in 4/4 time. This is why the steps are
regular. It is easy to keep the steps in a contained
area, though the Foxtrot can easily cover the dance
floor. There are a large number of variations possible
in Foxtrot and often dance companies make just this one
dance their specialty.
The Legacy of Foxtrot
From its beginnings with a man named Harry Fox, the
Foxtrot has grown in popularity into the most popular
social dance. It has been the subject of a number of
film and television shows. Some films are Foxtrot
Finesse, 1915 and The Fox Trot Craze, 1915. The Foxtrot
changed the dancing world and without it, many dance
performances would not be the same.
The Foxtrot has evolved into several versions. Two
Foxtrots are the Swing and the Jitterbug. One fast
Foxtrot that was earlier called the One-step is now
known as the Quickstep. A faster version of the original
is set to Waltz music. The Peabody and the Roseland
Foxtrot are different names for the Foxtrot. Because of
the variations in the Foxtrot and their popularity, the
Foxtrot is known as an incredibly social dance.
The Foxtrot started a wave of dance energy among the
American public. This energy was what teenagers were
looking for. Due to this, the Foxtrot, which is the only
truly American ballroom dance, spread rapidly across the
states. Today, the Foxtrot has evolved into a dance that
represents social elegance. The Foxtrot is now known for
its characteristic smooth, elegant, graceful and gliding
movements. The Foxtrot is a favorite among people of all
ages. It remains the most popular dance in the social
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