Some of the Dances We Teach — Videos 

Some of the dances we play with and teach

Zachariah and I taught together for seven years.  These videos are from that time.  We’ve added a class at Waltz Etc. and I’m teaching the new class with Henry while Zachariah teaches with Lynn.  We’re still teaching these dances at WE.  Henry and I teach the beginning level while Z and Lynn teach the intermediate level.


Foxtrot is such a versatile dance, you can do it to almost any kind of music.  Well, “foxtrot” is just a fancy way of saying “two-step” — a dance that utilizes two kinds of steps — quick ones (one beat) and slow ones (two beats).  Many dances are built on different combinations of these two kinds of steps.  Add some flavoring, like bent or straight posture, little bounces, some hip action or other isolations, and you have many of the different dances that are done on the American dance floor. 

Swingin’ Foxtrot — a traveling dance (or not) with a swing-like feel, lots of swingy turns and playful action.

Dancing with Zachariah to “Fireflies” (2009) by Adam Young aka Owl City. Electronic Synthpop, first released as a single and later on several of Owl City’s albums. The song reached #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in November of 2009. The synthesizer is prominent in the music track and the syncopated drum and lyrics with emphasis and pauses in unexpected places give it an interesting sound and feel.  The subject matter — lightning bugs, summer and not being able to fall asleep — add whimsy and help keep it light and fun to dance to. 
(Wikipedia,, accessed 6/8/14.) (Available on Google Play, iTunes, AmazonMP3)

The syncopated 4/4 timing of this song invites a swingy feel, but it’s not a swing song, it’s a foxtrot.  In fact the singer mentions “foxtrot" in the lyrics.  You can see the QQS rhythm in our feet. (Q1-Q2-S3-4).  This dance travels, but it doesn’t have to travel all the time, as you can see around 1:20 and other places, when we stop traveling and dance in place for awhile.  The song also invites a bit of bounce and some goofing around as we play around with the rhythms and each other. 

"Just the Two of Us” (1981) written by Bill Withers, William Salter and Ralph MacDonald, recorded by Grover Washington, Jr. and Bill Withers. This is an R&B, jazz/smooth jazz song.  Grover Washington (1943-1999) was a well known and highly regarded jazz and soul saxophonist, considered to be one of the founders of smooth jazz, with several successful albums. This song reached #2 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, crossed over onto the Soul and Adult Contemporary charts and won him a Grammy in 1982 for the Best R&B song. (Wikipedia

Another swingin’ foxtrot — we differentiate between songs that invite a regular foxtrot rhythm (SQQ or SSQQ) and what we call a swinging foxtrot (QQS).  Doing the quick steps first gives it a ‘rock step’ feel which is more swing like but still allows us to travel and turn as a couple — or not — and we get to play, with each other and with the rhythm, as you can see.  Clearly we take neither ourselves, nor dancing, too seriously.

Swinging Foxtrot lends itself to many styles of music.  This is a world music song, falling in the International Rap genre, from SMOD, a group of African rap artists from Mali.  This song doesn’t sound like the American rap I’ve heard.  It’s rhythmic and melodic, has a “lilting groove,” as described by Phil Freeman on, and is beautifully sung in French.  It sounds sweet, even.  As Phil says, it ”...drifts by like a lazy white cloud on a beautiful summer day, leaving only positive feelings in its wake." The song is “Problèmes Dans Ma Tête” (2011).  While I have not been able to find a ready-made translation of the lyrics, the title translates to “Problems in my head” and comes on their only album release, SMOD. [Wikipedia (,    ( both accessed 6/8/14] (available through Google Play, iTunes, AmazonMP3 & eMusic) 

With a good groove like this song has, it’s fun just to do basics, which we do for most of the first whole minute, sometimes turning, sometimes not, meandering around the dance floor.  We do a few follow’s turns and eventually throw in some other stuff and play around with the rhythm, but this dance is mostly basics.  Totally fun!

Sometimes it’s mostly about — no *all* about att-i-tude!  This is a fun one.  I didn’t know it at the time, but the way we’re dancing totally reflects not only this song, but the group that did it.  The song, “Breathin’” by The Asylum Street Spankers, was composed by Christina Marrs, one of the band members, and released on their album My Favorite Record, in 2002.  It’s a folk blues song done in an acoustic blues, neo-traditional folk style.  Genre-and-style-wise, this group covers the map — progressive folk, jazz blues, ragtime, roots rock, comedy rock… If you like them you can find them on Facebook and at Yellow Dog Records. [(Wikipedia, & (') both accessed 6/8/14] (Available on Google Play, eMusic, AmazonMP3, & iTunes.)

This song invites a lot of play within a syncopated cha-cha-like rhythm —(S-S-cha-ch'-cha-S-S-cha-ch'-cha).  The “S” is a 1 beat step, the "cha-ch’-cha" is a triple step — three steps in two beats.  While we don’t always step on the beat, you can see us keep the rhythm somewhere in our bodies, or in our stops, and starts again on the ‘1’. There’s a bluesy, swingy feel, but the forward and back direction is latiny — dance fusion at it’s most fun.

You can do so much with waltz.  It’s not your great-granny’s waltz anymore — well, it’s that and so much more.  Here are three styles of waltz — no,  more than that — because, as you can see, the flavor of waltz changes as the music changes, even if the “style” remains the same.  So now we have one genre — waltz, three styles — one-step, viennese and cross-step, and bunch of flavors, depending on the music….

The epitome of cross step waltz, Richard Powers and Angela Amarillas.  Cross step waltz, as it’s danced today, came out of a class Richard was teaching at Stanford in 1995.  It was a class in an early 20th century dance called the Boston, which also crosses.  A couple of his students took it a step further, Richard saw them, and the rest is history….  Cross step waltz has gone viral, all over the world (is that redundant?) 😉  Try it.  You’ll probably like it!

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