“Foxtrot,” Dean says, “is the swing dancer’s best friend—because you dance Foxtrot and Swing to the same great music.” In this workshop, we’ll explore some of the transitions between the two dances…both simple and flashy. And we will emphasize stellar technique because having a feel for the styling of Foxtrot is as important as knowing its legendary moves. The dance moves beautifully across the dance floor…it can be silky smooth…yet is inherently playful. With Foxtrot in your dance tool belt, you can glide to any music written in four/four time, from swing to hip-hop, from the Beatles to Beyonce. Seriously.
We’ll also unlock the simple keys to the structure of Foxtrot music. Once you understand what’s going on with this structure, your sense of mastery will increase exponentially. Grokking this simple musical structure will help you make the connection between the way you dance to the music that is playing. You will more easily interpret a song—actually dance to what you’re hearing—instead of merely going through a list of moves you once learned, with music playing incidentally in the background. Using these new understandings as a springboard, we will explore rhythm changes within a song, the various options for Foxtrot rhythms, and how to deftly lead and follow these transitions.
Foxtrot: The Swing Dancer’s Best Friend An Afternoon Workshop for Social Dancers with Seattle’s Dean Paton Designed for Advanced Beginners, Intermediate, and Advanced Dancers Saturday, December 10, at Lenora’s Ballroom—11:30 a.m. until 3:30 p.m. Dean introduced this Foxtrot workshop at the Seabeck Dance Camp, on Hood Canal, November 4 & 5, where camp attendees gave it rave reviews. Now he’s bringing this master class to Portland.
“I recently took a couple of Foxtrot workshops led by Dean at Seabeck. My Foxtrot has been fairly rusty and I found the classes really great. They covered the essential rhythms, footwork and moves very well.
“What I found especially delightful was the way Dean then used these foundations almost as a language that lets the dancers communicate by playing at changing the rhythms as the music progresses. As a learner, my attention can so often focus on ‘the move’ so much that the musicality itself gets left behind; in Dean’s class I left with a nice sense of how Foxtrot can be a fun way to explore musicality through this dance.” ~ Peter Shaw
If there’s time, Dean will introduce you to what he calls Close-Embrace Foxtrot, a style perfect for dancing in crowded clubs, at parties where nobody else knows how to dance with a partner in their arms, or on a jam-packed dance floor. Close-Embrace Foxtrot is the dance you saw people doing in dozens of classic movies, and is probably the dance your grandparents loved.
Dean is one of Seattle’s most popular dance instructors. His passion: non-competitive dance forms including waltz, swing, Foxtrot, Latin, polka, Argentine tango, one step, and the night club two-step. He emphasizes musicality and spontaneous partnering—that is, Dean emphasizes dancing in the moment, to the spirit of the music, without need for choreography, and with multiple partners—the very definition of social dance.
He loves getting chances to teach in Portland, and, for this visit, he’ll gear the workshop to people with some partner-dancing experience: advanced beginners, intermediate and more experienced dancers. “Foxtrot may have debuted in the early 20th century, but never make the mistake of thinking Foxtrot is somehow old fashioned,” Dean says. “It remains the most useful dance there is, because you can dance Foxtrot to anything except waltz.” The 4-hour workshop includes practice time as well as a brown-bag lunch discussion focused on Foxtrot and dance.
“My first goal in every class is always the same,” Dean says: “make it safe to screw up, safe to step on the wrong foot, safe to do even the simplest of moves completely wrong. Because only when you feel safe enough to make mistakes will you have enough confidence to take risks. And taking risks is necessary to really learn effectively.”
Dean studied for many years with the legendary Barry Douglas, and counts Joan Walton, Frankie Manning, and Richard Powers among his mentors. For nine years now he has taught at Seattle’s Century Ballroom, a Mecca for social partner dance, where he produces a 4th Sunday live-music dance called the Waltz Café as well as an outlandish Masquerade Ball each winter—this year on Friday, January 27. He also founded the Valse Café Orchestra, which has played numerous times at the Norse Hall here in Portland.
Workshop Schedule: 11:15 a.m. Registration and Stretching (with Music) 11:30 – 12:15 Foxtrot Fundamentals 12:15 – 12:25 Practice and Break 12:25 – 1:10 Essential Moves and Transitions 1:10 – 1:20 Practice and Questions 1:20 – 1:45 Brown-Bag Lunch and Discussion 1:45 – 2:30Flashier Moves & Rhythm Changes 2:30 – 2:50 Mixing Swing with Foxtrot 2:50 – 3:25 Close-Embrace Foxtrot 3:25 – 3:40 p.m. Practice
Cost: $40 for the whole afternoon. Pay at the door
Scandieclectic is a dance group motivated by the notion of doing un-choreographed social dancing, mostly waltz, as they do at Argentine vals tango or Waltz Eclectic dances, based on the fundamental traveling rotary ideas of traditional scandinavian folkdances, combined with cross-step waltz--danced to an eclectic mix of traditional scandinavian, folk-waltz, and modern music.
Lilli Ann Carey of Dance for Joy in Seattle is a regular instructor for Waltz Eclectic and promotes weekend workshop with out of town instructors such as Joan Walton from Stanford.
Random Waltz: Marion Newlevant has been a major part of Waltz Eclectic since its inception. With Random Waltz, she promotes events as a recent "flash dance" at Max stations, workshops and Thursday late nite waltz.
Dancing has throughout history been a way of bringing people together in community. People sharing in the joy of movement together to music is one of the defining aspects of any culture. In our culture, over the last generation or two we have become to a large degree isolated from sense of community. In Portland at least during the last ten years dancing communities are making a comeback and the waltz eclectic community is proud to be part of it.
After only a couple of visits, I think the strength of this community is in the overall warm and welcoming feeling between the dancers, but also, is fueled by your beautiful and interesting collection of songs which moves people emotionally, as well as physically. Your music tickles the brain and touches the soul! - Uwe Hessinger, Portland dance instructor
Video of 2010 Black and White Ball at Director Park, Portland