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Foxtrot Music Theory: Is The Accent On 1-3 Or On 2-4?



Giacomo Pasutto, a professional drummer from Italy, will explain the music structure of this dance.

Matteo: What is the difference between straight tempo, swing, and shuffle?

Giacomo: Trying to write down the differences of the swing and shuffle as rhythmic style is a challenge because this kind of style has been passed down from generation to generation by word of mouth. We should keep in mind that every theoretical approach is something that comes close, but not exactly where the definition of swing and shuffle should be. As Marco Di Battista says in his book Improvvisazione jazz consapevole this is also because “we use a European Approach, called Divisive, of the theory to explain styles that find their roots in the African Culture which is based on Additive conception”.

Every transcription, score, or music can also be played with more or less swing or shuffle “feel” that we can’t write down. For example, modern shuffle comping is different from the oldest one in terms of interpretation of the subdivision. It depends also on the musician’s choice and background.

To understand and explain which are the differences between these tempos in indications  I’ll offer some examples.

The Straight Tempo

The straight tempo is simply the exact interpretation of a regular beat in terms of feeling and playing a score or music. Imagine that we have a measure of 4/4 and 1 quarter note per beat so if we clap the hands on every quarter note, we will have 4 Claps/Notes in one measure that takes the downbeat and upbeat.

Foxtrot Music Theory: Is The Accent On 1-3 Or On 2-4?

Now, what happens if we want to clap the hands two times at the same distance, in one beat? We will have one clap on downbeat and one clap on upbeat. These are called “eighth notes” so 8 notes/claps in one measure.

We can check how the notes are regularly subdivided between the downbeat (numbers) and the upbeat (e). So, paying attention to the regular pulsation we can hear the “Straight feel”, a perfect subdivision of the beats that can be also played in quadruplet (per beat) so, 16 notes in one measure.  

Swing and Shuffle

Now imagine playing 3 eighth notes in one beat. We will have an “Eighth Notes Triplet” – an irregular group/subdivision placed between the downbeat and the upbeat.

If we place a rest on the second note of the triplet we can see the “basic” of the swing/shuffle triplet feel. The shuffle often is written in 12/8.

The regularity and the shuffle feel

Now comes the hardest part!

We should first say that the terms swing and shuffle can also be used to indicate a musical genre. But, here we are talking about swing and shuffle as rhythmic styles, so the differences in drumming are in the comping.

In swing and in shuffle, the strong pulsation is always on 2 and 4 of the measure.

For example, when playing the drums in the shuffle, this pulsation is strongly accented on the snare and the duration of the first note is something like two times of the third note. Nevertheless, it depends on genres: for example, in modern shuffle rock/blues the pulsation is more “regular”.

In the swing comping, instead, the 2 and 4 are accented on the Hi-Hat while snare keeps the “suspended feel” with free comping improvisation.

Foxtrot Music Theory: Is The Accent On 1-3 Or On 2-4?

And also in swing rhythm, the pulse is divided unequally. Therefore, certain subdivisions, typically either the eighth note or the sixteenth note subdivisions, alternate between long and short durations.

The “regularity” of the subdivision depends on the musician’s background, style, and musical genre. It can be changed by delaying the 3rd note of the triplet (the upbeat) close to the next downbeat. Here is a link where you can see all the differences in terms of ratio between the notes.

Here are two examples of “regular” triplet pulsation of the shuffle/rock comping:

In terms of musician’s choice, in “Pride and Joy”, you can hear how Stevie tries to “rag” the time while he’s singing, just playing a delayed chord on the upbeat with the guitar.

Now, if we take a look at this Jazz Shuffle record of 1961 we can easily listen how the 3rd note of the triplet (the upbeat) is much more delayed, close to the next downbeat. We can also observe how the swinging feel of soloists can coexist with the shuffle comping played by the drummer Philly Joe Jones.

Heads Up For Music Nerds: At min 2:50 something happens. Philly starts to play the Ride Cymbal on every quarter notes and the snare only on the 4th beat leaving more space for the Wynton Kelly’s solo and you can easily check how the pulsation becomes less “ragged”, and more of a  “regular” triplet.

Here’s another example of Jazz Shuffle played by the Roy Hargrove’s Big Band where you can hear the 3d notes delayed and the strong 2 and 4 accents on the snare.

The pulse perception

Often in the traditional swing, the Rhythm Section – the core group of instruments that plays the accompaniment – in the introduction of the theme does what we call “plays in 2” or half bass, a kind of halved time where the accent seems to be on the 1 and 3.

Let me give some definitions here:

  • Playing in 4 or Walking Bass = to play every beat of the measure;
  • Playing in 2 or Half Bass = to play half beat of the measures (example: 1 and 3 or 2 and 4, in a 4/4 time signature).

In the following example, you will listen to how in the first minute the bass movement is on 1 and 3 (plays in 2) but the left-hand piano plays the 2 and 4. At the minute 1:14 starts the B Section where the bass plays on all 4 beats and after that, they repeat again Section A with the bass on 1 and 3. But you should keep in mind that the pulsation is again on 2 and 4. After that, they will repeat the chorus all in 4 till the end, also on the trombone solo.

Matteo: What is the accent in music?

Giacomo: The accent, also called stress, is a momentary emphasis on a particular rhythmic or melodic detail. In metrically organized music, accents serve to articulate rhythmic groupings. This happens especially in music used in dancing, where the regular accentuation facilitates the patterning of steps. Usually, the heaviest accent falls on the first beat of the measure. The matter of fact, it is the accent that determines where the measure begins.

Matteo: These are some examples of the music we use to dance the foxtrot. The first is a more “classic style” and the other derives from modern popular music:

Is there any difference in terms of foxtrot music theory between the “big band swing” music and the modern one?

Giacomo: The first differences I noticed between traditional and the modern one are in the harmonic progression.

In other words, the modern one has pop melody and pop harmonic progression rearranged and played in “jazz” style. There are a lot of different music elements mashed up, that recall the second line style, the ragtime, and dixieland. The traditional ones are standard jazz songs, more complex in terms of arrangement, harmony, and structure. It also has articulated movement of the brass section in a perfect Big Band Style.

One of the most important things that I noticed is that the modern song is “played in 2” and doesn’t go in 4 so the bass plays on every beat of the measure.

Here is another example of the differences about the half bass and walking bass:

We can see how John Clayton plays in 2 (half bass) at min 0:42 when Clayton says “I get my bass and we went for a walk” and starts to play in 4 (walking bass) and you can feel the strongest 2 and 4 pulsation.

Matteo: As a musician, do you think we should dance in two different ways, placing the accent in different moments if we are dancing the classical swing or the modern one?

Giacomo: Honestly, I think I can not say what is best for a dancer to do. Nevertheless, in my experience as a musician in the ballrooms, I have always noticed that it is important to know a little about the basis of the dance and try to understand what the dancers need. At the same time, I think that even the dancers should try to get a little closer to the world of musicians and to the origins of the music they are dancing to.

I believe that “the end justifies the means.” For example, to facilitate reading of the scores for big bands, when I was at the Conservatory, the director said to visualize the groups of notes in blocks on one and three, but this does not mean that the strong pulsation is on the one and the three.

So, if you feel the need to “visualize” the one and three in order to count the steps or teach, I don’t think it is entirely wrong. Try to remember though that the natural pulsation of that kind of music is on the two and four, therefore it would be appropriate to emphasize the nature of that style.

I think any kind of music-related activity should pay attention to what the musicians are playing and the musicians should pay attention to the needs of those who are interacting.

Music, as we know, is a language just like dance is. Therefore, communication is essential and for good communication, it’s better to talk the same language.


Reference list:

  • Marco Di Battista, (2014) Improvvisazione jazz consapevole (volume 1) Jazz Convention


If you have more questions for Giacomo, you can follow him on:

  • Facebook
  • Instagram

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5 Lessons 2020 Taught Us



As horrible as this year must have been, we should be thankful for it has taught us plenty of lessons. The year 2020 forced us to reevaluate our plans and dreams. 

2020 showed us who our real friends are and who is willing to give up on us when we need them the most. This year a lot of partnerships have ended, and others have formed. Some have quit dancing, while others have started new & exciting projects.

I summed up what I think are the most important things that 2020 showed to us. 

1. We Love Competitions

As a competitive dancer, preparing and going to competitions is your main activity and this year showed us that we might take them for granted.

This year I saw how much all dancers, from beginners to dance legends, suffered that they couldn’t attend competitions such as the Blackpool Dance Festival, German Open, and many other competitions that hold a special spot in each dancer’s heart.

This year we missed all the fuss and excitement that surrounds a big event. We missed people that we see maybe just once a year at that certain comp and we certainly missed being on and off the dance floor.

2. How Addicted To Dancing We Really Are

Ok, at first, it was quite nice. Everyone thought, “Oh, I can finally have a well-deserved break now”. 

But we soon realized that we could not live without dancing. We all started dancing around the house, we reorganized our living rooms in mini dance studios, and we used our walls as partners. 

Some of us who gave up dancing a while ago know how difficult it is to stop. But for those who were in full ascension, I imagine this forced pause felt even worse. 

Nevertheless, dancers are not easily broken down. Many of you practiced in your homes and used this time to learn new things about dancing. Some of you listened to interviews or perfected specific dancing skills such as elasticity. 

3. Online Education Is Important

Because we are on this topic, we realized how crucial online teaching resources really are during this pandemic.

Many dancers couldn’t see their teachers, and this is how online classes came into play. Either if you prefer pre-recorded courses as we offer on Dancesportlife Academy, or live classes, you cannot deny that this is what kept dancers growing during 2020. 

4. How Attached To Our Dance Family We Really Are

The connection between partners is something very difficult to put into words. It is that type of fondness that is hard to explain. In 2020 we didn’t only miss dancing. We also missed what goes hand in hand with dancesport – our partners. The connection between the two partners is one of the most beautiful aspects of dancesport.

Besides our partners, we missed our teachers. There is nothing like a good lesson with our favorite teacher. We missed that type of lesson in which you get those “Aha!” moments when everything clicks. 

5. To Be More United

All in all, I think the most important lesson this year taught us that we need to be more united. 

Many dancers came together to create beautiful online projects this year. We’ve watched fascinating discussions between dancers that otherwise might have never seen together. 

I think we should always remember that the most important thing is never to lose our humanity & kindness. 

The post 5 Lessons 2020 Taught Us appeared first on Dancesport Life.

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11 Online Courses For Soft Skills In Ballroom & Latin



Technique is crucial if you want to be a good dancer. But what do you need to do in order to achieve that higher level? Well, that’s when soft skills subjects like partnering, communication, musicality and style choice come into play.

I put together a list of 11 courses you can find at Dancesportlife Academy that will help you be a more sophisticated dancer. 

A tip from me: because Santa Claus thinks we’ve been good this year & respected all the rules, we have all our courses on SALE.

1. Partnering Skills in Rumba by Espen Salberg

In his lecture at Dance Amore Roma 2019, Espen Salberg is discussing the sensitivity of lead & follow. Dialog and communication between the two bodies are essential in order to create togetherness.

Espen showcases in his lecture, assisted by Oxana Lebedew and Laura Zmajkovicova, two ways in which you can improve your leading actions:

  1. By knowing the order in which you need to communicate with your partner.
  1. By knowing the amount of energy/physicality you need to put into your leading actions.

Length: 35 minutes

Here is the link to the course

2. Finding Your Dancing Self by Oxana Lebedw

Learning how to express yourself through dancing is one of the most beautiful and challenging aspects of dancesport. It’s something that allows a dancer to touch other’s hearts and souls. That is done by discovering and expressing your own uniqueness.

In this course, you will explore the freedom to show yourself as a performer. You will find out how to relate your own self to your dancing self by learning to be aware and open all your senses.

Length: 45 minutes

Here is the link to the course

3. Mastering Of A Partnership by Oxana Lebedew

In a course that feels like a discussion with a wise psychologist, Oxana shares her pieces of advice on how to develop your partnership into something out of the ordinary.

She touches on subjects like how to communicate with your partner and how to connect. She offers examples on how to divide the duties in a partnership and how to choose a style for you, as a couple.

Length: 25 minutes

Here is the link to the course

4. Samba by Slavik Kryklyvyy

In his lecture from the Gladiators Dance Congress 2019, Slavik is touching many important aspects that create and give samba the characteristic of a “body dance”.

He is pointing out that nowadays, many dancers and teachers forgot what are the core principles of this dance or what are its origins. Thus, the character of samba has been lost.

Length: 31 minutes

Here is the link to the course

5. Movement In Rumba by Slavik Kryklyvyy

In this lecture, Slavik is focusing on body movements in rumba, while tackling subjects like freedom and fluidity.

Being the talent that he is, his lecture is truly inspiring if you want to develop your thinking in a more artistic way.

Length: 30 minutes

Here is the link to the course

6. Creating Your Own Dance Story by Klemen Prasnikar & Sasha Averkieva

Klemen Prasnikar & Sasha Averkieva, WDC World Latin Champions, take you into a self-expression journey by playing with one of the most fundamental principles of dancing: connection.

In the first chapter, they tackle the physical connection. Then they show you how to stay connected even if you are not touching your partner. Lastly, they show you how to play with these types of connections to create your own dance style, your own dance story.

Length: 1 hour 25 minutes

Here is the link to the course

7. Freedom Through Breathing by Paul Moldovan & Cristina Tatar

Paul Moldovan & Cristina Tatar are one of those dance couples that are simply meant for each other. They are currently semi-finalists in all the major events in WDSF Amateur Latin and former World Champions in WDSF Youth and Under 21.

The course is structured in three parts. In the first chapter, Paul & Cristina will show how deficient breathing can influence your mental state and affect your performance. In the second part, they explain how faulty breathing patterns can affect your body, especially your stamina. Lastly, Paul & Cristina shed light on how you can use breathing to play with your steps during your routine by creating a different dynamic.

The course is very unique and could be illuminating for many dancers out there, Latin or Ballroom!

Length: 34 minutes 

Here is the link to the course

8. Qualities Of A Long-Lasting Partnership by Paul Moldovan & Cristina Tatar 

Long-lasting partnerships are something we all strive for. They offer us a sense of security and reliability, which helps us truly focus 100% on the dancing.

But how to maintain a good partnership throughout the years?

Through their 18 years of experience together as a dance couple, Paul & Cristina realized what worked for them. Now, they are willing to share some of their key ingredients of such a beautiful relationship.

This course will leave you with the impression that you just discussed with your most responsible and thoughtful friends.

Tip: This course can be found as a BONUS if you decide to buy Paul & Cristina’s course – “Freedom Through Breathing”

Length: 11 minutes

Here is the link to the course

9. How To Make A Ballroom Dancing Hairstyle For Men by Madis Abel

This course is a step-by-step program designed for Ballroom and 10-dancers to give you all the tools needed to have a champion’s hairstyle.

You will find 20 lectures divided into 5 sections: Preparing your hair, Basic principles, Blow drying, Hair spraying, and Common mistakes. This isn’t fluffy theory stuff either. You’ll get real, ready-to-use tools that you can begin to implement immediately. 

Length: 2 hours

Here is the link to the course

10. The Details Make The Difference In Latin by Frederic Mosa

Frederic Mosa is one of the most sought after teachers and adjudicators in the WDSF Latin world, coaching top Latin couples.

In his lecture from Master Evolution Training Camp 2020, Frederic is showing you with the help of Andrea Silvestri & Marina Varadi the importance of details in our art.

Three of those details are: creating a signature move, musicality, and the connection between partners.

Length: 39 minutes

Here is the link to the course

11. How To Make The Interpretation Interesting, Using The Musical Structure by Pietro Braga

When you say musicality in Standard dances you automatically think of Pietro Braga – one of the best teachers to go to if you want to excel in this area.

In his lecture from Master Evolution Training Camp, Pietro teaches you how to interpret movement by understanding the musical structure.

Length: 28 minutes

Here is the link to the course

The post 11 Online Courses For Soft Skills In Ballroom & Latin appeared first on Dancesport Life.

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11 Best Online Courses On Ballroom & Latin Technique



We’ve put together some of Dancesportlife Academy’s best courses and premium camp lectures for Ballroom & Latin technique. 

We also have massive Black Friday & Cyber Monday promotions at the moment, so if you decide to buy some of the courses, now is the time! 

1. Fundamentals Of Ballroom by Mirko & Edita Gozzoli

One of our best-selling courses is, by far, the greatest choice if you want to learn the core principles of Ballroom technique such as posture, hold, centres, footwork & body action. Furthermore, you get the chance to discover four novel choreographies and how to apply the theory to them.

Mirko & Edita Gozzoli barely need any introduction. They are one of the most renowned names in ballroom dancing. They have been both World Champions and European Champions.

Length: 4 hours 20 minutes

Link to the course

2. Fundamentals Of Quickstep by Hazel Newberry

Hazel Newberry MBE is one of the United Kingdom’s leading ballroom ladies and dance teachers. She was three times undefeated World Professional Ballroom champion. 

In her lecture at the Gladiators Dance Congress, she focused her attention on lead & follow by looking at body positioning and core principles such as contra body movement.

Length: 29 minutes

Link to the lecture

3. Paso Doble – Structure And Its 5 Elements by Alan Fletcher

When you say “Alan Fletcher” you automatically say “true legend of the Latin American dancing world”. One of the most sought after teachers, preparing couples to win the highest titles, reveals the five key aspects of Paso Doble.  

Learn from Alan some secrets on music, posture, shaping, framing, and resistance. Also, you will get a cameo from one of the most loved lady dancers. I’ll let you guess who that is!

Length: 26 minutes

Link to the lecture

4. Partnering Skills In Tango By Steve Powell

A true gentleman of the ballroom dancing world, Steve Powell is a multiple-time European Professional Ballroom finalist and a World Professional Ballroom Semi-finalist.

In his lecture from Gladiators Dance Congress, we can learn about partnering applied strictly in Tango, as it is quite different than the other Ballroom dances. Steve is looking mainly at how the body and foot positioning helps in mastering the partnering skills. 

Length: 31 minutes

Link to the lecture

5. Paso Shaping by Graham Oswick

Charming and charismatic, with a great competitive career behind him, Graham Oswick uses his knowledge to teach Ballroom and Latin American competitors valuable principles.

He showcases this charm and love for core principles of Latin-American dancing in his lecture from Gladiators Dance Congress. Graham explains how to create that distinct Paso shaping through mastering feet pressure and leg action.

Length: 29 minutes

Link to the lecture

6. Fundamentals Of Movement In Latin by Andrea Silvestri & Martina Varadi

Andrea Silvestri & Martina Varadi are one of the top WDSF Amateur Latin couples. They are finalists in all the major events such as Grand Slams and WDSF World & European Championships. 

For their Dancesportlife Academy course, they’ve put together five chapters of theory and choreography designed to help you learn the basic principles of bodyweight, movement, and connection. In the choreography part of the course, Andrea & Martina will show you four basic routines and four more advanced routines by applying all the principles discussed in the theoretical section.

Length: 2 hours 40 minutes

Link to the course

7. Use Of Different Timing In Cha-Cha-Cha By Goran Nordin

Goran is a former UK Closed Amateur Latin Champion, British National Professional Latin Champion, and a finalist in major competitions from the WDC world. 

He is known for his inclination towards choreography, timing, and musicality. And that is exactly what he discusses in his lecture from the Gladiators Dance Congress. Goran, with amazing enthusiasm, showcases how we can play with different timing in Cha-Cha-Cha.

Length: 28 minutes

Link to the lecture

8. Specific Positions That Give Character To Your Dance by Mirko Gozzoli

Mirko Gozzoli has a special place on this list as he appears not one time but three times! 

In this lecture from Gladiators Dance Congress, Mirko shows you how to dance a Tango that respects its character by creating different positions. 

Length: 32 minutes

Link to the lecture

9. Viennese Waltz And Its Technical Actions By Mirko Gozzoli

The third lecture held by Mirko is the one from Master Evolution Training Camp. 

As should expect from each of Mirko’s lecture, you will receive great details and discover hidden aspects of a dance. In this lecture, he teaches you the correct foot alignment & placement in Viennese Waltz and the amount of turn in the body position.

Length: 50 minutes

Link to the lecture

10. Bodyweight By Simona Fancello

Simona Fancello is a great ballroom instructor. Her career was filled with great results together with Fabio Selmi. She has been a finalist in all the major competitions, such as World & European Championships.

In this lecture, she focuses on the importance of bodyweight and how to use it in the fundamental basic steps of quickstep.

Length: 27 minutes

Link to the lecture

11. Slow Waltz And The 3 Important Actions: Swing, Sway, Shape By Irina Solomatina

Irina Solomatina is one of the most sought after teachers. Together with Alexander Melnikov, she was 12 times Russian Champions.

In her lecture from Master Evolution Training Camp, Irina explains thoroughly how the swing, sway, and shape in Slow Waltz are crucial for good leading in Slow Waltz

Length: 39 minutes

Link to the lecture


Next, we’ll make a list of courses and camp lectures that focus on softer skills such as musicality, artistry, or communication.

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