Learn How to Waltz

Why learn how to waltz? The waltz is one of the most popular dance genres in the world. There are different styles of waltz dancing and many different events, venues and reasons to think about learning how to dance the waltz.  We include our favorite online waltz dance lessons in this article.

How to do the waltz box step

Kristina Reese & Aaron Mitchum

A few reasons to learn how to waltz dance!

The waltz dance genre can be found in most countries worldwide. Also, there are many different categories of dancing that include a type of waltz. For instance, there is a waltz in country western, American ballroom, International ballroom, Cajun waltz, French waltz, Viennese waltz and other forms of waltz dancing. Also, the waltz is probably the most popular choice the bride and groom’s first dance at weddings.

Waltz History

Waltz has a long history dating back to spinning dances of the 6th century according to European literary sources.  However, the style that most resembles modern waltz developed in the mid-1800’s in Vienna, Austria. Eventually, it spread to other parts of Europe and the America’s and evolved into other forms of waltz dancing.

Waltz Dance Characteristics

In every style, the waltz is a smooth dance that progresses around the dance floor counter clockwise in line of dance (LOD).  It is characterized by a rise and fall action and shares technique elements with the other ballroom dance styles like swing and sway, contra body movement, turns and parallel footwork.

Hesitation waltz was a form of waltz introduced by the Castle’s (Vernon and Irene) in the early twentieth century. Essentially, it is a weighted step on the 1st of three beats and a hesitation or hold on the weaker 2nd and 3rd beats of music.

Waltz Balance & Box Pattern

Toni Redpath & Michael Meade

American style waltz

and the country western waltz use a considerable amount of open position movements. The waltz uses rise and fall technique to give it a lilting action. The dancer flexes into the one count preparing to rise moving from heel to ball of the foot then steps onto the ball continuing to rise on count 2 reaching the highest part of the rise on count three and lowering to a neutral position at the end of three.

Ohio Star Ball 2015 – American Smooth Waltz Show Dance 2

Kyle & Allie Spinder

Waltz Rhythms

Waltzes use mostly two rhythms, step on every beat or step on the first beat of three and hold for the next two beats called hesitation waltz. However, waltz dancers do use syncopations for some patterns where they split the beats with timings like 1&23. The waltz is unique in that it is a smooth dance composed of three beat rhythms.

How to Waltz – Underarm Turn

Kristina Reese & Aaron Mitchum

Waltz Patterns

Every style of waltz includes left and right turning box steps, progressive steps and pivots plus some styles include underarm turns and other patterns.  Box steps can turn up to a 1/2 turn either left or right, sometimes called reverse and natural turns, respectively. In addition, a weaving action is used to progress around the floor where dancers head toward the wall or center of the floor.

American Bronze Waltz Routine DVIDA

Michael Mead & Toni Redpath

Waltz Dance Positions

Waltz dance positions include closed, open, two hand, cross hand, promenade, outside partner, parallel, shadow and other dance positions.

Viennese Waltz

The Viennese waltz is the original waltz and is considerably faster than the slow waltz. It originated in Vienna, Austria in the mid-nineteenth century along with Strauss waltz music.

How to waltz – Viennese waltz

American Smooth Viennese waltz progressive

Toni Redpath & Michael Meade

International Waltz

There are five International style ballroom (standard)  dance genres including quickstep, foxtrot, tango, Viennese waltz and waltz.  The waltz is also called the slow waltz and the English waltz. The International style waltz is popular at dancesport competitions worldwide. Also, this form of waltz is the preferred style in Europe, Japan and other countries outside of the United States. Alternatively, the U.S. has both American and International style waltz. However, the International is almost exclusively used in dancesport and competitive dancing while the American style is used socially as well as in competition.

The International style of waltz maintains contact throughout the dance and consists of only closed position patterns, whereas other styles use both open and closed movements.

Patterns include right and left turning boxes referred to as natural and reverse turns respectively, whisks, pivots, weaves, telemarks, spin turns, fallaways, hovers, chasses and other patterns.

International Waltz Performance @WSSDF 2010

Victor Fung & Anastasia Muravyeva

International Waltz Performance Final Solo 2015

Victor Fung & Anastasia Murayeva

Country Western Waltz

The country western waltz is a popular dance genre in county dance clubs and country western competitions. Moreover, the country waltz is similar to the American style waltz. Also, the Cajun waltz uses similar movements. Generally, the country waltz moves in a linear progressive style and uses turns, wraps and spins like the country two step.

How to Waltz – Country Western Style

Kurt Sensor

Cajun Waltz

How to Waltz – Cajun Style

Cal & Lou Courville

Other forms of waltz

Other forms of waltz include an Irish waltz, Scandinavian, Peruvian, Mexican, Cajun, Cuban, Venezuelan, Valse Musette, cross-step waltz, Alsace, Estonian and other regional styles of waltz dancing.

Waltz Tempi

Waltz music is unique due to its 3/4 meter.  According to the National Dance Council of America (NDCA) waltz music is 84-90 beats per minute (BPM’s) for International style waltz and 90-96 beats per minute for American style waltz. In addition, Viennese waltz tempo is 162-174 beats per minute.

Waltz Music

There is a large variety of waltz music due to the many different styles of waltz. For instance, there is country western waltz music, Viennese waltz music plus International and American style waltz songs. Waltz music is composed in 3/4 timing with three beats per measure. It consists of a strong accented  first beat followed by two weaker beats.

How to waltz footwork

Resources

2017-09-12T21:38:10+00:00 By |Categories: Dance|Tags: , , |

About the Author:

Currently, Pattie produces article and video blogs for her world dance website, DanceTime.com and blogs for her new writing resource website at PattieWells.com. She is also working on completing a linked stories novel and translating a book of Italian poetry by Eugenio Montale. Pattie writes web content for a limited number of clients and still teaches a few private dance lessons exclusively in San Diego, California where she currently resides.

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