The waltz is a ballroom
Ballroom dance
Ballroom dance refers to a set of partner dances, which are enjoyed both socially and competitively around the world. Because of its performance and entertainment aspects, ballroom dance is also widely enjoyed on stage, film, and television....

 and folk
Folk dance
The term folk dance describes dances that share some or all of the following attributes:*They are dances performed at social functions by people with little or no professional training, often to traditional music or music based on traditional music....

Dance is an art form that generally refers to movement of the body, usually rhythmic and to music, used as a form of expression, social interaction or presented in a spiritual or performance setting....

 in time
Time signature
The time signature is a notational convention used in Western musical notation to specify how many beats are in each measure and which note value constitutes one beat....

, performed primarily in closed position
Closed position
In partner dancing, closed position is a category of positions in which partners hold each other while facing at least approximately toward each other....



There are several references to a sliding or gliding dance,- a waltz, from the 16th century including the representations of the printer H.S. Beheim. The French philosopher Montaigne wrote of a dance he saw in 1580 in Augsburg
Augsburg is a city in the south-west of Bavaria, Germany. It is a university town and home of the Regierungsbezirk Schwaben and the Bezirk Schwaben. Augsburg is an urban district and home to the institutions of the Landkreis Augsburg. It is, as of 2008, the third-largest city in Bavaria with a...

, where the dancers held each other so closely that their faces touched. Kunz Haas, of approximately the same period wrote that, "Now they are dancing the godless, Weller or Spinner." "The vigorous peasant dancer, following an instinctive knowledge of the weight of fall, utilizes his surplus energy to press all his strength into the proper beat of the measure, thus intensifying his personal enjoyment in dancing". The wide, wild steps of the country people became shorter and more elegant when introduced to higher society. Hans Sachs wrote of the dance in his 1568 Eygentliche Beschreibung aller Stände(1568).

At the Austrian Court in Vienna in the late 17th century (1698) ladies were conducted around the room to the tune of a 2 beat measure, which then became the 3/4 of the Nach Tanz (After Dance), upon which couples got into the position for the Weller and waltzed around the room with gliding steps as in an engraving of the Wirtschaft (Inn Festival) given for Peter the Great.

The peasants of Bavaria, Tyrol, and Styria began dancing a dance called Walzer, a dance for couples, around 1750. The Ländler
The ländler is a folk dance in 3/4 time which was popular in Austria, south Germany and German Switzerland at the end of the 18th century.It is a dance for couples which strongly features hopping and stamping...

, also known as the Schleifer, a country dance in 3/4 time, was popular in Bohemia, Austria, and Bavaria, and spread from the countryside to the suburbs of the city. While the eighteenth century upper classes continued to dance the minuet
A minuet, also spelled menuet, is a social dance of French origin for two people, usually in 3/4 time. The word was adapted from Italian minuetto and French menuet, and may have been from French menu meaning slender, small, referring to the very small steps, or from the early 17th-century popular...

, bored noblemen slipped away to the balls of their servants.

In the 1771 German novel Geschichte des Fräuleins von Sternheim by Sophie von La Roche
Sophie von La Roche
Maria Sophie von La Roche was a German novelist. She was born in Kaufbeuren and died in Offenbach am Main.-Biography:...

, a high-minded character complains about the newly introduced waltz among aristocrats thus: "But when he put his arm around her, pressed her to his breast, cavorted with her in the shameless, indecent whirling-dance of the Germans and engaged in a familiarity that broke all the bounds of good breeding—then my silent misery turned into burning rage."

Describing life in Vienna (dated at either 1776 or 1786), Don Curzio wrote, " The people were dancing mad [...] The ladies of Vienna are particularly celebrated for their grace and movements of waltzing of which they never tire." There is a waltz in the second act finale of the opera "Una Cosa Rara" written by Martin y Soler in 1786. Soler's waltz was marked Andante con moto, or "at a walking pace with motion", but the flow of the dance was sped-up in Vienna leading to the Geschwindwalzer, and the Galloppwalzer.

In the transition from country to town, the hopping of the Ländler, a dance known as Langaus, became a sliding step, and gliding rotation replaced stamping rotation.

In the 19th century the word primarily indicated that the dance was a turning one; one would "waltz" in the polka
The polka is a Central European dance and also a genre of dance music familiar throughout Europe and the Americas. It originated in the middle of the 19th century in Bohemia...

 to indicate rotating rather than going straight forward without turning.

The Viennese custom is to slightly anticipate the second beat, which conveys a faster, lighter rhythm, and also breaks of the phrase. The younger Strauss would sometimes break up the one-two-three of the melody with a one-two pattern in the accompaniment along with other rhythms, maintaining the 3/4 time while causing the dancers to dance a two-step waltz. The metronome speed for a full bar varies between 60 and 70, with the waltzes of the first Strauss often played faster than those of his sons.

Shocking many when it was first introduced, the waltz became fashionable in Vienna
Vienna is the capital and largest city of the Republic of Austria and one of the nine states of Austria. Vienna is Austria's primary city, with a population of about 1.723 million , and is by far the largest city in Austria, as well as its cultural, economic, and political centre...

 around the 1780s, spreading to many other countries in the years to follow. It became fashionable in Britain
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

 during the Regency period, though the entry in the Oxford English Dictionary shows that it was considered "riotous and indecent" as late as 1825. The waltz, and especially its closed position, became the example for the creation of many other ballroom dances. Subsequently, new types of waltz have developed, including many folk and several ballroom dances.


In the 19th and early 20th century, numerous different waltz forms existed, including versions performed in 2/4 or 6/8 (sauteuse), and 5/4 time (5/4 waltz, half and half)

In the 1910s, a form called the "Hesitation Waltz" was introduced by Vernon and Irene Castle
Vernon and Irene Castle
Vernon and Irene Castle were a husband-and-wife team of ballroom dancers of the early 20th century. They are credited with invigorating the popularity of modern dancing. Vernon Castle was born William Vernon Blyth in Norwich, Norfolk, England...

. It incorporated Hesitations and was danced to fast music. A hesitation is basically a halt on the standing foot during the full waltz measure, with the moving foot suspended in the air or slowly dragged. Similar figures (Hesitation Change, Drag Hesitation, and Cross Hesitation) are incorporated in the International Standard Waltz Syllabus.

The Country Western Waltz is mostly progressive, moving counter clock wise around the dance floor. Both the posture and frame are relaxed, with posture bordering on a slouch. The exaggerated hand and arm gestures of some ballroom styles are not part of this style. Couples may frequently dance in the promenade position
Promenade position
The promenade position is a dance position in ballroom and other dances. It is described differently in various dance categories.-Connection:...

, depending on local preferences. Within Country Western waltz there are the Spanish Waltz and the more modern (for the late 1930s- early 1950s) Pursuit Waltz. At one time it was considered ill treatment for a man to make the woman walk backwards in some locations.

In California the waltz was banned by Mission fathers until after 1834 because of the "closed" dance position. Thereafter a Spanish Waltz was danced. This Spanish Waltz was a combination of dancing around the room in closed position, and a "formation" dance of two couples facing each other and performing a sequence of steps. "Valse a Trois Temps" was the "earliest" waltz step, and the Rye Waltz was favored as a couple dance.
  • In contemporary ballroom dance
    Ballroom dance
    Ballroom dance refers to a set of partner dances, which are enjoyed both socially and competitively around the world. Because of its performance and entertainment aspects, ballroom dance is also widely enjoyed on stage, film, and television....

    , the fast versions of the waltz are called Viennese Waltz
    Viennese Waltz
    Viennese Waltz is the genre of a ballroom dance. At least three different meanings are recognized. In the historically first sense, the name may refer to several versions of the waltz, including the earliest waltzes done in ballroom dancing, danced to the music of Viennese Waltz.What is now called...

  • International Standard Waltz
    Waltz (International Standard)
    Waltz is one of the five dances in the Standard category of the International Style ballroom dances. It was previously referred to as Slow Waltz or English Waltz....

     has only closed figures; that is, the couple never breaks the embrace.
  • The American Style Waltz, in contrast to the International Standard Waltz, involves breaking contact almost entirely in some figures. For example, the Syncopated Side-by-Side with Spin includes a free spin for both partners. Open rolls are another good example of an open dance figure, in which the follower alternates between the lead's left and right sides, with the lead's left or right arm (alone) providing the lead. Waltzes were the staple of many American musicals and films, including "Waltz in Swing Time" sung by Fred Astaire
    Fred Astaire
    Fred Astaire was an American film and Broadway stage dancer, choreographer, singer and actor. His stage and subsequent film career spanned a total of 76 years, during which he made 31 musical films. He was named the fifth Greatest Male Star of All Time by the American Film Institute...

  • The Cross Step Waltz is a newer style of waltz where the first step is a cross-step into the line of direction. This was popularized in classes at Stanford University
    Stanford University
    The Leland Stanford Junior University, commonly referred to as Stanford University or Stanford, is a private research university on an campus located near Palo Alto, California. It is situated in the northwestern Santa Clara Valley on the San Francisco Peninsula, approximately northwest of San...

     and allows for a much richer assortment of variations.
  • The Scandinavia
    Scandinavia is a cultural, historical and ethno-linguistic region in northern Europe that includes the three kingdoms of Denmark, Norway and Sweden, characterized by their common ethno-cultural heritage and language. Modern Norway and Sweden proper are situated on the Scandinavian Peninsula,...

    n Waltz. Performed as a part of Scandinavian folk dance, this can be fast or slow, but the dancers are always rotating.
  • The Peruvian Waltz
    Vals (Peruvian)
    The Creole Waltz , or Peruvian Waltz , is an adaptation of the European Waltz brought to the Americas during colonial times by Spain. In the Viceroyalty of Peru, the Waltz was slowly changed to the likings of the Criollo people...

     (Called and recognized in Peru as vals criollo).
  • The Curaçao
    Curaçao is an island in the southern Caribbean Sea, off the Venezuelan coast. The Country of Curaçao , which includes the main island plus the small, uninhabited island of Klein Curaçao , is a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands...

    n waltz. The first composer to write Curaçaon waltzes was Jan Gerard Palm
    Jan Gerard Palm
    Jan Gerard Palm was a 19th century composer. Palm is often referred to as the "father of Curaçao's classical music".-Biography:...

     (1831–1906). Like the Strauss family in Austria, the Palm family composed numerous popular Curaçaon waltzes. Well known composers of Curaçaon waltzes of the Palm family are Jan Gerard Palm
    Jan Gerard Palm
    Jan Gerard Palm was a 19th century composer. Palm is often referred to as the "father of Curaçao's classical music".-Biography:...

      (1831–1906), Jacobo Palm
    Jacobo Palm
    -Biography:Jacobo José Maria Palm is the grandson of Jan Gerard Palm who is often referred to as the "father of Curaçao classical music". At the age of seven Jacobo Palm started to take lessons in music from his grandfather. Jacobo played several musical instruments such as piano, organ, violin,...

     (1887–1982), Rudolph Palm
    Rudolph Palm
    Rudolph Palm is a Curaçao born composer.- Biography :Rudolph Theodorus Palm is the grandson of Jan Gerard Palm who is often referred to as the "father of Curaçao classical music"...

     (1880–1950), John Palm
    John Palm
    -Biography:Johan Antoine Palm -- better known as John Palm -- was a grandson of Jan Gerard Palm , who is often referred to as the "father of Curaçao classical music". Like his cousin Jacobo Palm and his brother Rudolph Palm, John started at music lessons from his grandfather at a young age.Palm...

     (1885–1925), Albert Palm (1903–1957), Edgar Palm (1905–1998) and Robert Rojer (1939). Besides the Palm family, Curaçao born composers such as Joseph Sickman Corsen, Chris Ulder, Jacobo Conrad and Wim Statius Muller are well known for their typical Curaçao waltzes.
  • The Mexican Waltz (vals mexicano) follows the same basic rhythmic pattern as the standard waltz, but the melodies reflect a strong Spanish influence. Mexico's Juventino Rosas
    Juventino Rosas
    José Juventino Policarpo Rosas Cadenas was a Mexican composer and violinist.-Life and career:Rosas was born in Santa Cruz de Galeana, Guanajuato, now renamed Santa Cruz de Juventino Rosas. Rosas began his musical career as a street musician and playing with dance music bands in Mexico City...

     wrote "Sobre las Olas
    Sobre las Olas
    The waltz "Sobre las Olas" is the best known work of Mexican composer Juventino Rosas . It "remains one of the most famous Latin American pieces worldwide," according to the "Latin America" article in The Oxford Companion to Music.It was first published by Rosas in 1888...

    " or "Over the Waves", commonly known in the U.S. as a circus song played during a trapeze show.
  • The Cajun Waltz is danced progressively around the floor, and is characterized by the subtle swaying of the hips and step very close to ordinary walking. It is danced entirely in the closed position.
  • Tango vals
    Vals (dance)
    Vals is an Argentine tango style, the tango version of waltz. Unlike Argentine Tango and Milonga, there are no stopping figures. The vals is danced in a continuous movement. Not to be confused with the Peruvian Waltz, most widely known as Vals criollo....

     allows the dancers to dance one, two, three, or no steps to any three beats of waltz music, and to vary the number of steps per bar throughout the song.
  • The Venezuelan waltz
    Venezuelan waltz
    - History :Between the hall dances that arrived to Venezuela during the 19th century, waltz has been the one of greater root and dispersion. Waltz consists of a musical expression derived from an Austrian popular dance, the ländler...

  • The Contra Waltz (Freeform Waltz), included in most contra dance
    Contra dance
    Contra dance refers to several partnered folk dance styles in which couples dance in two facing lines...

     evenings, uses both open and closed positions, and incorporates moves from other dances such as swing
    Swing (dance)
    "Swing dance" is a group of dances that developed with the swing style of jazz music in the 1920s-1950s, although the earliest of these dances predate swing jazz music. The best known of these dances is the Lindy Hop, a popular partner dance that originated in Harlem and is still danced today...

    , modern jive
    Modern Jive
    Modern Jive is a dance style derived from Swing, Lindy Hop, Rock and Roll, Salsa and others, the main innovation being to simplify the footwork - by removing syncopation such as chasse. The term French Jive is occasionally used instead, reflecting the origins of the style...

     and salsa
    Salsa (dance)
    Salsa is a syncretic dance form with origins in Cuba as the meeting point of Spanish and African cultures.Salsa is normally a partner dance, although there are recognized solo forms such as solo dancing "suelta" and "Rueda de Casino" where multiple couples exchange partners in a circle...

    . Basically the dancers progress around the dance floor with a waltz step, but with no constraints on what moves they can use.
  • The Valse Musette
    Bal-musette is a style of French music and dance that first became popular in Paris in the 1880s.Auvergnats settled in large numbers in the 5th, 11th, and 12th districts of Paris during the 19th century, opening cafés and bars where patrons danced the bourrée to the accompaniment of musette de...

    , a form of waltz popular in France starting in the late 19th century

See also

  • Austrian folk dancing
  • Waltz (music)
    Waltz (music)
    A waltz, or valse from the French term, is a piece of music in triple meter, most often written in time signature but sometimes in 3/8 or 3/2...

  • Schuhplattler
    The Schuhplattler is a traditional Austro-Bavarian folk dance evolved from the Ländler.-Origins:The origins of this social dance are found in an early courtship display...

  • Ländler
    The ländler is a folk dance in 3/4 time which was popular in Austria, south Germany and German Switzerland at the end of the 18th century.It is a dance for couples which strongly features hopping and stamping...

  • Zwiefacher
    The Zwiefacher is a south German folk dance with a quick tempo and changing beat patterns.- Location :The Zwiefacher is danced primarily in Bavaria, especially Lower Bavaria, Hallertau and Upper Palatinate; it is also known in the Black Forest, Austria, Alsace, the Czech Republic and Sudetenland.-...

  • Mazurka
    The mazurka is a Polish folk dance in triple meter, usually at a lively tempo, and with accent on the third or second beat.-History:The folk origins of the mazurek are two other Polish musical forms—the slow machine...

  • Polska (dance)
    Polska (dance)
    The polska is a family of music and dance forms shared by the Nordic countries: called polsk in Denmark, polska in Sweden and Finland and by several names in Norway in different regions and/or for different variants - including pols, rundom, springleik, and springar...

  • Fandango
    Fandango is a lively couple's dance, usually in triple metre, traditionally accompanied by guitars and castanets or hand-clapping . Fandango can both be sung and danced. Sung fandango is usually bipartite: it has an instrumental introduction followed by "variaciones"...

  • Sevillanas
    Sevillanas are a type of folk music, sung and written in Seville in Spain. Historically, they are a derivative of Castilian folk music . They have a relatively limited musical pattern, but rich lyrics, based on country side life, virgins, towns, neighborhoods, pilgrimage, and love themes...

  • Chamarrita
    Chamarrita can refer to two different types of music and dance, one from the Azores in Portugal and one from the Rio de la Plata littoral region in northern Argentina, Uruguay, and southern Brazil.-Azorean Chamarrita:...

  • Polonaise
    The polonaise is a slow dance of Polish origin, in 3/4 time. Its name is French for "Polish."The polonaise had a rhythm quite close to that of the Swedish semiquaver or sixteenth-note polska, and the two dances have a common origin....

  • Bourrée
    The bourrée is a dance of French origin common in Auvergne and Biscay in Spain in the 17th century. It is danced in quick double time, somewhat resembling the gavotte. The main difference between the two is the anacrusis, or upbeat; a bourrée starts on the last beat of a bar, creating a...

  • Redowa
    A redowa is dance of Czech origin with turning, leaping waltz steps that was most popular in Victorian era European ballrooms.-History:Thomas Hillgrove states that the redowa was introduced to London ballrooms in 1846...

  • Usul (music)

External links

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