is a ballroom
and folk dance
, performed primarily in closed position
The peasants of Bavaria, Tyrol, and Styria began dancing a dance called Walzer, a dance for couples, around 1750. The Ländler
, 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
, bored noblemen slipped away to the balls of their servants.
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 Solar in 1786. Solar's waltz was marked Andante con moto, or "at a walking pace with motion”, but the character of the dance was speeded up in Vienna leading to the Geschwindwalzer, and the Galloppwalzer.
In the transition from country to town, the hopping of the Ländler, a the 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 to indicate rotating rather than going straight forward without turning.
The Vienese 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 around the 1780s, spreading to many other countries in the years to follow. 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.
Styles of waltz
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. 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
- In contemporary ballroom dance, the fast versions of the waltz are called Viennese Waltz.
- International Standard Waltz has only closed figures; that is, the couple never leaves closed position.
- 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.
- 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 and allows for a much richer assortment of variations.
- The Peruvian Waltz (Called and recognized in Peru as vals criollo).
- The Mexican Waltz (vals mexicano) follows the same basic rhythmic pattern as the standard waltz, but the melodies reflect a strong Spanish influence.
- Tango vals allows the dancers to dance one, two, three, or no steps to any four beats of waltz music, and to vary the number of steps per bar throughout the song.
- The Curacao waltz. The first composer to write Curacao waltzes was Jan Gerard Palm (1831-1906). Like the Strauss family in Austria, the Palm family composed numerous of popular Curacao waltzes. Well known composers of Curacao waltzes of the Palm family are Jan Gerard Palm (1831-1906), Jacobo Palm (1887-1982), Rudolph Palm (1880-1950), John Palm (1885-1925), Albert Palm (1903-1957), Edgar Palm (1905-1998) and Robert Rojer (1939). Besides the Palm family, Curacao born composers such as Joseph Sickman Corsen, Chris Ulder, Jacobo Conrad and Wim Statius Muller are well known for their typical Curacao waltzes.
- The Venezuelan waltz
- The Country Western Waltz is 99% 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, depending on local preferences.