All You Need To Know About the Waltz
Considered graceful and elegant today, when the Waltz first emerged among the peasants it was considered raucous and racy by the upper classes. Looking back at its history, we see how this beautiful dance has evolved over the years.
Where in the world
References to a gliding or sliding dance date back to the 16th century, but it wasn’t until the Bavarian peasants started dancing the Waltz during the 18th century that it gained popularity. The name is derived from the German “walzen”, which means to roll, and the dance is based on a never-ending series of turns.
Previously accustomed to group dances, the stiff upper classes and conservative Brits were reluctant to accept this scandalous style due to its intimate embrace between 2 people. Despite being frowned upon, the dance gained credibility and became fashionable in Paris after the Napoleonic Wars. Even though it was still being described as “riotous and indecent” as late as 1825, the Waltz went on to become a favourite of Queen Victoria.
What’s in a Waltz
The romantic floating motion of the Waltz consists of a steady three-step move to a one-two-three beat: forward or back, side and close. Once you have the rhythm, you can add the turns using the same steps, its simplicity makes it an easy dance to learn. Maintaining the correct hold, and mastering both the rise and fall and the swing and sway without gapping, is enough of a challenge to keep you on your toes for a long time. Having perfected the basics, you will find plenty of complexities to keep it interesting, or you can try a variation such as the high-speed whirling of the beautiful Viennese Waltz.
It’s all in the hold
The Waltz is defined by its closed hold where the man and woman face each other, slightly offset, pressing their right-hand sides together. The man wraps his arm around his partner and the woman leans back to create some distance between the two heads. This strict posture will help you build a strong core, as well as challenging your sense of balance and control in the spins.
The lilting music used for a Waltz has a steady beat in 3/4 time, with a strong first beat, and is typically relatively slow allowing the grace of the style to flow freely. Classical music is particularly suitable, something like Tchaikovsky’s The Sleeping Beauty, while old school tunes such as Moon River and What a Wonderful World or modern melodies like Elton John’s Can You Feel The Love Tonight are equally good.
If you’re new to dancing, this simple yet romantic classic is perfect for beginners, and you don’t even need a partner – just come along to one of our classes to try it out for free yourself. We’re sure you’ll fall in love with this elegant dance and will be back for more.