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Waltz

Waltz

George Marks / Getty Images
The romantic Waltz is one of the most popular ballroom dances of all time. Considered by some as the "mother of present day dances" and the "backbone dance" of the ballroom, the Waltz is the basis for many dances. Developed in Germany, the Waltz is popular all over the world. A truly romantic dance, the Waltz is comprised of soft, round, flowing movements.

Waltz Characteristics

The Waltz is a smooth dance that travels around the line of dance. Characterized by its "rise and fall" action, the Waltz includes a step, slide, and step in 3/4 time. Dancers should move their shoulders smoothly, parallel with the floor instead of up and down. Dancers must strive to lengthen each step. On the first beat of the music, a step is taken forward on the heel, then onto the ball of the foot with a gradual rise to the toes, continuing on to the second and third beats of the music. At the end of the third beat, the heel is lowered to the floor to the starting position.

Waltz History

Based on basic techniques originating during the 1920s, the Waltz has continued to develop throughout the 20th century. The Waltz was born as an Austro-German folk dance known as the Landler, which was characterized by the rotating movements of partners dancing together. The music of Johann Strauss helped to popularize the Waltz.

Waltz Action

Unique to the Waltz are the techniques of "rise and fall" and "body sway." Rise and fall is the elevating and lowering that a dancer feels as he or she moves onto the toes, then relaxes through the knee and ankle, ending on a flat foot. This stylish action gives couples an up-and-down appearance as they glide effortlessly around the floor. Body sway gives couples a pendulum-like look, swinging and swaying their upper bodies in the direction they are moving. These actions should be smooth and confident, making the Waltz a simple, yet elegant and beautiful dance.

Waltz Distinctive Steps

The basic movement of the Waltz is a three-step sequence consisting of a step forward or backward, a step to the side, and a step closing the feet together. The timing of the steps are called as "Quick, Quick, Quick" or "1,2,3." The following steps are distinctive to the Waltz:
  • Hover Corte
  • Whisk
  • Natural Spin Turn
  • Hover Telemark
  • Open Telemark Group
  • Hairpin
  • Oversway
  • Swing

Waltz Rhythm and Music

Waltz music is written in 3/4 time, counted as "1,2,3 - 1,2,3." The first beat of each measure is accented, corresponding to the extended, highly-stretched step that is taken on the first count. With its distinctive rhythm pattern, the Waltz is easy to recognize and simple to learn.
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