On Waltz

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Did you hear the 1-2-3 pattern in the beat?

The waltz is a fun, elegant dance, but the truth be known, it is not easy

Waltz music is in 3/4 time (three beats per measure), whereas most dances are in 4/4 time

Waltz music should provide an easy to hear 1-2-3, 1-2-3 pattern, with the first beat heavier (more pronounced than the others)

In many steps, dancers elongate the second beat

Today, waltz is associated with flowing gowns, tails, and sophistication, but its roots are as a dance of 16th century peasants in eastern Europe

Here’s a chance to learn the basic step

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The word waltz is from the old German word walzen, meaning to roll, to turn, or to glide

Waltz became fashionable in Vienna in the 1780s

As the dance spread across Europe, religious leaders vehemently opposed the dance, thus proclaimed it as vulgar and sinful

Acceptance in England was even slower, but opposition waned because Queen Victoria was a good dancer and enjoyed waltz

Waltz received a big boost when Austrian composer Johann Strauss wrote numerous waltzes

Waltz first came to America in the early 1800s, yet it also received religious opposition – but to no avail as society accepted waltz by the 1850s

Here’s one of our favorite waltz songs, Come Away With Me by Norah Jones with Jonathan and Anna on DWTS (listen for the 1-2-3 beat)

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In dancehall settings, waltz moves counter-clockwise around the floor with a rise on the second beat

Waltz looks best with long, controlled strides to move the floor

Social dancing is not choreographed – it’s lead and follow … yep, the male leads and the female follows …. Ladies, would any of you have a problem with that?

Today there are two prominent styles: International Standard Waltz and American Style Waltz

Major difference is that in international style, the dancers always stay in closed position (in hold), while American style breaks hold for spins, turns, and other steps (This was very evident to me on my trip to Italy early this year)

Viennese waltz (shown later) is also in 3/4 time, but at a much faster tempo with a lot of turning (thus I don’t do Viennese because of motion sickness)

Other styles include Scandinavian, Peruvian, Mexican, Cajun, Tango vals, Venezuelan, Contra/Freeform, Valse Musette, and Cross-Step

The next set of videos are to some of my favorite waltz music – Enjoy!

Still Me (American style)

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Theme from Cider House Rules (International style)

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She Dances by Josh Grobin with Tony and Julianne on DWTS

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Nocturne by Secret Garden

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Here’s a beautiful Viennese Waltz, which is much faster, but the 1-2-3 beat is still prevalent

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64 thoughts on “On Waltz

  1. I love dancing the waltz – both the slow one and the Viennese. It is so graceful, elegant and dreamy and hardens back to a time when one actually danced with one’s partner (not like the modern dances of these days). One wouldn’t think it but dancing this slow dance the way it is done in competitions requires quite a bit of strength in the legs and upper body. It may be slow but the dancers have to be fit to dance it well.
    Some beautiful videos you have posted tonight Frank :)

  2. I do enjoy the waltz.. a dance my Gran taught me oh so many years ago.. that Linda and I can do well together like we do the rock and roll and jive … not that we get to do this too often any more… the parties we go to seem to have changed their music…

    • Bulldog,
      Cheers for the post rekindling the memories with your Gran. Good to hear that Linda and you have shaken many a leg in your day! I’ll probably do a swing post in the future.

  3. I’m always amazed at what can be found on youtube! You’ve given us a lot to feast on. We took dancing lessons for about a year and half and I enjoyed our attempts at the waltz. I specifically remember moving to Norah Jones’ Come Away With Me, and despite the fact we were probably quite a mess, I felt elegant! I definitely did not know there were so many styles! Time on the ballroom floor is always well spent. :-)

    • Debra,
      Cheers to your time on the ballroom floor … thus you realize that it’s harder than it looks! Elegant is such a good word to describe waltz.Glad you enjoyed the videos.

  4. I agree with the comment by Colline about being fit to dance gracefully. I’ve seen several references in your remarks, Frank, about dancing. You do it a lot?

  5. These were so marvelous, thank you. So many years ago I hate to even remember my Uncle Otto use to dance me on his feet to Waltz music. He was such a wonder. I have always loved this beautiful dance, loved to watch the grace of it.

  6. Ah. Moon River and the waltz. It was so normal and an expected skill when I was growing up, I never thought of it as complicated. Seems like the waltz was in so many movies. Elegant and dreamy.
    Enjoyed reading about the different styles. Lots of charm in this post

  7. Frank… thanks for the videos. I love watching the ones where the music and the dancers just ‘take me along with them’ and I lose awareness of everything else that’s around and become part of the moment. The video with Nocturne features one of those moments with me (the tune is also a favourite Eurovision winner of mine!)
    And the Moon River one also. This tune was one that was played at Dad’s funeral and I always stop when I hear it.
    I’m not a great dancer myself, but really enjoy watching a good dance.

    • Tom,
      There is something about waltz that attracts many people. The music and good dancers can take the observer to a magical place. Glad to note that some of the songs I picked have meaning to you!

    • Hood,
      LOL … I doubt that will happen. We dance because for enjoyment, thus don’t perform – so even posting a video of us is a long shot. Thanks for the encouragement, but I doubt that will happen.

  8. The last tune I danced a waltz was when I was in the Cinti Summer Opera’s production of La Rondine back in the 80′s at Music Hall. My partner had trouble with the rhythm so I was designated the leader! I also remember dancing to the Merry Widow in the CBC’s production also at Music Hall. I love Franz Lehar!

      • My ties are quite tied. I was born there, went to UC – CCM majored in dance and theatre. Danced with the CBC started in 6th grade and became a professional my freshman year in high school. I danced with the Summer Opera ballet for two years. My mom worked at Graeters. I went to St Ursula Villa and St. Ursula Academy. I left Cincy in 87 after I graduated college. My mom passed in 04 and dad in 09. I really have no need to go back unless in choose to run The Flying Pig again;)

        • Maybe we passed in a Graeter’s at one time. :) … The Flying Pig continues to be a successful event. Interesting background. Did you dance in the Chicago area? Still dance?

  9. You didn’t mention the new animated version of Dancing With The Stars – it’s being done by Waltz Disney Studios (Oh come on, you know what day it is) :)

    • Pride,
      Welcome first-time visitor … and being from Colline’s friendly space is a good thing! We dance for personal enjoyment, which also means we don’t compete nor do solo dances for showcases. We took it up 5 years ago because of Dancing with the Stars.

      Although I have a basic pattern, Categories in the sidebar shows that my topics are wide ranging. Dance works its way into the mix on an irregular basis. Thanks for visiting and taking the time to comment.

  10. I did miss this. Thanks for directing me to it. So gorgeous, but still no Frank and Mrs. A. tripping the light fantastic. That is what I’d pay good money to see. Don’t be shy. :)

  11. Thanks, Frank. I enjoyed watching some of these dances very much. My husband and I took dancing lessons before our wedding because I wanted to dance a waltz. And we did. I think it was called Tuesday’s Child. But I can’t remember and I don’t recall who the composer was. We brought the vinyl album, yes, to the reception and the dj played it for us. He never returned it.

    I wish I could dance again. It is a true love of mine, but unfortunately, not one my husband shares. And now I’m afraid my knees just aren’t up to it anymore.

    • Christine,
      Ah yes … dancing can be tough on the knees. My wife has knee issues, and certain dances bother her more than others. Her activity during that day also influences various aches and pain. Glad you enjoyed this one!

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