How to Waltz on Video (DVD) | Dancing the Waltz
Best-Selling Waltz Instruction Video, History and Basics
The Waltz is considered by many to be the mother of today's couples dances. Once known for its seductiveness and immoral connotations due to the tight closed position and rapid and constant turning, the Waltz today is known for its distinctive rise and fall look because it is elegant, smooth, and beautiful on the dance floor.
| Waltz 101 is the perfect starting point anyone wanting to learn a timeless romantic dance that is much more than a simple box step. Shawn & Joanna Trautman show you the right look & style to make this dance your own in either ballroom or country settings. |
Who Popularized the Waltz
Waltz as we know it today, with the closed dance position and independently dancing couples, was popularized in the high-society circles of Europe. The French especially adopted the waltz with alacrity. The waltz was created to accompany a very specific type of music that gained enormous popularity through the work of various period composers, the frontrunners being Joseph Lanner and Johann Strauss. As with almost all things European, the waltz made its way across the Atlantic and became a firmly grounded bastion of American ballroom dancing.
What is the Waltz?
The waltz is a progressive dance that is done in three-quarter time, meaning that there is a six- count basic and the music that the waltz accompanies has three beats per measure. If you were to hum along with a waltz, you would feel the under- lying bum-buh-buh, bum-buh-buh.
There are two types of waltz, Viennese and the modern waltz. The Viennese waltz is marked by an extremely quick tempo, while the modern waltz has a more romantic look to the slower waltz songs. However, all forms of waltz are marked by a characteristic rise and fall that matches the musical percussive emphasis on the first beat of every measure.
Where did the Waltz Originate & Where is it Danced?
The waltz originated in the folk dances of the Bavarian and Austrian Alps, but truly gained popularity in the ballrooms of the Austrian court. From Austria, the music and the dance spread across Europe. As the popularity of the waltz and the associated music grew, the dance traveled across the Atlantic Ocean to the United States.
As a parent dance for all of the modern ballroom dances, waltz is most frequently done in ballrooms. However, because the waltz can be danced to any song that has three-quarter timing, a slow version of the waltz is also seen in the country-western world. The waltz is also a popular choice for a choreographed first dance at a wedding, though music choice is much more limited than it is with the other contemporary ballroom dances. The waltz is also a staple at such events as Quinceañera, debuts, and other formal coming-of-age social events.
Learn How to Waltz for a Wedding
When did the Waltz Become Popular & When is the Right Time to Waltz?
The exact birth date of the waltz is unknown, but it is firmly established that contredanse versions of the waltz were performed in European high society to three-quarter time music in the mid-eighteenth century.
The version of the waltz that we dance today, with couples dancing independently in closed dance positions, emerged toward the end of the eighteenth century. For the early years of the nineteenth century, the waltz was, for the most part, contained to continental European and then English high society. The waltz was introduced to the New World in 1834 at an exhibition in Boston, Massachusetts. The waltz gained a firm foothold in American social dancing and paved the way for the remainder of the ballroom dances.
The right time to waltz can be described as any time you hear an appropriate song. Because there are two established and accepted tempos for the waltz, Viennese and modern, if the timing of the music is three-quarter time, there could potentially be immeasurable opportunities to dance the waltz in an evening. The waltz can be an exhilarating and upbeat breath-stealer of a Viennese waltz or a soft, slow, and lilting modern waltz, depending on the song. This is why historically, during the waltz’s heyday, an evening at the ballroom would be 90-percent waltz and 10-percent everything else.
Why is the Waltz Danced?
Depending on the tempo, the waltz is danced for several reasons. The Viennese waltz is an exuberant celebration of your dance partner, the song, and life in general in its very rapid tempo and quick turns and upbeat music. The modern ballroom waltz is a more stately and formal exhibition of the dance partner as you travel around the floor. In its adolescence and prime, all versions of the waltz were considered very risqué and intimate, but the waltz of today is considered a very romantic, yet formal dance.
What Kind of Attire Should Be Worn When Waltzing?
There is no dress code or standard apparel for dancing the waltz; however, you will typically see and dance the waltz at formal occasions, so dress to the occasion. The major exception to this rule is the country waltz, which is done to songs as a part of a dance set along with two-step, west coast swing, east coast swing, and cha-cha at country nightclubs. At a country nightclub, you would be more appropriately dressed in informal attire.
How to Waltz: Waltz Basics
The Waltz is considered the parent of all social ballroom dances. It is one of the oldest social dances, with a rich history marked by controversy and wild popularity.
As previously mentioned, the waltz is danced to three-quarter timing, which means the number of songs to which you can practice is quite limited if you’re just turning on your radio or pulling out your CD or MP3 collection. It might be best to do check out our Waltz song list to get a good feel for the music and then practice along. At the very least, try to understand and get familiar with the timing in order to recognize the dance when the opportunity arises.
The Six-Count Basic of the Waltz (Box Step):
The six-count basic of waltz is made up of one box step, or two sets of half boxes and the distinctive rise and fall. Each step in the waltz contains the same amount of time—one beat—even though the strongest accent is on counts 1 and 4. Waltz, in layman’s terms, is said out loud like this:
Step, side, together,
Step, side, together.
If you’re more mathematically inclined and like to use numbers, it’s counted like this:
One, two, three,
Four, five, six.
For the correct rise and fall look and feel, you’ll want to let your body lower slightly on the first count, rise on the second count, and start to lower again on the third. (The same holds true for counts 4, 5, and 6.) It’s a continuous, yet soft, up and down motion that should appear effort- less and flowing.
To try the waltz basics in place, assume foot position 1 and be in your respective ready position. Next, you’ll want to simply take six steps in a row, changing weight each time and counting them aloud (either 1-2-3, 4-5-6 or step, step, together, step, step, together). Doing this a few times should get you familiar with the timing and the changing of weight. At the end of every six counts, you should be back in your ready position, which means you and your partner will be on opposite feet the entire time, even when you stop.
How to Waltz: Video Lessons
Learning how to do the basics of the Waltz is one thing, but truly learning how to Waltz takes some time and requires skilled instruction. Shawn Trautman has put together numerous Waltz lessons together on video including Waltz 101, his latest video on the basics and a combination of both the Ballroom Waltz and Country Waltz
In Waltz 101, Shawn and Joanna Trautman teach you how to Waltz by breaking it into several manageable pieces including the rhythm, the look and style and the lead and follow elements. In addition, you'll also gain a great appreciation for dancing the Waltz to different types of music and at different tempos as they walk you through both Ballroom Waltz and Country Waltz.