Schedule a lesson at Fred Astaire Dance Studios to learn a romantic partner dance with a history steeped in scandal. The waltz likely originated in the 16th century as a Bavarian folk dance. The word “waltz” is derived from the German word “walzen,” which means “to revolve.” The partner dance is performed in triple time and characterized by rhythmic turns around the dance floor. When the dance was introduced to high society in Germany and Austria in the 18th century, it shocked ballrooms with its close embrace and high-intensity twirling. Partner dancing was already in vogue when the waltz hit the scene, but it featured precise movements with partners at arm’s length. Even the Oxford English Dictionary described the waltz as “riotous and indecent“ in 1825, according to media reports. Despite the displeasure of the older generation, the dance was all the rage, and the new dance quickly spread across Europe and to America.
Many renowned musicians during this time composed waltzes that are still popular today. Some of the most famous composers included Franz Schubert, Frédéric Chopin, and Johann Strauss II. While the music of those famous composers is associated with the waltz, it can be danced to most present-day tunes played by DJs at various social events.
There are a number of different types of waltzes, and Fred Astaire Dance Studios can help you and your partner find the type you prefer. It’s easy to learn and a great way to reconnect.
This is a slow partner dance that includes a step, slide, and step in three-quarter time. The dance features soft flowing movements, and dancers maintain a strict closed position throughout the dance. In this clip, Russian dancers Dmitry Zharkov and Olga Kulikova perform the International Standard Waltz at a dance competition in Moscow.
Similar in speed and style to the International Standard, the American style features both open and closed positions, which allows dancers more freedom of movement on the dance floor. It is also characterized by a box step. Here’s a clip from the movie “Dance Hall,” where some of the main characters perform the American Waltz at a jazz hall.
The Country Western version is danced to country music in three-quarter time. Similar to both the International and American Waltzes but stands out because performers wear cowboy hats, boots, and other traditional country attire during their performance. Here are some dancers performing a Country Western Waltz at a dance competition.
Once you’ve mastered the basics of the waltz, give the original version a try. The Viennese Waltz was the first style performed in Europe, and turned up the temperature in ballrooms around the continent. This is the most complicated type because it is fast-paced and incorporates quick turns. In fact, the Viennese Waltz can be performed up to four times faster than the other types. Check out these two dancers perform a traditional Viennese Waltz to “Delilah” by Tom Jones on “Strictly Come Dancing,” a dance competition show in England.
Fred Astaire Dance Lessons offers group or private lessons at its studios, as well as streaming lessons online. Contact your local Fred Astaire Dance Studios location to schedule a lesson to learn how to waltz today.