Encyclopedia of Dance: Waltz


Waltz is a dance that everyone knows. It is danced at proms and weddings, at famous Viennese balls and in country clubs.

Waltz is one of the most romantic and beloved dances, uniting generations and plunging us into a state of some euphoria. The waltz genre is so loved by many songwriters who have written their imperishable masterpieces that have not lost their popularity for many years — «May Waltz», «Victory Waltz», «Dombai Waltz» and many others.

The history of the origin of the dance

Waltz can not be attributed to the old dances. Compared to the allemande or chimes, the waltz is young. Its age is estimated at less than two centuries. But no one knows for sure the exact origin of this dance.

According to one version, the progenitor of the waltz was the German impetuous walzer. And another version says that the waltz came from the Lendler — a three-part dance of German and Austrian peasants, which was danced in pairs and always in a circle. Pretty simple dance, devoid of complex elements. However, it has all the signs of a future waltz — a partner touching a lady’s waist, moving in a circle, kneeling a partner, as an indispensable element of a modern waltz.

The dance changed over time many times, acquiring the outlines of a waltz familiar to us, and reached the aristocracy. The waltz penetrated social balls and receptions, however, having undergone many negative responses. So, in 1816, the waltz was included in ballroom dancing at the court. After that, the dance was heavily criticized by religious leaders and confessors. They considered him “depraved”, “shameful”, devoid of chastity, violating the norms of morality and morality, because only courtesans could demonstrate such behavior in the dance. The dance was labeled «sinful», «vulgar» and «obscene», and decided that it was not worthy of decent society. This attitude to the waltz was observed throughout Europe. Especially in stiff England, where morals were even stricter.

But the waltz could not be completely strangled. The bourgeoisie enthusiastically accepted the German dance. It was distributed among the townspeople in secular dance parlors, although this caused resentment among moralists who compared the love of the waltz as an addiction.

Maybe the waltz would have remained a persecuted dance, if not for the work of Strauss, Lanner and other composers of the era of romanticism. The peak of their popularity came in the 30s of the 19th century. Ennobled music gave impetus to the development of waltz choreography, acquiring grace, lightness and beauty. By the end of the 19th century, the waltz had become a full-fledged dance at court balls. Its popularity was promoted by Queen Victoria, a passionate lover of ballroom dancing, especially the waltz.



Waltz is a romantic, gentle and very diverse dance. The tests and modifications that the waltz has experienced during its existence have helped to give birth to the most diverse types of this wonderful dance. To date, there are a huge number of varieties of waltz, but the most common include:

viennese waltz

The dance is fast, impetuous, graceful, light.

Slow inals (waltz-boston or english waltz)

Elegant, restrained, requiring high discipline and good technique. Characterized by a change in pace, the presence of sustained pauses and fermat.

Tango waltz

A combined genre that combines elements of tango and waltz. It is also called the Argentine Waltz.

figured waltz

Waltz, which was included in the sports program of ballroom dancing back in the USSR in the 60s of the 20th century. It is characterized by the implementation of strict figures (elements).

Waltz Features

Waltz as an instrumental genre is very popular among classical composers. In addition to the aforementioned Strauss and Lanner, Chopin, Tchaikovsky, Prokofiev, Glinka often turned to the waltz genre. And largely thanks to them, the waltz is so popular and loved.

The modern waltz is multifaceted and full of varieties — slow and sedate, fast and impetuous. But all of them are united by one thing — a tripartite size with an emphasis on the strong beat. «One, two, three» — this is the pulsation of the waltz, its rhythmic structure. The waltz is always spinning. After all, even the word “waltz” itself comes from the German “walzen”, meaning “to rotate” or “circling”. Therefore, waltz music can always be distinguished by a feeling of light whirling, fast or slow.

But the waltz is performed mainly in a closed position, and the most popular figure in the waltz is considered to be a full turn in two measures with three steps in each.

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