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Streetswings Dance History Archives: Hesitation Waltz
Modern Dances by De Losques circa 1912
Hesitation Waltz Logo

                The Glide waltz (1870's) held a popularity until the advent of the Hesitation Waltz and Ragtime music. The Hesitation Waltz is a variation of the Boston waltz (a two step count fwd and back waltz) around 1880. The Hesitation Waltz gets its name from the "Pause or Hesitation" in the music. This music along with the Boston or "drop step Boston" formed the Hesitation. Although he Hesitation originally only had ten variations it did not last long because the dance became too difficult to do as it originally had many backbreaking and leg breaking contortions added to it. Many instructors were creating too many figures (by public demand) and eventually they became too difficult for the average dancer to do. The Hobble Skirt was the dress of choice for the ladies to dance the Hesitation.

    The Hesitation Valse (1880s) is a variety of the true Valse that can very easily be performed once the Valse is known. Defined in a nutshell, the "Hesitation" is a halt on one foot (with the other foot suspended in the air or a dragging motion) during the whole "1-2-3" of the

beat of the music, or during the "2-3" only of every alternate "1-2-3." The ways of performing the "hesitation" are many and varied, and no way can be said to be more orthodox or correct than any other. It's popularity soared into the 1910's and by 1913 was one of the main dances done with the exhibition dance teams of the time and rag-dancing. By 1914 it was being replaced by a new dance called the Dream Hesitation which won the contest for new dances of the year.

     In 1913 Albert Newman created the Hesitation Boston (One Step per Measure) which merged with the Boston, in which he used a pattern he called the "The Stroll" he states: Gracefully walk backward four steps, starting with the left foot one measure, right foot one measure, left foot one measure and right foot one measure. Now walk forward to the left oblique, having the lady in Yale Position four steps (left foot one measure, right foot one measure, left foot one measure, right foot one measure). Second Part.-- Boston Turning to the right four measures". This is also very similar to the stroll of the 1960's.

     In London the Boston was also called the Berceuse or Cradle Boston which was the form of Boston most popular at the time and reportedly the most difficult dance for the ballroom on account of the simplicity of its composition. It depended entirely upon each individual to create a most graceful dance, from actually only one step to the measure, and to rotate progressively around the room. After a little practice by the beginner it will be noticed that there was not much progression in this movement, and that it was quite difficult to move as quickly around the room as in the old dance (the Waltz and the Two-step); so it was necessary to add a few other movements which will bring about the desired result, Such as the Spanish Boston and the Herring Bone Boston which was taught for several years, closely resembling the Hesitation Waltz which was so popular at the time. The Canter Waltz was basically two steps per measure.

    One of the leading exponents of the Hesitation in the 1910's was Maurice Mouvet who had a Hesitation Waltz song dedicated to him with the Castles following the way. Many internet articles give credit to the Castles as inventing the Hesitation, but is not correct, however their version did make it much more popular. The hesitation waltz merged with the Boston and today is just a variation of the Waltz and is one popular choice of the traditional 'First Dance' songs used in Weddings.

Because of the Hesitation Waltzes popularity many other dances were designed to include Hesitations such as the Hesitation Tango which came shortly after the Hesitation Waltz popularity in the 1910's and the Hesitation Boston, Hesitation One-step and others.

 

Birth Place

Creation Date

Creator

Dance Type

USA 1880 (1913) Albert Newman BALLROOM
 

Sheet Music Covers

Music preview clip

Some Hesitation Music Titles

Carmelita - Spanish Hes. (Rybak) Click to hear preview clip $ Always and Forever (L. Vandross) [mp3]
1914: Bluebird Waltz Hesitation Click to hear preview clip Barcarole (Waltz Hesitation) [mp3]
1914: Dreams at Sunset (Losey) Clip not available at this time Can't Help Falling in Love [mp3] (E. Presley)
1915: Geraldine - Valse-Hes (Lodge) Clip not available at this time Cecile (Waltz Hesitation)
1914: Hacienda Clip not available at this time Dreaming (Boston Hesitation)
1914: Irresistible Hesitation Waltz Click to hear preview clip Ebb Tide (Righteous Bro.) [mp3]
1914: Just A Moment! (Alstyne) Click to hear preview clip Esmerelda (Waltz Hesitation, Castle's)
1914: Kaloma, Valse Hesitante Clip not available at this time Flame Of Love
1914: La Pauza Click to hear preview clip The First Shoot [mp3]
1914: Maurice's L' Hesitation Click to hear preview clip Friends For Life (Debbie Boone) [mp3]
1914: Merry Madness (Allen) Clip not available at this time Geraldine (Hesitation Waltz)
1914: My Lady Jane
Video Clip Pop-Up Window
Hesitation (Hesitation Waltz)
1914: Skylark Click to hear preview clip Hesitation Waltz (Scottish medley) [mp3]
Hesitation Waltz in C (With Directions) - Clumbia Records
Video Clip Pop-Up Window
Hesitation Waltz in C ... (With Directions) - Clumbia Records
$ 1993: Hesitation Waltz Click to hear preview clip I Still Love You / Waltz Hesitation [mp3]
Esmerelda (Waltz Hesitation) Click to hear preview clip L'Estudiantina [mp3]
Valse Boston Hesitation Click to hear preview clip L'hésitante [mp3]
Valse June Hesitation Clip not available at this time Love Tears (Boston Hesitation)
  Clip not available at this time Love Thoughts
 
Video Clip Pop-Up Window
Millicent (Waltz Hesitation)
  Click to hear preview clip New York Waltzes: II - Hesitation Waltz [mp3]
  Clip not available at this time Passing of Saloma

CD COMPILATIONS ...

Clip not available at this time Path of Roses (Boston Hesitation)
The Occasional's - Back in Step Clip not available at this time Rose River (Boston Hesitation)
Wizards & Wildmen (CD) CD (HW) Clip not available at this time Tango - Hesitation
Gloria Cheng: Piano Dance (CD) (HT) Clip not available at this time Valse Marguerite(James R. Europe)
Barber: Complete Solo Piano (CD) (HT) Clip not available at this time When you're away from the only girl
  ... See more Hesitation Titles here
 

Night Clubs

Theaters

Ballets / Stage

n/a Broadway Theatre (1908) 1908 - A Waltz Dream
      Casino Theatre (1911) 1911 - The Kiss Waltz
      Century Theatre (1921) 1921 - The Last Waltz
      Majestic Theatre (1937) 1937 - Three Waltzes
 
Video Clips (pop-up)

Date

General Waltz Films / Movies

Television

Video Clip not available at this time ~ "Dances thru time Video" Vol II [DVD] 1955 - Great Waltz
Viewable thru a Youtube Video Pop-up window.
1905 LOC - Standard Waltz recreation 1963 - Waltz King
Video Clip not available at this time 1897 Bowery Waltz  
Video Clip not available at this time 1911 Teaching McFadden to Waltz  
Video Clip not available at this time 1912 Percy Learns to Waltz  
Video Clip not available at this time 1912 Von Weber's Last Waltz  
Viewable thru a Youtube Video Pop-up window.
1914 Aeroplane Waltz  
Video Clip not available at this time 1915 Hesitation Waltz

Instructional Waltz Videos

Video Clip not available at this time 1918 Magic Waltz 2001 - Invitation to Dance [VHS]
Video Clip not available at this time 1920 Hesitation Waltz 1993 - You Can Dance Waltz [DVD | VHS]
Viewable thru a Youtube Video Pop-up window.
1925 Waltz Dream (Russian film) How To Waltz at Your Wedding [VHS]
Video Clip not available at this time 1928 Strauss, the Waltz King Bring Back the Romance of Dance [VHS]
Video Clip not available at this time 1929 The Dream Waltz Discover Dance Combinations: The Waltz 1 [DVD]
Video Clip not available at this time 1932 The Waltz King Discover Dance Combinations: The Waltz 2 [DVD]
Viewable thru a Youtube Video Pop-up window.
1933 Waltzes from Vienna Learn to Dance Waltz Vol.1 [DVD]
Video Clip not available at this time 1933 Waltz Time  
Video Clip not available at this time 1934 Farewell Waltz ... see More Instructional Videos
Video Clip not available at this time 1935 Invitation to the Waltz  
Video Clip not available at this time 1935 Royal Waltz

Newspaper Publications

Video Clip not available at this time 1936 The Last Waltz 11/16/1913 - Syracuse Herald (Rag Time Waltz explained)
Video Clip not available at this time 1937 Champagne Waltz 11/23/1913 - Washington Post (Hesitation explained)
Video Clip not available at this time 1938 Great Waltz [DVD | VHS] 11/24/1913 - Oakland Tribune (Doctors oppose new dances)
Video Clip not available at this time 1938 Waltz Melodies 11/26/1913 - Fort Wayne Journal-Gazette (Hesitation and Tango)
Viewable thru a Youtube Video Pop-up window.
1939 Susannah of the Mounties (123 - Shirley Temple teaches Waltz)  
Video Clip not available at this time 1939 Story of Vernon and Irene Castle (Hesitation) [DVD] 1/10/1914 - Indianapolis Star (Defends Hesitation)
Video Clip not available at this time 1941 The Old Waltz 1/13/1914 - Lima Daily News (New Dance - Dream Hesitation Waltz)
Video Clip not available at this time 1945 Tauber Waltz Time [VHS]  
Video Clip not available at this time 1948 Valse brillante 10/4/1914 - Decatur (Tango-Itus)
Video Clip not available at this time 1949 Emperor's Waltz (Crosby) [DVD | VHS] 11/19/1914 - Oakland Tribune (Dansant)
Video Clip not available at this time 1948 Paris Waltz: Yvonne Printemps [VHS]  
Video Clip not available at this time 1952 Walzer von Strauss  
Video Clip not available at this time 1953 Bartered Bride / Last Waltz [VHS]

Magazine Publications

Video Clip not available at this time 1955 The Great Waltz [DVD | VHS] The Occasional's - Back in Step
Video Clip not available at this time 1962 Waltz of the Toreadors [DVD | VHS]  
Video Clip not available at this time 1963 The Waltz King (Disney) [VHS]  
Video Clip not available at this time 1966 Los valse's venían de Viena y los Niños de Paris [DVD]  
Video Clip not available at this time 1971 The Mephisto Waltz [DVD | VHS | Download] non-dance-film  
Video Clip not available at this time 1978 The Last Waltz [DVD | VHS]  
Video Clip not available at this time 1982 Waltz Across Texas [DVD | VHS] non-dance-film  
Video Clip not available at this time 1995 West Side Waltz [DVD] non-dance-film  
Video Clip not available at this time 2000 A Waltz Thru the Hills [DVD | VHS] non-dance-film  
 

Other Related Dances of the time...

Aeroplane Waltz   Maxixe Schottische Valse Boston
Berceuse Gavotte Mazurka Tango Viennese Waltz
Boston, The Glide Waltz Merry Widow Waltz Turkey Trot Waltz
Boston Hesitation Grizzly Bear One Step Two-Step Walzen
Canter Waltz Hesitation Tango Polka Valse Wedding Waltz
Castle Walk Lame Duck Quickstep    
Fox-Trot March      
... Also see Waltz Timeline ...
 

Various Hesitation Dances or Pattern Names ...

Boston Hesitation Hesitation Tango Parisienne Kick Hesitation The Dow Hesitation
Castle Hesitation Hesitation Waltz Pivot Hesitation The Stately Hesitation
Dream Hesitation Maori Hesitation Sebastian Hesitation  
Half Time Waltz Maurice Hesitation Swallow Hesitation  
Harvard Hesitation Waltz Mistletoe Hesitation The Dip Hesitation  
Hesitation Ocean Roll Hesitation Twinkle Hesitation  
hesitation One Step Open Hesitation    
 

Dancers, Choreographers etc.

Political

A.P. Furman Maurice Mouvet n/a
Albert W. Newman Nicholas Magallanes  
Arthur Murray Professor George Damour (1914-NY)  
Charles J. Nash (Mr. & Mrs.) Radie Furman (AP's daughter)  
Elsie Janis (1913) Quentin Todd and Mlle. La Gai (1914)  
Florence Walton Tanaquil Le Clerq  
F. Leslie Clendenen The Castles  
Gene Eppley (!914)    
 

Books, Magazine Articles on the dance...

Title

Author

Date Published

Publisher

Dance Mad [Availability ???] F. Leslie Clendenen 1914 ~
$ Dances of To-day Albert W. Newman 1914 ~
Handbook of Ballroom Dancing Cartier, P. 1888 DeWitt
$ The Tango and Other Up to Date Dances Hopkins, J. S. 1914 Saalfield Pub. Co.
$ Modern Dancing Castle, Vernon 1914 World Syndicate Co
Moving Picture Book Liggett & Myers 1914 n/a
$ Social dancing of today Kinney, Margaret 1914 Frederick A. Stokes
$ The modern dances Walker, Caroline 1914 Saul brothers
       
       
 

Musicians

Singers

Poets / Writers

Castle House Orchestra n/a n/a
Europe, James Reese (1889-1919)      
Johann Strauss, Jr.        
Victor Military Band        
Waltz Hesitation Band        
 

Misc. Research Words that may be related ... to help your searches

Balloon Dress n/a n/a -
         
 

Other ...

  • Hesitation Waltz Basic Steps: (c.1888) Men start Left foot forward, Ladies do opposite below:

  • Main Variation:
    do basic waltz then step three times ("1--2-3"), then do a single step ("1") and hesitate ("2-3"). It will be seen that the first step leading to the hesitation is always performed in this variety with the right foot; and that it is the right foot always that is suspended in the air (1880s) during the hesitation. Modern way is step one, bring Left Foot together on two with no weight placed and hold that position for three.
  • Second Variation:
    Take one step forward with the left foot (to the whole beat "1-2.3" of the music), then a similar step forward with the right foot ("1--2-3"), rook backwards ("1--2-3"), rock forwards ("1--2-3), basically a one step waltz for three beats variation, then continue waltzing.
  • Third Variation: Boston addition: Do the above step twice, then go into the plain Boston for four beats. ' In case any one is not familiar with the Boston, it
    is a case of stepping back and forth to the music of one, two, three, but only stepping one two,; one - two forward back, 1-2 forward back, and when you can do that you count the same and pivot around as in a plain waltz.