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The Waltz photo depicting Wicked Waltzing Couples
The Waltz dance Title

            The Dances of Court and earlier were usually procession type dances that were very stately, solemn, and dignified types of dances, (French dances were much more vivacious) done in a separated position to show a breeding and nobility superior to that of the peasants.

The prime contribution of the waltz, historically is that it would be done in a closed position rather than an open or separated dance position. This positioning of the dancers was determined very scandalous (lewd) for the woman at the time by all whom seen it danced. Touching each other in public under the masquerade of dancing was frowned upon. It would take centuries to triumph over.

    The waltz has a lengthy line of history that slightly goes back to the 13th. Century with the Westphalia from Province. The 1520s approximately brought the Dreher or Walzer (turning) from Germany . In the medial 1500s, the Volta (two steps and a leap) appeared and consisted of waltz type behavior with high leaps in the air by the follower, assisted by the leader. Vienna came onto the scene with the Weller in 1580 and around the 1590s, the Nizzarda from France had waltz similarities.

    These dances were frequently preempted with another dance (usually 2/4 time) and at the conclusion, the music would shift to ¾ time (known as NachTanz or After Dance.) The dancers would clasp their partners around neck and waist and would break out into one of these dances.

    The Volta of 1556 is weighed by many to be the first actual waltz (some say Ländler in view of the glide) and was the first dance, done in actual closed position (not on the side or open position as some of the others.) It was done to the song titled "La Fallada." The word Walzen means strolchen (tramping), but can also suggest Schleifen (sliding or gliding.) Waltz literally means "to turn forward from one place or to advance by turning." Most round dances come from this "Turning" or waltzing around the floor.

    The waltz is considered the "Queen of all the dances." The first tangible waltz tune appeared in 1670 in a popular song, "O du lieber Augustin." Vienna was the first to reveal the Viennese waltz (Valse) in the Opera "Una Cosa Rara" in 1776. However, it did not become popular until 1788, when it was introduced on the Viennese stage, in an opera called "The Cosarara," by Vincent Martin.

    The waltz was said to be introduced to England in 1790 by Baron Newman (some say 1812). Later it was introduced into France from Germany by the triumphal soldiers of Napoleon I (1769-1821,) after his return from Germany, following his grand encounter at Austerlitz in which three of the greatest armies of Europe, each commanded by an Emperor, were signally defeated on December 2nd, 1805.

    The waltz as we know it today, was the first unquestionable closed couple dance done in aristocracy with all the other dances before being open dances (no embrace.) The waltz was considered very "scandalous," for the dancers did an embrace and held each other so close that their bodies and even faces touched while they danced. The women were thrown around exuberantly (Adagio type) which at the time was "Immoral and Sinful."

    When the waltz finally became accepted by society, all dances that followed were variations of the waltz. The Polka was the second closed position couple dance to come along and rivaled the waltz, with the Mazurka being third. The Ladies were always in "pursuit," or better known today as dancing forwards (otherwise the gowns they wore would get stepped on and tear apart or they would trip and fall etc.)

    Waltzes went by other names in other countries and provinces: Volta, La Volte, Fuhrung / Weller, Ländler, Drekkar, Salta, Volta, Boston, Hop Waltz, Glide Waltz, Hesitation, Viennese, Mazy, Merry Widow Waltz etc. The Valse was another way of saying waltz. Many of the other dances would amalgamate with the waltz and become the Polka-Waltz, Mazurka-Waltz, Menuet-Waltz etc. (see Half-&-Half)

    Many groups (including the U.S.) protested the dance and critics became outraged with some forbidding the waltz to be danced. Swabia and Switzerland forbade the waltz. Wilhelm II prohibited the waltz in court balls in Germany and England did not appreciate it until 1812! In 1815, while being danced at Almacks by then Emperor Alexander (Russia,) Princess Esterhazy, and finally Lord Palmertson, it became known as the "Imperial Waltz" and was there to stay. Decrees were issued forbidding "all gliding and turning," posting public ordinances, which read:

1) "Both men and women must be dressed decently for the waltz."
2) "No man might dance in breeches and doublet without a coat."
3) "Women and girls must not be thrown about."

    Dancing was forbidden under Puritan decree (and others) among the settlers. As an instance, the Bishops of Wurzburg and Fulda forbade the waltz and prohibited it being danced in 1760. Noblemen ultimately started building private ballrooms in their houses to circumvent the demoralized situation, they had sequestered balls with only nobility and the best dancers attending, thus adding to its zeal. Even up to the early 1900's, the dance was scrutinized, In Zorn's book (1905) he explains the waltz hold, "Never place your arm around the ladies waist and do not raise his left arm so high as it causes her arm to go around him."

    The music makers (composers) were to help make the change from scandalous to beauty. The beautiful waltz music would be embraced by all. Thus as time went on, the leaps were taken out, the wild steps became smaller and much more graceful, making it a socially acceptable, lovely dance (sometimes called the Glide Waltz).

    Ordinarily, Waltz music is written in 3/4 time (three quarter notes per each measure) or one down beat and two up beats. However, just like our Jazz era, musicians played with the dance and music, as some were written in 6/8 and supposedly 2/4 time. Johann Strauss started a 'Merry Widow craze' with his song of the same name. Everything became Merry Widow "insert name here." There was even a song called: "I'd like to find the Man who wrote the Merry Widow Waltz" (guess he did not like it). The Waltz started to decline about 1825.

    The step of the La Valse à deux temps (three steps, not two) was the same as that of the Gallop of the time, the difference only being in the accentuation, as it is danced to waltz music. This waltz made its debut at the Court of Vienna in the 1830s. It became very popular about 1850s.

    The Glide Waltz held popularity because of its smoother movement until the advent of the Hesitation Waltz . The Hesitation did not endure long as the dance became too complex to do, as it inventively had many backbreaking and leg-breaking contortions added to it. As many instructors were producing too many figures, (by public demand $$$) and inevitably became too difficult for the typical dancer to do.

    The Boston Waltz also known as American Waltz was introduced in Boston, MA. In 1834 by dancing
Master Lorenzo Papatino (partner N/A) when Mrs. Otis Beacon Hill employed Papatino to give a dance
presentation at her mansion. The Boston waned in popularity in the early 1900's, but stimulated the English Waltz alternatively, "International Style Waltz" now called "Standard" by Olympic dance sport.

    Five Step Waltz (n/a) - Slide the foot forward (count one). Bring up the right, springing and raising the left pointing the toe to the floor (count two). Spring again on the right; bring the left back close to the right (count three). Slide the left forward again (count four); then bring the right foot in front of the left (count five). Recommence the same with the right foot. Turn and reverse, as in other dances.

     The Hop Waltz (2/4) which is also known as La Sauteuse or Waltz á trois temps differs from the other waltzes described and became popular in the 1820s and later had a resurgence around 1856. It was a subdued Redowa by those who failed in those days, finding the Redowa beyond their powers of proficiency. The Redowa was modified with the waltz and became the Hop-waltz with the first and fourth steps being leaped instead of glided, except that the first step must be jumped, like a jetté, or a Fouette and the other two steps being run. The other behaviors are the same as in the basic waltz.

    Knickerbocker Waltz (n/a) - Waltz step half round, beginning with left foot; waltz step half round, beginning with right foot; waltz step again beginning with left foot; then execute two side movements sidewise with right foot. Repeat the above, beginning with the right foot.


Birth Place

Creation Date


Dance Type

roots = 1200's (1500's) Germany n/a Ballroom

Posters, Lobby Cards

Sheet Music Covers

Music Titles

Dream of the Waltz 1892 - Jolly Fellows Waltz 1670 - O du lieber Augustin
Last Waltz 1893 - After The Ball Waltz 1679 - das lied vom lieben augustin
Witches Whirl Waltz 1898 - Dream Faces Waltz 1770 - Ach! du lieber Augustine
      1908 - Merry Widow 1868 - Tales from the Vienna Woods
      1908 - Merry Widow Rag 1895 - The Band Played On
      1919 - That Naughty Waltz 1866 - Blue Danube Waltz
      1925 - Merry Widow 1906 - Waltz Me Again Willie
      1932 - Merry Widow 1908 - Yi-Addy-I-Ay
      Skaters Waltz - Invitation à la Valse
      1934 - Champagne Waltz - Merry Widow Waltz-
      Blue Danube - Waltz Boogie

- Auf Wiedersehen
      - Waltz Me Around Again, Willie
      - Jeannie (Lilac Time)
      - I'll Take Romance
      - Valse Septembre
      - Vera Violetta
      - Danse Espagnole (Ascher)
      1919 - Sweet and Low Waltz

Ballrooms / Night Clubs



1607- Zum Sperl 1802- Tivoli Theater- Paris England
1608 - Apollo Shubert (Teller's) 1916 France,
1787 - Breiten       Germany
1812 - Almacks (Willis)       Hapsburg Court
1812 - Willis's (Almacks)       Italy
1812 - Pantheon       Prague
1839 - Baden-Baden (deux-temps)       Russia
Roseland Ballroom       Spain
Palladium Ballroom       USA,
Palomar Ballroom       Vienna
La Monica Ballroom       1839 - Carnival of 1839 (deux temps)
Cinderella Ballroom        



Ballets / Stage

What's New (Champagne Waltz) - Kirnbauer Milton Berle Show (Clip) The Great Waltz
      Court of Valois
1908 - die macht des Walzers       1776 - Una Cosa Rara
1920 - Waltz Me Around (8mm-order)       1778 - The Cosarara
1920 - Waltz Me Around       Don Giovanni
1931 - la Chienne (Parisian Waltz Musette)       1916 - Hoheit tanzt Walzer
1932 - Es war einmal ein Walzer        
1934 - Ben Pollack Orchestra (Vitaphone 1696)      
1934 - The Merry Widow        
1936 - Invitation to the Waltz        
1937- Victoria the Great      


1938 - The Great Waltz       1800s - Salmagundi-Periodical
1946 - Ziegfeld Follies       1816 - The London Times
1949 - La Valse de Paris?       1857 - New York Ledger
1952 - The Merry Widow       11/23/1867 - Harpers Weekly
1953 - Ford 50th Anniversary #2       7/7/1912 - Indianapolis Sunday Star
1955 - The Great Waltz        
1956 - The King and I        
1977 - Roseland        
1993 - Strictly Ballroom        

Other Waltz Dances ...

Aurora's Waltz Fascination Waltz Love Waltz (1914) Skaters Waltz
Balance Waltz Five Step Waltz Mazurka-Waltz Society Waltz
Bohemian Waltz French Waltz Miller Whirl (1914) Swing Waltz
Boston Fuhrun (gen) Narragansett Waltz Teuton Waltz
Canter Waltz Gitan Waltz Nights of Gladness Waltz Victoria Waltz
Cinderella Waltz Glide Waltz Philadelphia Glide Waltz Viennese Waltz
College Step Waltz Hesitation Waltz Polka Dot Waltz Volta / Volte
Columbine Waltz Hop Waltz Prima Donna Waltz Waltz á trois temps (Hop)
Deutscher Spring Walzer (Teuton) Hungarian Waltz Racket Waltz
Imperiale' Waltz Redowa Waltz Walzen
Diagonal Waltz Jitterbug Waltz Rye Waltz Weller
Drehar Kinsey Waltz Schottische Waltz Whirlwind Waltz
Drekker Knickerbocker Waltz Sicilian Waltz (5/4) Windsor Waltz
Espana-Waltz La Sauteuse (Hop Waltz) Six Eight Waltz  
Eugenie Ländler Trasko, the (1917)  
  Le Metropole Waltz ... See Waltz Time Line

Other Related Dances ...

Allemande Contredanse Moresca Spanish Dance
Alsaciene Cotillion One Step Strasbourgeoise
Arie (Folk Dance) Folia Passe-Pied Tango
Ballet Fox Trot Pavane Tordion
Basse Gagliarde Polka Turkey Trot
Bouree Galliard Polonaise Two-Step
Branle Galop Redowa Tyroliene
Canaries Dance Gavotte Rigaudon Varsouvienne
Chacona Jig Saltarello Schottische
Clog Minuet Sarabande  

Political Waltz Dancers

(1187-1226) Louis VII (1749-1832) Johann Goethe
(1235-1285) Peter The Great (Westphalia) Betsy Hamilton
(1491-1547) Henri VIII (1752-1836) Betsy Ross
(1507-1536) Anne Boleyn (1769 1821) Napoleon I
(1512-1542) James V (1785-1857) Madame de Lieven
(1519-1589) Catherine De Medici (1790) William II
(1530s) Madeleine de Valois (with James V) (1790s) Baron de Neuman
(1638-1715) Louis XIV (1840S) Mme. Lemcomte
(1640-1705) Leopold I (1845-1935) Jules Martin
(1674-1761) Beau Nash Lord Palmerston
(1732-1799) George Washington Princess Esterhazy
(1743-1626) Thomas Jefferson  


A. P. Furman Fred Astaire Mae Murray
Anna Neagle John Gilbert Marge & Gower Champions
Arthur Murray Lucille Brenner Ruby Asquith

Books / Articles





Orchesography Arbeau, Thoinot 1588 Langres
Coulons Handbook Coulon, Eugene 1873 A Hammonds
Cartiers and Barons practical illustrated Waltz... Cartier, P Valliers 1879 De Witt
A History Of Dancing Johnston, Reginald S. 1905 Simpkin-Kent & Co.
Grammer of the Art of Dancing Zorn, Friedrich Albert 1905 ??
Dancing Made Easy Rosarie, Gabrielle 1919 Edward J. Clode, inc.
World History Of The Dance Sachs, Curt 1936 W.W.Norton
Dance Encyclopedia Chujoy, Anatole 1949 A.S. Barnes
Down Memory Lane Murray, Arthur 1954 Greenberg



Poets / Writers

1670- Schmelzer, Johann Heinrich 1537 - Hans Sebald Beham 1805 - Le Bon Guere
(1685-1750) - Bach 1581 - Fabrito Caroso 1817 - J.H.S. Randell
(1756-1791) - Mozart, Wolfgang Amadeus 1600 - Penshurst Place, Kent - Unk.  
(1765-1814) - Himmel, Fredrich    
(1770-1827) - Beethoven, Ludwig    
(1786-1826) - Weber, Von    
(1797-1828) - Schubert, Franz    
(1803-1869) - Berlioz, Louis Hector    
(1804-1849) - Strauss Sr., Johann    
(1810-1849) - Chopin, Frédéric    
(1811-1886) - Liszt, Franz    
(1825-1899) - Strauss Jr., Johann    
(1827-1870) - Strauss, Josef    
(1829-1869) - Ascher, Joseph    
(1875-1937) - Ravel, Maurice    
(1833 -1897) - Brahms, Johannes    
(1835-1916) - Strauss, Edward    
(1837-1915) - Waldteufel, Emil    
Franz Lanner    
Michael Pamer    

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

Ball Fetes Masquerades Vernacular
Baroque French Revolution Pastoral Volta
Bourgeois Gowns Rococo Walzen
Cotillions Hobnails Stately Wirtschaften
Dance Masters Hoteleries Teutsche (Waltzes)  
Deutschen Jodler Trois-pas  
Basic for Box Step (American),
Music 3/4 time (Down1 - Up2/Up3 rhythm
or 1,2,3 ---2,2,3, --- 3,2,3, --- 4,2,3, --- 1 ,2,3 ...
(Follower uses right foot instead of left)
1) Forward Left.
2) Side Right.
3) Together Left - Then repeat other direction
4) Back Right
5) Side Left.
6) Together Right.
(Variation, try turning 1/4 turn to leaders left on first step)
Box Step Diagram
$ Learn the basic Waltz - Click Here (vhs) V. Waltz Links
Cocao and Corsets: a collection of late victorian and Edwardian Poster cards Cocao and Corsets: a collection of late victorian and Edwardian Poster cards