Viennese Waltz: Embracing the Tradition

 Couple dancing the traditional Viennese Waltz

Couple dancing the traditional Viennese Waltz

Viennese Waltz: Embracing the Tradition

Who can forget the timeless allure and romance of the Viennese Waltz? Even if you've already made a habit of twirling with your partner at that brisk, 3-steps-per-second tempo, you may not know the tradition's compelling back story. If you've yet to make friends with the Viennese Waltz, you're sure to recognize it from popular films, music, and ballets. We'd like to share with you a bit of its history, along with our enthusiasm for the dance as it's still done today.

One of the oldest dances in ballroom history, the waltz is a rotary dance. What in the world does that mean? The dancers turn together continuously, both to the left and to the right in a counterclockwise pattern, following the line of dance around the room. The Viennese Waltz is substantially faster than other waltzes, and was the first to be danced in closed position (more about that later!).

It's widely believed that the Viennese Waltz began in the European countryside with a dance called the Ländler, but rapidly evolved when it reached the city of Vienna. An entertaining account detailing the dance's "surprisingly scandalous origins" reveals that the Viennese Waltz was once forbidden in proper society. It was danced as protest by young revelers, and unmarried women who took part were especially frowned upon.

Seems strange, right? What could cause such a fuss with a dance that's so tame by contemporary standards? Well, all that uproar was due to the proximity of the dancers' movement in that closed, intimate frame (also known as dance position). Prior to this, polite society had danced the minuet, which kept at least an arm's length distance between each dancer. Holding hands was pretty much the maximum affection allowed... that is, until the rebels of Viennese Waltz hit the scene! Still, societal norms were not quite ready to embrace such public displays. Following the Civil War, the Viennese Waltz came to the U.S., where it continues to flourish.

There are so many things to love about the dance. Noted for its very fast tempo, it's a fun challenge for new and seasoned dancers alike. Many people remark on the satisfying spinning motion. Waltzes can often begin with an exchange of a formal bow and curtsy. With a nod to that polite society that once eschewed it, dance comes full circle again!

Our discussion of Viennese Waltz would not be complete without an acknowledgement of its beautiful ball gowns, those ethereal costumes that seem to glide through the air like tropical birds. But you don't have to spend a fortune. Raid your closet with the best excuse to dress up and join us! Smithsonian notes that many Austrians begin learning the Viennese Waltz in their teenage years. Why not you?

Don't be shy, contact us today for classes!