Viennese Waltz among the most beautiful of dances


The Viennese Waltz is a dance that dates back to the early 1700s in Europe, primarily in the Hungarian and Austrian empire. It started with the common folk and then became popular with the upper class, because it was being danced in the most prestigious ballrooms with the live Strauss orchestra.

This is the dance I grew up with, and it has always been one of my favorites. It is one of the most elegant and poised of the waltzes.

Viennese Waltz is danced in a fast, three-quarter time and features left and right turns which make the couple appear to be "whirling" around the dance floor. As its popularity increased, so did the speed.

Austrian composers like Johann Strauss and Franz Lanner increased the number of measures per minute in their waltzes and the music got faster - in fact twice as fast as the waltz.

Dancers really had to have greater technique and endurance for this dance. This is when a new version of the Waltz became the Viennese Waltz. It is elegant with lots of turns. Popular Viennese Waltz songs include "The Blue Danube" and "The Skater's Waltz."

Eventually Viennese Waltz entered the competitive ballroom dance world and still remains one of the favorites by most dancers.

Even though it has the least variations of steps, it is probably the hardest to deliver in a competitive setting because of the speed of the music.

When the dance reached America, it took a turn and became more theatrical, with lots of turns, kicks and even dips. The music had to slow down to accommodate all these extra tricks. Even though this dance is traditional, we are still able to dance it to today's pop music.

Today we have two styles of Viennese Waltz in the competition world - standard Viennese Waltz and the American Viennese Waltz.

For those of you who are already comfortable with your ballroom dancing, give the Viennese Waltz a shot next.

Sandro Virag is a partner and instructor at Fred Astaire Dance Studios of Hilton Head, located in Bluffton at Seaquins Ballroom.

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