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Viennese waltz Dancers    



Viennese waltz



The Viennese Waltz is a dance performed to music with three beats to the bar. This means that if a step is taken on each beat, then each bar starts with the opposite foot to that of the previous bar. This can be a source of great difficulty for the beginner, but when mastered it gives the dance a delightful romantic lilt.
The first record of a dance to 3/4 rhythm is a peasant dance of the Provence area of France in 1559, as a piece of folk music called the Volta. The word "volta" means "the turn" in Italian. Thus, even in its earliest days, the dance appears to have involved the couple turning as they danced.


During the 16th Century, the Volta became popular in the royal courts of Western Europe. The Volta required the partners to dance in a closed position but with the lady to the left of the man! The man held the lady about the waist, and the lady put her right arm on the man's shoulders, and held her skirt with her left. This was necessary to stop it flying up, because the dance involved the man lifting the lady using his left thigh under the lady's right thigh. ¬†Glynis Johns playing the part of Mary Tudor performs this dance in the movie "The Sword and the Rose".
In order to do this in the Volta, the partners had to hold each other in such a close embrace that many declared it immoral. Louis XIII (1601-1643) had it banned from court on this account.

In 1754 the first music for the actual "Waltzen" appeared in Germany. Any connection between the Waltzen and the Volta remains obscure, except that the word "waltzen" in German also means "to revolve".
The dance became very popular in Vienna, with large dance halls being opened to accommodate the craze. In 1812 the dance was introduced into England under the name of the German Waltz. ¬†
Through the 19th Century, the dance stabilized, and was further popularized by the music of Josef and Johann Strauss.

Currently, the Viennese Waltz is danced at a tempo of about 180 beats per minute.



Extract from: HISTORY OF MODERN BALLROOM DANCING
By Don Herbison-Evans
Departmental Report TRS-96-008
Department of Mathematics and Computing,
Central Queensland University,
Bundaberg, Australia
(revised 21 January 2001)
References have been removed for easier reading.