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Jenny and Toby


American Style Smooth

Until the 18th century, dance was strictly divided between courtly and country forms. In the courts, dances like the Minuet were refined affairs with anelaborate language of bows and curtsies. There was little physical contact between dancers, and proper form, like turned-out feet, was considered essential.

Everything changed with the Waltz. Born of a German and Austrian peasant dance called the Landler, the Waltz was the first widely popular dance to feature a closed position. The speed of the Waltz required intimate physical communication between dance partners; for this reason it was denounced in every nation as scandalous and immoral. "We feel it a duty to warn every parent against exposing his daughter to so fatal a contagion," sermonized The Times of London in 1816.

Although some variations on the basic dance like the "Boston" were briefly popular in the U.S., the Waltz was ultimately standardized with the box pattern and the hold we know today. The Waltz dominated much of the dance scene right until the First World War, when the Tango end Foxtrot enraptured a whole new generation.

Three types of Waltzes are commonly taught in ballrooms: American style, which you will learn in this class, International style, which is mostly for competition, and Viennese Waltz, a very fast dance with numerous turns. All variations progress along the line of dance.

The Waltz is characterized by rise and-fall and by sway on side steps but the foot remains in contact with the floor at all times. A good frame is essential to maintaining balance and control. The Waltz is in 3/4 time, at about 32 bars per minute. Much of the music owes a debt to 19th century composer Johann Strauss.

Dance histories supplied by Diane Jarmolow of the Ballroom Dance Teachers College and reprinted with permission.