Viennese Waltz

Viennese Waltz (German: Wiener Walzer) is the genre of a ballroom dance. At least three different meanings are recognized. In the historically first sense, the name may refer to several versions of the waltz, including the earliest waltzes done in ballroom dancing, danced to the music of Viennese Waltz.

What is now called the Viennese waltz is the original form of the waltz and the first ballroom dance in the closed hold or "waltz" position. The dance that is popularly known as the Waltz is actually the English or slow waltz, danced approximately at 90 beats per minute with 3 beats to the bar (the international standard of 30 measures per minute) while the Viennese Waltz is danced at about 180 beats (58-60 measures) a minute. To this day however, in Germany, Austria and France, the words "Walzer" (German for "waltz") and "valse" (French for "waltz") still implicitly refers to the original dance and not the slow waltz.

The Viennese Waltz is a rotary dance where the dancers are constantly turning either in a clockwise (natural) or anti-clockwise (reverse) direction interspersed with non-rotating change steps to switch between the direction of rotation. A true Viennese waltz consists only of turns and change steps. Other moves such as the fleckerls, American-style figures and side sway or underarm turns are modern inventions and are not normally danced at the annual balls in Vienna. Furthermore, in a properly danced Viennese Waltz, couples do not pass, but turn continuously left and right while travelling counterclockwise around the floor following each other.
As the Waltz evolved, some of the versions that were done at about the original fast tempo came to be called specifically "Viennese Waltz" to distinguish them from the slower waltzes. In the modern ballroom dance, two versions of Viennese Waltz are recognized: International Style and American Style.

Today the Viennese Waltz is a ballroom and partner dance that is part of the International Standard division of contemporary ballroom dance.

History

The Viennese Waltz, so called to distinguish it from the Waltz and the French Waltz, is the oldest of all ballroom dances. It emerged in the second half of the 18th century from the German dance and the Ländler in Austria and in the beginning was disapproved-of on account of its "lasciviousness", e.g. because the ladies' ankles were visible. Later it gained official acceptance and even popularity due to the Congress of Vienna at the beginning of the 19th century and the famous compositions by Josef Lanner, Johann Strauss I and his son, Johann Strauss II.

In the 1920s in Germany the Viennese Waltz became outdated as more modern and dynamic dances emerged. In England the Viennese Waltz acclimatized, there Boston and later Waltz were preferred.

At the beginning of the 1930s the Viennese Waltz had its comeback as a folk dance in Germany and Austria. The former military officer Karl von Mirkowitsch made it acceptable both for society and ballroom, since 1932 the Viennese Waltz has been present on ballroom dance floors. About the same time, the Viennese Waltz had its comeback also as a (folk dance) in The Greater Cleveland Ohio U.S.A. Area. It was because the greatest number of Slovenians (60,000 - 80,000) settled in that area. Slovenia, being right below Vienna Austria, was influenced in their folk dance by the Viennese Waltz. Frankie Yankovic, Slovenian from Cleveland Ohio traveled the world playing his version ("Cleveland Style" as per Polka Hall of Fame, Euclid Ohio)of the Viennese Waltzes. His Blue Skirt Waltz went Platinum 1949. Even in 2007, there are several opportunities to waltz each week in The Greater Cleveland Area. In 1951 Paul Krebs, a dance teacher from Nürnberg, combined the traditional Austrian Waltz with the English style of waltzing and had great success at the dance festival in Blackpool in the same year. Since then the Viennese Waltz is considered a full privilege member of the International Standard ballroom dances; in 1963 it was added to the Welttanzprogramm which is the fundament of European dancing schools.
The Viennese Waltz has always been symbol of political and public sentiments. It was called the "Marseillaise of the heart" (Eduard Hanslick, a critic from Vienna in the past century) and was supposed to "have saved Vienna the revolution" (sentence of a biographer of the composer Johann Strauss I), while Strauss I himself was called the "Napoleon Autrichien" (Heinrich Laube, poet from the north of Germany).

Technique and styles

Musical Form
Fast triple time (usually 3/4 time) - as opposed to typical waltzes which can be between 60-90 beats per minute, Viennese Waltz music (such as the well-known "On the Beautiful Blue Danube" by Johann Strauss Junior) is typically in the range of 120-180 bpm.
Slow harmonic pace - same chord is used throughout a whole bar and usually repeated for several bars.
Simple Harmonies - occasionally uses chromatic or dissonant appoggiaturas.
Homophonic texture
"Um-Cha-Cha" accompaniment - bass note on first beat then other notes on second and third.
Ternary form ABA style - Waltz 1-Waltz 2-Waltz 1
Vamp base - the first beat of one bar is the key note, and in the following bar it is the dominant note. This pattern continues until the chord changes. This only occurs in some waltzes.

International Style Viennese Waltz
International Style Viennese Waltz is danced in closed position. The syllabus is limited to Natural and Reverse Turns, Changes, Fleckerls, Contra Check, Left Whisk, and canter time Pivots (Canter Pivots).

American Style Viennese Waltz
American Style Viennese Waltz has much more freedom, both in dance positions and syllabus.

Related Classes: Slow Waltz, Foxtrot, Tango, Argentine Tango, Quickstep
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