Viennese Waltz (German: Wiener Walzer ) is
the name 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, dances 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
Today the Viennese Waltz is a ballroom and
partner dance that is part of the International Standard division of
contemporary ballroom dance.
Listen to some of the loveliest waltzes
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. 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), while Johann Strauß himself was called the "Napoleon Autrichien"
(Heinrich Laube, poet from the north of Germany).