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The History of the Waltz

The forerunner of today's waltz was a dance called The Boston, created in the United States in the 1870's. Interestingly, couples danced the Boston side by side, not in today's partner position. (At the time, the dance was quite radical. Lorenzo Papanti, a Boston dance master, gave an exhibition and was roundly condemned.) In 1921 the basic movement was a forward moving:  Step Forward, Step Forward, Close, but in the mid to late 20's the basic step was changed to the currently recognized Box step:  Step Forward, Side, Close. The Waltz emerges today in two accepted forms, both reflecting the main characteristics of the dance. They are the Modern Waltz and the Viennese or Quick Waltz.

The weller, or turning dances, were probably first danced by peasants in Austria and Bavaria in the Sixteenth or early Seventeenth centuries. However, an article appearing in the Parisian magazine "La Patrie"(The Fatherland) on January 17, 1882, claimed that the waltz was first danced in Paris in the year 1178, called the "Volta" and was from the Provence. Presumably this was a dance done in a 3/4 rhythm, and as the waltz is the only dance done to that meter, there may be a historically valid point.

The first formal social Waltzes were in the ballrooms of the Hapsburg court, but familiar waltz tunes can be traced back to simple Austrian peasant yodeling melodies.

Waltz - Page 2
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