Viennese Waltz

April 17th, 2010

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, although the Volta has also been claimed to be an Italian folk dance. The word “volta” means “the turn” in Italian. So 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. In order to do this, the hold was such a close embrace that many declared it immoral. Louis XIII (1601-1643) had it banned from court for this reason.
In 1754 the first music for the actual “Waltzen” appeared in Germany. The connection between the Waltzen and the Volta remains unclear, but 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 and caused a great sensation. Through the 19th Century, the dance stabilised, and was made even more popular by the music of Josef and Johann Strauss.
Currently, the Viennese Waltz is danced at a tempo of about 180 beats per minute; making it one of the fastest Ballroom dances, but very much enjoyed by Marie-Louise and Garreth. It’s elegant, romantic and graceful.

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