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Round Dance Tips by Tim Eum—


The Waltz is among the oldest of the dance rhythms. It began among the peasants of Europe at least as early as the 1500s. The waltz was the first dance to use the closed position for any extended period of time, and that, coupled with its “wild” turning and other actions, kept it from the “gentry” for a long time. But by the early 1800s, the dance had taken hold in Vienna and composers such as Mozart and Josef and Johann Strauss made the “Waltzen” even more popular. It was just too much fun to remain widely condemned. It spread throughout Europe and was brought to English ballrooms around 1816. By 1825, the Waltz became known as the “Queen of the Ballroom”. In America, the Waltz was first exhibited in Boston in 1834. Later the tempo was slowed and the dance evolved with more elaborate figures fitting the slower tempo.

The waltz is done to music that has three beats in each measure. It is the “Oom pah pah” or “1, 2, 3” rhythm. It characteristically is danced with “rise and fall” where generally you lower on step one, begin to rise on step two, rise to full height by the middle of step three and begin lowering by the end of step three. The waltz is a “smooth, flowing, graceful, and traveling” dance, and thus the couple will move quite a ways around the dance floor. The waltz is the only rhythm in Round Dancing that has defined figures in all six phases.

A Few Figures --

BALANCE LEFT & RIGHT – Don’t “pop” up and down.

A common error is to rise too quickly and lower too quickly instead of doing so smoothly in a flowing manner.

FORWARD WALTZ – Step diagonally side on step 2.

Don’t simply go forward three steps. Take a long low forward step, then start to rise while stepping diagonally on two, and finally close on step three.

THRU CHASSE – Syncopate the 2nd and 3rd steps.

Begin in semi-closed position (SCP) and end in either banjo (BJO) or SCP; the cuer should tell you which. In either case, the first step is with the trail foot (man’s right and lady’s left) coming through in SCP and taking weight. Then you do the chasse (side/close, side). According to Roundalab the timing for Foxtrot is SQ&Q (slow,,quick/and, quick;) and the timing for Waltz is 1,2&,3. However, you can make this figure more elegant by rushing the side close and for a moment “hover” before taking the last step. The timing thus becomes Sa, Sa in Foxtrot and 1,a2, 3 in Waltz. This hovering action adds a nice feel to what would otherwise be a routine sideways movement. It also helps to emphasize the rise and fall within the figure especially for Waltz.

OUTSIDE CHECK – Don’t turn much.

Start in closed position or SCAR with the trail foot free. In 3 steps (back, side, cross in front checking), end in contra BJO (use contra-body movement). Don’t turn more than about 1/8 LF turn.

JETE POINT – Spring forward then lower and point trail foot to side. Look toward trail foot.

There is only one weight change. The difficulty is to do this spring action quickly and still keep close to partner.

LINK TO PROMENADE – Man doesn’t turn.

Start in BJO, then step forward, brush, step forward (lady turn) to SCP.

Tim Eum originally prepared these Tips for Calls 'n' Cues, (WASCA); reprinted in the Dixie Round Dance Council (DRDC) Newsletter, March and April 2011.


If you would like to read other articles on dance position, technique, styling, and specific dance rhythms, you may visit the article TOC.

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