Viennese Waltz is a dance with distinct heights and depths. The dance couple swings like a pendulum in fast, room grasping steps and rotating turns. New momentum emerges in the first step. The room grasping second step carries out the main parts of the rotation while in the third step the closing of the feet catches the movement and moves on into the start of the next tact.
Viennese Waltz is danced in 3/4-time. A Viennese Waltz can be danced between 50 and 60 beats per minute, in tournaments 60 beats per minute are played.
Past and Present
Viennese Waltz has its seeds in an old folk dance, cultivated in the Alps region. Its name is traced back to the German term "waltzen" and relates to the rotating movements of feet dragging across the floor. Together with its predecessors, Viennese Waltz can be traced back into 12th/13th century, the time of minstrels. The very beginnings of Viennese Waltz can be seen in the German "Springtanz".
Most of the dance historians see the beginnings of Viennese Waltz in the old "Dreher" or "Ländler", danced from 16th century on. In Southern Germany and in Austria it has been danced without a dancing master. Viennese Waltz has been a round dance in 3/4- or 3/8-time, at which the couples put their arms around each other and turned theirselves, circling around an imaginary centre. This slow dance has been danced up to the beginning of the 20th century, up and down the country.
A second source sees the beginnings of Viennese Waltz in the so called "Langaus", a dance, couples had to cross a very long room with least turns. But the administration, until the 18th century continuously tried to put a stop to this dance. They made it punishable twisting and swirling, tossing and turning or knocking over the dancing partner.
Around 1750 the term "walzen", as dancing mode, is used in a Viennese impromptu comedy. In 1770 Johann Wolfgang von Goethe reports on his experiences with the "German dance", and in 1782 Carl von Zwangen published the book "Etwas über das Walzen". Four persons caused a stir in 1787 dancing the first waltz in the Italian opera "Una cosa rara", certainly it is questionable if this has been the creation of Viennese Waltz. From 1794 Viennese Waltz was taught at Prussian royal court. Already, the future queen Luise von Preussen was not exactly thrilled and banned it (in Berlin this prohibition was valid until 1918). But, in Munich it was played and danced. Viennese Waltz had its triumph after the Viennese Congress in 1815. This mainly had to be contributed to the thrilling tunes of Lanner and the Strauss dynasty.
Germany has been the centre of Waltz up to the twenties, then for more than a decade waltz was replaced by modern dynamic dance styles. In Great Britain Viennese Waltz has never been popular. As a folk dance, Viennese Waltz was rediscovered in the thirties, and over all during the Third Reich in Germany and Austria. It was the merit of the Nuremberg dancing instructor Paul Krebs, that after World War II in 1951 the connection of Austrian Waltz tradition and English style was made, and Viennese Waltz was accepted as Standard Dance having equal rights.