Few sights are as romantic as that of a couple, absorbed in each other, sweeping across the floor in a dreamy waltz. It is certainly the highlight of many a fairy tale and even Jane Austen allows her couples ample time on the dance floor. While the English Country Dance is most associated with Jane Austen’s novels, many will be surprised to discover that by the early 1800’s the waltz had also made it’s way across the channel and was being danced by the more progressive of the Beau Monde. By 1814, the waltz, originally considered decadent, was finally sanctioned as appropriate behaviour at the ultra fashionable Almacks, though the patronesses there still kept a firm hand on who was allowed permission to dance “the godless…Spinner”. No debutante could waltz unless one of the patronesses had given her permission, something that was only granted to girls “whose deportment was considered impeccable.”*
The following easy to follow tips and instructional video are provided by Wikihow.
- Find a song that is a slow 3/4 song because anything faster would be a different type of waltz, with different set of guidelines. Though you can keep the basic waltz steps and apply it across different genres.
- Learn the basic handhold (“frame”). The right hand of the man will be on the woman’s shoulder blade, rarely the waist or under her armpit. The lady’s left hand is on the partner’s shoulder or upper arm.
- Girls, mirror what your partner does. But that’s only for the beginning. If you are trying to learn it and become a competitive dancer, you need a real coach.
- After the dance, if both partners are comfortable with it, give each other a hug. After all, it is a close position dance. Nothing better to finish it off with a close embrace. The traditional ending, especially for someone you are not close with, would be a simple “thank you for the dance.”
Many classical composers have written waltzes, including:
- The Strauss family—notably Johann Strauss Senior and Junior, the latter being composer of the famous The Blue Danube, were perhaps the most famous of all waltz composers. Joseph and Eduard Strauss also wrote many waltzes.
- Josef Lanner composed many Viennese-style waltzes.
- Joseph Haydn composed classical waltzes.
- Ludwig van Beethoven’s Diabelli Variations are based on a simple waltz by Anton Diabelli.
- Frédéric Chopin’s waltzes for the piano are well known, among them the Minute Waltz.
- Jean Sibelius’s orchestral Valse triste is an unusually slow, even morbid example of a waltz for full orchestra.
- Maurice Ravel’s Valses nobles et sentimentales (originally for piano, but arranged by Ravel for orchestra) and orchestral La Valse are well known.
- Ion Ivanovici, who created the famous waltz The Waves of the Danube
- Impressionistic composer Claude Debussy’s Valse Romantique is an example of a post-Romantic waltz though, as characterised by this period of music, the work contains so many rhythmic changes and rubato that it is barely considered a waltz.
- Many other 20th century composers have composed waltzes, including Shostakovich, Khachaturian, Rimsky-Korsakov, and Stravinsky.
Composers who wrote waltzes during Jane Austen’s lifetime include Joseph Hayden, Ludwig Von Beethovan and Franz schubert.
Waltz instructions courtesy of Wikihow.com: The How To Manual that You can Edit. Additional information(*) from An Elegant Madness: High Society in Regency England by Venetia Murray.