3 thoughts on “The History of the Waltz

  1. The waltz mentioned in Emma, is almost certainly to have still been an English Country Dance set to Waltz music. These were danced in the usual longways set formation but to waltz music (from around 1790 onwards), and that is why it says “led her up to the top” of the set. Regency Couple Waltzing was done in a circle – couples usually turning clockwise together and moving anticlockwise with the other dancers, thus avoiding colliding (hopefully), so be would not ‘lead to the top’.
    From around 1816 Dancing Masters such as Wilson started to mix a bit of Couple Waltzing into longways English Country Dances, in an effort to make it more acceptable, but Jane Austen was unlikely to have known this when she wrote Emma.
    In her letters, Jane Austen mentions the acceptable Quadrille dancing (music), which came in around the same time as Couple Waltzing, but does not mention Quadrilles in her books. As she does not mention Couple Waltzing in her letters, it is unlikely she had heard of it, as infiltration from London to the Provinces was slow anyway, and likely to have been hampered further by the scandalous nature of Waltzing —until 1814/15 (when the foreign leaders danced openly with members of the English ton, in London, as part of the premature and actual Napoleonic War Peace celebrations) it was only really danced at private parties.

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