My Fascination with the History of Slow Waltz

Slow waltz, also affectionately known as the «English waltz,» is a dance close to my heart. Let’s take a journey back in time to explore the enchanting story of this graceful dance style.

The Origins:

Imagine yourself in the late 18th century, surrounded by the traditional folk dances of Austria and Bavaria. These early waltzes were vibrant and spirited, with couples spinning and twirling to the rhythm of life. The very word «waltz» whispers in your ear, stemming from the German term «walzen,» meaning «to turn.»

The Transformation:

As the 19th century dawned, the waltz started its transformation. In the elegant Viennese courts, it became a dance of refinement, adopting a slower tempo and more fluid movements. The slow waltz, as we know it today, was born.

English Influence:

England played a pivotal role in shaping the slow waltz. During the Victorian era, it found its home in the hearts of the English. Dance teachers in England formalized the style, crafting specific rules and techniques to set it apart from its livelier counterpart, the Viennese Waltz.

Two Waltzes, Two Styles:

By the mid-19th century, there were two distinct waltz styles. The Viennese Waltz retained its vivacity, while the slow waltz embraced a more unhurried tempo, allowing for graceful, flowing movements.

Elegant 3/4 Time Signature:

Dancing to the slow waltz’s 3/4 time signature feels like a gentle embrace. The music pulses with three beats in each measure, allowing us to sway and twirl to a tempo of about 28-30 bars per minute. It’s as if time itself slows down, inviting us to immerse ourselves in the dance’s grace.

Romantic and Classic:

The slow waltz embodies a romance and classical charm that’s hard to resist. It’s the dance of choice for couples on their most special occasions, like weddings and anniversaries. The emotional melodies that accompany the dance add an extra layer of magic to the moment.

Global Recognition:

In the 20th century, the slow waltz gained worldwide acclaim, becoming one of the five standard ballroom dances in international competitive ballroom dancing. Joining the ranks of the Viennese Waltz, tango, foxtrot, and quickstep, it’s cherished for its elegance and dignified movements.

Today, the slow waltz remains close to our hearts, a symbol of grace and timelessness. Dancers and enthusiasts worldwide continue to be captivated by its enduring beauty and the rich history that brought this exquisite dance to life. So, the next time you witness a couple gracefully waltzing across the dance floor, remember the enchanting journey that led to this timeless and elegant dance style.

Have a look on a video to see what a ballroom slow waltz danced by professionals looks like:

World Professional Ballroom Championship. Slow Waltz
Ewa Trela

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