How To Dance Viennese Waltz

Viennese Waltz is actually the original waltz. Sometimes people refer to it as the classic waltz. Do you remember the waltz that is usually danced in the movies especially in the old films? Yes, that is the Viennese Waltz. The dance that we call today as the Waltz (i.e. the one that was described in the previous chapter) is actually English Waltz or Slow Waltz.

Origin of Viennese Waltz

Viennese Waltz is of Central European origin. It traces its roots from the Austrian folk dance which was known as Landler. It was introduced in Vienna in the 1800s. It gained popularity in Europe and eventually found its way to America. One of the things that made this dance popular is the music of Johann Strauss.

The Original Waltz

Viennese waltz take on a more glamorous appeal, which is why they feature it in the movies. You see it a lot in Disney animated films where the prince and the princess dance while holding hands. Imagine dancing in a palace or in glamorous balls all over Europe.

Unlike the Waltz steps that were described in the previous chapter, Viennese Waltz will make you go revolving gracefully all over the dance floor. You can say that this is a step upward and forward in your skills as a newcomer to ballroom dancing.

This dance also takes on a much faster pace compared to the usual slow waltz. Now, even though we will be discussing the simplified beginner version, the steps described here can be a bit challenging especially to those haven’t done any dancing ever.

Starting Position

The Viennese Waltz starting position is the same waltz standard position. The man will have his back facing the center of the dance floor. His left arm will be extended following the line of dance (LOD). He will be holding the woman’s right hand with his left hand. His right hand will be placed beneath the woman’s left arm gently holder her on the left shoulder blade. The woman will be holding the man’s right shoulder (or bicep if she can’t reach the shoulder) with her right hand.

Remember to maintain an upright posture while dancing the Viennese Waltz. The man’s left foot should be slightly in between the woman’s feet as they stand face to face to each other. Both dancers should have their feet at shoulder width apart.

Dance Steps

1st step

The man leads the woman. He begins by stepping out using his left foot (left foot forward). At the same time he rotates to his right. The woman on the other hand steps with her right foot placing it in front of its starting position earlier. She also turns toward the right in the process. Note that the man should take small steps as longer steps will make it more difficult. If you can maintain the length of the step at only shoulder width then that will be great. The distance of each step should depend on the height of your partner and your own dancing skill level.

2nd step

The man will then turn clockwise and then turn the right foot backward. This will allow him to revolve around the woman. The man should rise on the right foot and then fall after the third step (the natural rise and fall in waltz). The woman should rise on the ball of their left foot and fall or go back to natural stance at the right foot at the third step. Note that the step that the man will make takes him to a full 180 degrees. He will end up facing the center of the dance floor. The toes of the right foot should be behind the left heel. The woman on the other hand should begin with her left foot stepping in front of her right and continuing to turn to the right.

3rd step

The third step has the man rotating the left foot so as to bring it to square. He will be pointing it to the center of the floor. The woman on the other hand will step her right foot parallel to her left foot. Both dancers should lower onto flat feet on the floor. The man’s weight should be on the left foot while the woman’s weight should be on the right foot.

At this point, you should notice that the man and the woman have changed position since they have made a 180-degree turn. Now here’s an important point: the leader should make it a point to achieve a full half turn with each set of steps performed. This concludes the first set of steps in Viennese Waltz.

4th step

The following steps starting with this one belongs to the second set of steps in this dance. The man will first take a step with his right foot rotating to the right. Mirroring that step the woman will take a step with her left foot going around. Note that she takes a longer step than the man. If you observe properly, the steps that the woman is making is the same step that the man was taking during the first set of steps – it would be as if the man and woman have switched roles.

5th step

In the next step, the man continues with a step with the left foot. He will then step in a small semi-circle as he turns to the right. The woman on the other hand sweeps her right foot backward and she turns to the right. Since the man is leading, it is his job to watch out for obstructions along their line of dance. You don’t want to bump into other dancers whilst rotating in such a fast pace.

6th step

Finally both dancers bring both of their feet back to starting position now at the center of the dance floor. Note that their extended arms (i.e. the man’s left arm and the woman’s right arm) should be extended along the LOD. This position prepares them for another turn.

Bonus Video

Interested in other dance styles:

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Ballroom dance styles

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Basic dance vocabulary


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