How To Dance Waltz

Back in the 1600s Waltz was a country folk dance both in Bavaria and Austria, where it originated. Knowledge of this dance later spread to England in the 1800s. It should be noted that this is the first dance where the man was allowed to hold a woman’s hand and hold her close to his body.


Note that you should maintain good posture when you dance the waltz. This forms the other half of this dance step. Some would even say that your posture when you dance the waltz defines who the pros are and who the amateurs are.

Beginners often slump when they dance so avoid doing that. Keep your back straight all the time and try some body isolation as you move your feet in this dance. When you raise your arms to hold your partner (the left hand of the man grasping the woman’s right hand and his right hand holding level to the woman’s left shoulder blade, the woman also using her left hand holding or placing the hand over the man’s right bicep).

When you lift your arms make sure to lift them as parallel to the floor as you can. Your shoulders should not be drooping – that means you will have to lift them as you stand in basic position. Note that the elbows and also the frame of both dancers should be lifted as well. Maintain this position so that you will maintain an elegant top all throughout the dance.

Usual mistakes committed by beginners include crunching the body and drooping the shoulders while dancing. The right side of the man should be positioned close to the woman’s left side while his left side is a bit further to the woman’s body. This posture isn’t really that hard but it will take some practice and a bit of discipline. Think of it as keeping your body at attention.

Box Step

The basic step of the waltz is described here. The steps are also called the box step. It is called the “box step” simply because of the pattern that the feet make when the steps are executed – they form a box on the floor. This is the very foundation of the waltz.

The box step has two fundamental parts: the forward half box, which you will be making first, and the backward half box or the part of the box behind. A half box has three steps:

1.Step forward (or backward that is if you are the female dance partner or follower).
2.Step to the side.
3.Finally, a close where both feet are together.

The leader will take a step forward starting with the left foot and executing the steps of the forward half box (also called top of the box). He will then execute the steps for the backward half box (also called the bottom of the box). The follower will be doing the opposite of the steps performed by the leader. This means that she will start by doing the steps for the backward half box first and then followed by the steps in the forward half box.

The step pattern used in Waltz has three counts – well that is for the basic step pattern of course. The timing is usually called out as 1, 2, 3, 1, 2, 3. Others will use 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. At the end of the counting, you should have performed both the forward box and the backward box.

As you may have already observed, one dancer plays the role of leader while the other dancer plays the role of follower. People often say that men lead in waltz and the women follow.

Here are the steps used in waltz. Let us begin with the steps for the men. Note that the steps described here are only basic. Note that waltz really has no definitive “basic” steps per se but the steps described below are the usual steps used to introduce beginners to this ballroom dance.

Steps for the Top of the Box

1. Imagine a small box around you. Take a step forward with your left foot and landing it on the top left corner of the box.
2.Take a step with your right foot taking a step to the side (i.e. the imaginary upper right-hand corner of the box). In this step you should be standing feet apart.
3. Bring your left foot next to your right foot (feet together).

And that completes the steps for the forward box or top of the box.

Steps for the Bottom of the Box

1. Begin with a backward step with your right foot (foot landing at the lower right corner of the box).
2. Take a step with your left foot stepping to the side (foot landing on the lower left corner of the box).
3. Finally, put both feet together by stepping with your right foot bringing it right next to the left foot.

Remember that as the man executes the steps for the top of the box the woman will execute the steps for the bottom of the box. This covers the first 1, 2, 3 count in waltz. After that, they change roles. The man or leader will perform the steps for the bottom of the box and the follower or woman will perform the steps for the top of the box.

Rise and Fall

There is a rise and fall motion when you take the steps in waltz, which makes it elegant and quite unique. While stepping forward the weight should be on the heel and then it should be transferred to the ball of the foot. You should have a slight rise on your toes during the first beat, which is when you count 1, 2. You should then be lowering back to the normal position by the count of 3. Note that the heel of the foot should be lowered.

Note that these are only the basic steps of the waltz.

Bonus Video

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