History of Dances

International Style Waltz

In the early 19th Century, the "Waltzen" became popular through many parts of Germany and Austria, with the local variants being called by the name of the area in which they were danced. The form from "Landl ob der Enns" in upper Austria became very popular, and became known by the abbreviated name of the 'Landler' (Sadie, 1980, 10/435).

Initially the Landler was danced in heavy shoes, and had animated hopping, slapping and stamping steps, with complex underarm turns. However, by 1800 the Landler was described as being done with lighter shoes, and having the same quick gliding rotating movements steps as the Waltzen but done to a slower tempo (Sadie, 1980, 20/200).

A more sedate form of the fast Viennese Waltz, danced at a leisurely 90 beats per minute, also evolved in America around 1870 known originally as the "Boston" (Chujoy, 1967,958). This version of the Waltz retained the characteristic turning figures and added others such as a dip, and was danced with the partners holding their hands on each others hips. The Boston also had the distinction of being the first ballroom dance to be done with feet parallel (rather than turned out, as in ballet) (Sadie, 1980, 3/87).

The present form of the dance has been variously described as being derived around 1910 in England both from the Landler (Norton, 1994, 12/482) and from the Boston (Sadie, 1980, 20/200). Either way, there: the dancers began taking advantage of the slower tempo to add more figures, some with extra syncopated beats, some with slow "picture" steps. These give the dance light and shade, and make it more interesting to perform and to watch.