by Harold & Meredith Sears
3 beats/measure, 28-35 measures/minute
The origins of the Waltz go back hundreds of years. The rhythm came to Vienna in the early 1800s, and the Viennese Waltz was first exhibited in America in 1834 in Boston. Especially at the beginning of the 20th century the slower Modern Waltz, danced at about half the original tempo, developed along with the Viennese Waltz. The Modern Waltz is smoother, less frantic, and more varied. We turn left, then right. We dance forward and back, we pause, and we can spend a measure or more developing this or that "picture" figure. Perhaps the most consistent feature of today's waltz is the pronounced, controlled, wave-like rise and fall as we progress around the floor.
The first beat of each measure is a heavily accented "downbeat." The music then rises to a crescendo through upbeats 2 and 3. At the end of beat 3, the music falls again. The dancer feels this swelling and contracting in each measure. We rise and stretch with the music. One dancer described the feel of waltz music as "BOOM, cha, cha." I don't know about the "cha-cha," but beat one certainly is dominant.
Lower in the knee at the end of beat 3. Many figures end with a closing step that helps accentuate this "fall" (compare to the passing steps in foxtrot that keep you up more of the time). Stay down through count 1 with a heel lead, rise during 2, and stay up into 3: down, up, up; down, up, up. Often, we stretch count 2, borrowing a little time from 1 and/or 3, delaying and extending the rise, "milking" the body flight, smoothing out the turn of the figure. There is strong body sway toward the center of the turns.