AskDefine | Define waltz

Dictionary Definition



1 an assured victory (especially in an election) [syn: walk-in]
2 music composed in triple time for waltzing
3 a ballroom dance in triple time with a strong accent on the first beat [syn: valse] v : dance a waltz [syn: waltz around]

User Contributed Dictionary



etyl de Waltzer, from walzen, from etyl goh walzan, from , from .


  1. a ballroom dance in 3/4 time
  2. a piece of music for this dance (or in triple time)
  3. a simple task


a ballroom dance


  1. to dance the waltz (with someone)
  2. to accomplish a task with little effort
  3. to move (or move someone) briskly and unhesitatingly


to dance

Related terms

Extensive Definition

The waltz is a ballroom and folk dance in time, performed primarily in closed position.


The peasants of Bavaria, Tyrol, and Styria began dancing a dance called Walzer, a dance for couples, around 1750. The Ländler, also known as the Schleifer, a country dance in 3/4 time, was popular in Bohemia, Austria, and Bavaria, and spread from the countryside to the suburbs of the city. While the eighteenth century upper classes continued to dance the minuet, bored noblemen slipped away to the balls of their servants.
Describing life in Vienna (dated at either 1776 or 1786 ), Don Curzio wrote, " The people were dancing mad. ... The ladies of Vienna are particularly celebrated for their grace and movements of waltzing of which they never tire." There is a waltz in the second act finale of the opera "Una Cosa Rara" written by Martin y Solar in 1786. Solar's waltz was marked Andante con moto, or "at a walking pace with motion”, but the character of the dance was speeded up in Vienna leading to the Geschwindwalzer, and the Galloppwalzer.
In the transition from country to town, the hopping of the Ländler, a the dance known as Langaus, became a sliding step, and gliding rotation replaced stamping rotation..
In the 19th century the word primarily indicated that the dance was a turning one; one would "waltz" in the polka to indicate rotating rather than going straight forward without turning.
The Vienese custom is to slightly anticipate the second beat, which conveys a faster, lighter rhythm, and also breaks of the phrase. The younger Strauss would sometimes break up the one-two-three of the melody with a one-two pattern in the accompaniment along with other rhythms, maintaining the 3/4 time while causing the dancers to dance a two-step waltz. The metronome speed for a full bar varies between 60 and 70, with the waltzes of the first Strauss often played faster than those of his sons.
Shocking many when it was first introduced, the waltz became fashionable in Vienna around the 1780s, spreading to many other countries in the years to follow. The waltz, and especially its closed position, became the example for the creation of many other ballroom dances. Subsequently, new types of waltz have developed, including many folk and several ballroom dances.

Styles of waltz

In the 19th and early 20th century, numerous different forms of waltz existed, including versions done in 2/4 or 6/8 (sauteuse), and 5/4 time (5/4 waltz, half and half).
In the 1910s, a form called the "Hesitation Waltz" was introduced by Vernon and Irene Castle. It incorporated Hesitations and was danced to fast music. A Hesitation is basically a halt on the standing foot during the full waltz measure, with the moving foot suspended in the air or slowly dragged. Similar figures (Hesitation Change, Drag Hesitation, Cross Hesitation) are incorporated in the International Standard Waltz syllabus
  • The American Style Waltz, in contrast to the International Standard Waltz, involves breaking contact almost entirely in some figures. For example, the Syncopated Side-by-Side with Spin includes a free spin for both partners. Open rolls are another good example of an open dance figure, in which the follower alternates between the lead's left and right sides, with the lead's left or right arm (alone) providing the lead. Waltzes were the staple of many American musicals and films, including "Waltz in Swing Time" sung by Fred Astaire.
  • The Cross Step Waltz is a newer style of waltz where the first step is a cross-step into the line of direction. This was popularized in classes at Stanford University and allows for a much richer assortment of variations.
  • The Mexican Waltz (vals mexicano) follows the same basic rhythmic pattern as the standard waltz, but the melodies reflect a strong Spanish influence.
  • Tango vals allows the dancers to dance one, two, three, or no steps to any four beats of waltz music; and to vary the number of steps per bar throughout the song.
  • Country Western Waltz is 99% progressive, moving counter clock wise around the dance floor. Both the posture and frame are relaxed, with posture bordering on a slouch. The exaggerated hand and arm gestures of some ballroom styles are not part of this style. Couples may frequently dance in the promenade position, depending on local preferences.
waltz in Czech: Waltz
waltz in Danish: Vals
waltz in German: Walzer (Musik)
waltz in Estonian: Valss
waltz in Spanish: Vals (baile)
waltz in Esperanto: Valso
waltz in French: Valse
waltz in Friulian: Valzer
waltz in Croatian: Engleski valcer
waltz in Italian: Valzer
waltz in Lithuanian: Valsas
waltz in Dutch: Wals (muziek)
waltz in Japanese: ワルツ (ダンス)
waltz in Norwegian: Vals
waltz in Norwegian Nynorsk: Vals
waltz in Polish: Walc
waltz in Portuguese: Valsa
waltz in Russian: Вальс
waltz in Serbian: Валцер
waltz in Finnish: Valssi
waltz in Swedish: Vals (dans)
waltz in Tagalog: Balse
waltz in Vietnamese: Waltz
waltz in Turkish: Vals
waltz in Chinese: 圓舞曲
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