There are several references to a sliding or gliding dance,- a waltz, from the 16th century including the representations of the printer H.S. Beheim. The French philosopher Montaigne wrote of a dance he saw in 1580 in Augsburg, where the dancers held each other so closely that their faces touched. Kunz Haas, of approximately the same period wrote that, "Now they are dancing the godless, Weller or Spinner." "The vigorous peasant dancer, following an instinctive knowledge of the weight of fall, utilizes his surplus energy to press all his strength into the proper beat of the measure, thus intensifying his personal enjoyment in dancing". The wide, wild steps of the country people became shorter and more elegant when introduced to higher society. Hans Sachs wrote of the dance in his 1568 Eygentliche Beschreibung aller Stände (1568). At the Austrian Court in Vienna in the late 17th century (1698) ladies were conducted around the room to the tune of a 2-beat measure, which then became the 3/4 of the Nach Tanz (After Dance), upon which couples got into the position for the Weller and waltzed around the room with gliding steps as in an engraving of the Wirtschaft (Inn Festival) given for Peter the Great. 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. In the 1771 German novel Geschichte des Fräuleins von Sternheim by Sophie von La Roche, a high-minded character complains about the newly introduced waltz among aristocrats thus: "But when he put his arm around her, pressed her to his breast, cavorted with her in the shameless, indecent whirling-dance of the Germans and engaged in a familiarity that broke all the bounds of good breeding—then my silent misery turned into burning rage."
Posture and position
Your bodies should form a “V”, with feet very close together, in between partner's feet. The Woman's left arm should rest on the Man's right arm. Man's hand and wrist should be as flat as possible near upper center of partner's back. This is extremely important, as this connection is where the Man or leader signals his lead.
Measures of music
Each waltz step uses one three-count measure of music (1, 2, 3), but try to think in terms of 6 — two measures. Man begins on left foot, Woman on right. These are referred to as the “first foot”. So two measures would be counted: 1 (first foot), 2, 3; 2 (second foot), 2, 3.
Ideally, one complete rotation is accomplished in two measures or two waltz steps. After the end of the second waltz step, you are facing the direction you were before you began turning, with the Man facing towards LOD (line of dance). Step into partner's place as you turn. Man's first step is around partner; on the second step, Woman steps around partner. Turn with confidence. It's important to give weight and support when turning. If it's too hard to do a full rotation in two waltz steps, try breaking it down into quarter turns, thus taking four waltz steps for the complete rotation.
It's important, when turning, for each to give weight. When moving straight, Woman can give weight by making sure she is leaning into partner's right hand (without making him “carry” her). It's okay to ask verbally for weight, if you need to.
Most of the waltzes played at contra dances or elsewhere are written in eight-bar (measure) phrases. Most of the choreography shown here is done in groups of eight measures or eight waltz steps, so that a move can be begun and completed in one or maybe two eight-bar phrases.
Open position is with Man's arm...
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