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At our Arthur Murray New Jersey studios, we teach all kids of dances. Whether you want to waltz, salsa, or learn the samba, you can train at any of our studios! The lovely part about teaching so many dances is that our students get the chance to find what footwork is a fit for them.

waltz lessons

Not only do our students become amazing dancers in a variety of dance styles, but part of learning to dance is learning to appreciate the history behind the music and the steps you’re executing. And today, we’re going to delve into the world of waltz.

What is the waltz?

The waltz may sound familiar to you because it’s one of the most popular and romantic ballroom dances out there. If you’re looking to turn up the heat with your significant other, the waltz is a fun place to start. Some people consider the waltz to be the backbone of many ballroom dances, as many of our favorite dances today incorporate familiar moves from the waltz.

The waltz is a ballroom dance performed in triple time, usually in closed form, by a couple who turns rhythmically around the dance floor in an elegant motion. Find out if the waltz fits your personality here.

History of the waltz

waltz lessons 3Ballroom dancing has certainly personified social growth in the United States over the decades, and the waltz is no exception. With roots traceable all the way back to 16th-century Europe, the waltz was born out of the sliding/gliding movements. It is said that French philosopher Montaigne wrote of a dance he saw in 1580 in Augsburg, Germany, where the dancers held each other so closely that their faces touched.

Since then, the waltz began to appear in a variety of creative works—in books, operas, and the like. This exposure allowed the waltz to move from the countryside to the city, and by the time the 19th century rolled around, the term “waltz” was used to describe a turning dance. So, one would “waltz” in the polka if they were turning instead of continuing straight.

The dance then spread from Germany to Vienna, Austria, to Britain, and the rest was history!

Why is it called the waltz?

Going back to the dance’s origins, the waltz got its name from the word “walzen,” which means “to turn” in German. So, when in doubt, just remember that when you’re waltzing, you’re turning!

What are the differences between the types of waltzes?

waltz lessons 2

Because the waltz inspired so many ballroom dances we perform today, it comes as no surprise that there are multiple types of waltzes. Below is a short overview of each type to help you differentiate.

Viennese Waltz

The Viennese Waltz is much quicker than other waltz styles—it is danced to music with a tempo around 200 beats-per-minute (BPMs). Because this dance is fast, there is less rise and fall and less sway than in other versions of the dance.

Country Western Waltz

This form of the waltz is very similar (or the same, according to some experts) to the American Waltz. The Country Western Waltz is danced slower than the Viennese Waltz, and it allows more room for freedom of movement. Typically performed in country dance clubs, the CW Waltz features running progressive steps, a shadow position, and cowboy boots as dance shoes.

International Waltz

One main thing to remember about the International Waltz is that you are using closed position only—similar to the main distinguishment between American and International ballroom dance. It is the most common form of the waltz for dance competitions because it is so standardized, thus making it easier to judge.

American Waltz

The American Waltz is one of the most popular forms of social dancing in the U.S. Using all kinds of positions—promenade, outside partner, closed, and shadow—the American Waltz allowed for various patterns and movements. You’ll see this style at American-style Dance Sport competitions.

Where to waltz

waltz lessons 1If you want to show off your waltzing skills or practice more often, the obvious answer is to take waltz lessons at Arthur Murray (your first lesson is free!). Not only can you learn the dance with us, but you can hone your skills and even train to compete! If lessons aren’t in the game plan right now, you can scope out these New Jersey nightclubs for a place to practice your turns.

Waltz songs

Wondering what kinds of songs you can waltz to? Though classical music is a common choice, there are also modern tunes you can waltz to. Especially if you want to waltz at your wedding, you may want to check out these romantic and popular wedding songs for the waltz. With some old and new music on the playlist, there are plenty of waltz songs to get you and your guests on the dance floor.

Ready to show your elegant side and start waltzing? Hint: If you’re engaged, now is the time! Get your free waltz lesson today and we’ll get you moving in no time

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Sarah has been with Arthur Murray Dance Studios since 2001. She started as a Certified Professional Instructor and went through the Arthur Murray ranks winning many performance awards throughout the years. She eventually opened her own studio with her husband in Ridgewood, New Jersey. Since then, she and her husband have added 5 more studios to their family, the Denville NJ, Roxbury NJ, Chatham NJ, and Morristown NJ and Bucharest Romania locations. She loves being a part of Arthur Murray and transforming people’s lives through the process of learning to dance!