International Standard Waltz is distinguished by the fact that the partners dance exclusively in closed position, which means that, unlike many sequence dances, the couple never breaks the embrace. As such, it is well suited to freestyle ballroom dancing where the man leads and the lady follows. International Standard waltz is preferably danced as a slow waltz, which means to music around 28-30 beats per minute with the typical 1-2-3 count. The Viennese Waltz is an exception to this. It has evolved from other historical names such as the Slow Waltz and the English Waltz.
History and Development of International Standard Waltz
The origins of international standard waltz style dancing can be found among the peoples of Europe. Different countries developed their own particular traits, the most well known of which were the English Waltz, the Hungarian Waltz and the Waltz Mazurka. In fact, the very name “Waltz” comes from a German word meaning “to roll, turn” or “to glide”.
With the progress of time, International Standard waltz fell into 3 main categories:
1. The Ballroom Waltz
2. The Viennese Waltz
3. The Folk Waltz
The Ballroom Waltz is a slow dance with measured steps and which moves around the dance floor in controlled fashion and includes many figures.
The Viennese Waltz on the other hand, is a fast dance that involves continuous and co-ordinated turning, while the Folk Waltz can be done to varying speeds of music.
Essentially, standard international waltz combines a number of waltz dance moves, which vary according to the level of advancement. In a freestyle routine, the man chooses which of these moves to do and the lady follows. Unlike sequence dancing, the primary skill for the lady for this form of waltz dancing is knowing how to read the man’s signals and to follow.
Some of the more well known terms for waltz moves are: Closed Changes, Natural Turn, Reverse Turn, Natural Spin Turn, Whisk, Chasse from Promenade Position, Closed Impetus, Hesitation Change, Outside Change, Reverse Corte, Basic Weave, Double Reverse Spin, Reverse Pivot, Backlock, Open and Closed Telemark, Wing, Drag Hesitation, Outside Spin and Turning Lock, Contra Check and Fallaway Reverse.
Standard International Waltz dancing, like all dances in the Standard Category, is a traveling dance – i.e. one that significantly travels over the dance floor. Done well, it gives a graceful floating, gliding appearance.