We define the waltz rather
broadly: it includes any dance in Western culture
that is in 3/4 time, travels around a dance floor
and has a tendency to turn. There is a continuity
within varieties of what we call waltz and that
continuity is linked to the tempo of the music. The
waltz is all about momentum. The dance becomes what
the momentum of the music will allow.
The basic pattern our culture
perceives as a waltz is a turning pattern, where
partners face each other in closed ballroom
position. They keep that position as they move
around the dance floor in a revolving embrace
allowing the tempo of music to give the necessary
centrifugal momentum for both partners to move
smoothly as one unit.
The ideal tempo for this basic
pattern is in the 130 to 155 bpm range. A
comfortable tempo that is slow enough that the
feeling of the music can be expressed in a variety
of ways. The couple can leave the embrace, do other
variations, and then come back smoothly to the
revolving embrace. The upper end of this range was
the tempo of the waltzes during the great age of
the waltz in the 1800's when it scandalized Europe
with it's close embrace, and breathless speed.
(This according to dance historian Richard Powers)
This is also the range that is ignored by what is
presently codified as ballroom waltzes.
As the tempo gets faster, its gets
more difficult to leave the embrace and come back
smoothly. This tempo demands that the turning, if
it is to be sustained, be the main focus of the
dance. The ballroom Viennese waltz that ranges from
165 to 180 bpm was developed for this tempo. There
are also other possibilities.
Beyond 180 bpm, the waltz becomes
a kind of syncopated one step in the tango waltz,
the hesitation waltz, and other waltzes that have
been developed over the years that allow us to omit
stepping on every beat.
At the other end of the bpm
spectrum are slow waltzes (90 to 100 bpm). At this
speed there is not enough momentum developed to
dance in the revolving embrace pattern. The modern
ballroom waltz, with its long steps and sense of
drama, was developed to make up for this lack of
momentum. This waltz is taught in most studios very
well and is not taught by Waltz Eclectic.
Increasing the speed a little to
the 100 to 125 bpm the cross step waltz with its
equally balanced surge on beat one and four by the
lead and follow, respectively, and its smooth and
flowing steps, offers a transition between the long
steps and angular patterns of the ballroom waltz
and circular rotations of the turning waltz. It has
the playful nature of the one-step combined with
the blissful feeling of the revolving embrace.
Within this musical spectrum, the
waltz visits a wide range of cultures and styles.
It virtually takes you around the world in musical
gesture and nuance.
Waltz Eclectic dances
are over 50% waltzes. The rest being swing, latin,
foxtrot, night club step, tango, blues etc. There
is however great variety in the waltzes we play
both in tempo and mood. The ballroom waltz taught
at dance studios is not a style that you will see
much at one of our dances. Styles you will see are
turning waltzes with lots of variation, cross step
waltzes, redowas, hestitation waltzes, tango vals,
blues, latin, swing waltz variations, threesomes or
just about anything else that fits the tempo and
passion in the music. The YouTube videos below are
meant to provide a flavor of what dancing to waltz