The Waltz is very graceful in movement and character. There is a strong “rise and fall” (up and down) technique used though out the figures.
The name “Waltz” evolved from the German (Deutsch) language word ”Walzer” meaning to roll or revolve. Waltz evolved from German peasant dances during the sixteenth century. The men held the women in closed position throughout, which was quite a shock to so-called polite society, making Waltz the Dirty Dancing of the late eighteenth century! As late as 1825 an English handbook of Terms of the Arts said of Waltz: In Music, the name of a riotous and indecent German dance. Nobles were said to sneak away from the dress balls at which the Minuet was the exclusive dance, and attend the parties of their servants, who were waltzing around the rooms.
Throughout the nineteenth Century, the Waltz was a fast dance, much like what we currently know as the Viennese Waltz. By 1900, Waltz was the most popular of all of the dances (about three quarters of all the music played), and the remaining one quarter contained all the other dances combined.
In the 1910s, the English dancers Vernon and Irene Castle introduced the Hesitation Waltz that was danced to fast music. The Hesitation was a halt on the standing foot on one full measure, with the moving foot suspended or slowly dragged The Hesitation Waltz gave rise to new figures that the Waltz's orginal rotary nature did not allow. This development gave rise to figures such as the Hesitation Change. Drag Hesitation, and Cross Hesitation.
As the musical speed slowed, Slow Waltz’ evolved during the twenties as an advancement of Viennese Waltz, which already contained the new concepts of "straight ahead" (i.e non-rotary) movement. This new style was adopted and choreographed by English dance instructors and accepted as the official International Style Waltz in 1927. Often referred to as English Waltz' it now has the more familiar name Ballroom Waltz’ reflecting its place amongst the International Style Ballroom" Dances.
Differences between Ballroom (International Standard) Waltz and Smooth (American) Waltz Ballroom Waltz contains only closed figures, where the couple never leaves closed position. (American) Smooth waltz allows the dancers to break closed contact into single hand hold, double hand hold, and in some figures, no hold.