How To Waltz

by Lissie

Learning to waltz is great fun, there are plenty of ways to learn - read this article to get some quick tips!

Many non-dancers faced with either their own wedding, a friend's wedding or a ball decide that they would like to learn to waltz. It can't be that hard can it? Well I thought the same thing - started taking classes and 15 years later I'd still say my waltz is pretty average!

Learning to waltz is more than just the steps. Its all about the right posture, the position of the man and the woman, and rise and fall in the feet. That's why its almost impossible to learn from a book, or even a web page!

How To Do The Waltz: Step by Step.

Traditionally done by a male and female, the more inclusive terminology is follower and leader because really they shouldn't be sex-restricted roles. There are some very good male/males and female/female partnerships who dance same-sex waltz competitively! Whatever part you are learning though, don't swap - that makes it about 10 times harder to learn to waltz!

Man's (Leader's) Waltz Steps

Count 1: Forward left foot

Count 2: Side right foot
Count 3: Close left foot to right and change weight so you'll standing on the left foot.
Count 4: Forward step right foot
Count 5: Side and slightly forward left foot
Count 6: Close right foot to left and change weight
Count 7; Back left foot
Count 8: Side and slightly backward right foot
Count 9: Close left foot to right and change weight

Woman's (Follower's) Waltz Steps

Count 1: Back right foot
Count 2: Side left foot
Count 3: Close right foot to left weight and change weight so you'll standing on the right foot.
Count 4: Back step left foot
Count 5: Side and slightly back right foot
Count 6: Close left foot to right and change weight
Count 7; Forward right foot
Count 8: Side and slightly forward left foot
Count 9: Close right foot to left and change weight

How To Do A Simple Waltz

This video will show how very simple steps, can create a beautiful dance. You won't look like this after a beginner's course though - the dancers are Marcus and Karen Hilton who were world champions for many years. This is international style waltz - where its not permitted for couples to break dance hold.

Simple Waltz

Danced by the Long-Time World Champions Marcus and Karen Hilton

Waltz- From Simple to Sophisticated

Other Types of Waltz

Tennessee Waltz. This is well known song which gets played at all different tempos- the original, slower version though is a normal waltz. I believe there is also a line dance called the Tennessee Waltz

Viennese Waltz. This is the original "waltz", what we now call the "waltz" is more correctly known as the "English Waltz". The Viennese is danced to faster music, and therefore as far fewer variations of steps and lines. Its difficult to do because of its speed - definitely not a beginners dance!

International Style Viennese Waltz

Recent International Competition

American and International Style Waltzes

As is often the case Americans do it slightly differently. The basics of the waltz are the same, as is the music and its tempo. The difference is that in American style is permissible to break hold, so a woman, for example can do an under arm turn.

In International style, the style taught in every other country except the USA, you do not break hold ever, in fact in a competition you would be disqualified for doing so. Beginners tend to start dancing without full body contact, but once you are intermediate or above, its impossible to dance with out full body contact (woman's right side to man's tie line (varies depending on the couple's height difference).

Socially you could do either in any country - though Americans might get some stares with their weird steps.

I've included a couple of videos of top-graded competitors in the two styles so you can compare.

International Style: Waltz

Same music and basic steps - no breaking away allowed

American Style: Smooth Waltz

Want To Learn To Waltz?

Personally I don't think you can go past enroling for some local dance classes. Dancing is not just exercise, its a great social experience! If however you can't get to class, can't afford it, or indeed have done some classes and want to learn a bit more - check out these videos and books: 

Updated: 03/14/2012, Lissie
Thank you! Would you like to post a comment now?


Yeirl on 03/11/2012

Those 3/4th turns used to drive me nuts. I agree it is one of the hardest...better if you have a man that lead you well.

Lissie on 02/28/2012

I still think waltz is one of the hardest dances - and I've been learning for about 15 years!

Pinkchic18 on 02/28/2012

This is so neat! I love that International Style Viennese Waltz video, her dress is gorgeous and it looks like so much fun! We had a waltz class in high school but I just can't remember how to do it anymore.

Lissie on 02/22/2012

I've always said - why go through all the legal implications of wearing a wedding dress for just one day - when I can have a new "dress of my dreams" about once a year? Oddly I hardly ever wear a skirt except when I dance - but I have some wonderful dance dresses and skirts!

Angel on 02/22/2012

This is great. I wish I could dance like this just to be able to wear the dresses. They are beautiful. I don't think I could be that graceful. I would still love to learn. I may ask my husband to try this with me.

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