Viennese Waltz: A Real Workout!

No dance captures the aura of romance, elegance, and graceful movement better than Viennese Waltz.

It looks like a fairytale dance. You feel like you're flying. And when done at its best, this dance can leave you as breathless as a marathon footrace!

No dance captures the aura of romance, elegance, and graceful movement better than Viennese Waltz. This was the original Waltz style – before modern variations, including the standard ballroom Waltz in 3/4 time.

The first ballroom dance done in "closed position," the Viennese Waltz originated in Germany and Austria during the late 18th century. Right rotating figures, alternating with left rotating figures, were the main patterns, enabling couples to progress around the ballroom perimeter.

In later decades other figures were added, gradually modernizing the dance as it's done today. One of the more advanced patterns involves a series of "flekerls," steps that require precise coordination as couples rapidly rotate in place near the center of the dance floor, away from line-of-dance. When done right, flekerls feel and look great, but the footwork is tricky and it's definitely not for beginners.

Unlike the "English Waltz" or "Slow Waltz," which are danced at around 90 beats per minute, the Viennese Waltz is danced twice as fast – around 180 beats per minute. Practicing or performing this dance can be quite a workout!

Because it's one of the most challenging Ballroom dances, the Viennese Waltz can often make or break results in a dance competition. Despite the unrelenting tempo, dancers are expected to assume and maintain proper posture, frame, head position, balance, and footwork. Mistakes are easily spotted and there is little, if any, time to recover from incorrect steps or incomplete patterns.

When beginners ask to learn "Waltz," sometimes they are unknowingly referring to a Viennese Waltz seen on "Dancing with the Stars" or in a motion picture. They may have been impressed by the choreography, period costumes or grand ballrooms reproduced on movie sets. But to execute this dance properly and safely dancers must start with fundamentals at a manageable pace.

Our studio instructors suggest new dancers begin with one of the slower smooth styles, like American Waltz (the type of Waltz often seen at weddings). A solid frame, a reliable sense of balance, and stamina for aerobic activity are essential before tackling the Viennese.  

It's well worth the wait. In fact, some dancers enjoy this style so much, they schedule European vacations to intersect the "Viennese Ball Season" (January through February). They dance their nights away in historic Viennese ballrooms. For dedicated dancers who love classic smooth dancing, what could be more romantic than that? If you're new to Ballroom and decide to start dance instruction now, you might find a perfect reason for a trip to Vienna early next year!

Hope to see you on the dance floor!


Cheryl Burke Dance Mountain View

Cheryl Burke Dance Studios are located in two California locations: Mountain View and Laguna Niguel. For more information, see cherylburkedance.com and click on "Contact Us" or see our Facebook pages.

© 2012, Cheryl Burke Dance, LLC. All rights reserved.

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Just Mom July 10, 2012 at 11:58 PM
How might one who is rhythm challenged get started with ballroom dancing? What dance would you recommend starting with?
Glenna Maple July 11, 2012 at 06:27 AM
Love the viennese waltz lessons with Jim Morton! We feel like we are gracefully gliding around the room! Don't know if we look that graceful though...Definitely can use more practice! And to think, someday, we could go to Vienna and dance...!? Cool!
Cheryl Burke July 11, 2012 at 09:47 PM
Hi Eric.Yes i agree.Dancing with your spouse is the greatest feeling .With some lessons you will sweep her off her feet.Thank you for the comment.
Cheryl Burke July 11, 2012 at 10:13 PM
Glenna, Keep up with the practice.One day soon you will be floating across the dance floor in Vienna.Thats cool!!
Cheryl Burke July 12, 2012 at 12:11 AM
Mom. I would suggest you come to our studio on a friday night for our beginners only class.Our frienldy staff will recommend a course of action for you.I would suggest your first dance be rumba.Have a great day.!!


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