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English and Viennese Waltz VS. American style Waltz: Why the opposite?
Posted by Andrew Pearce
7/4/2018  3:51:00 AM
My background in dancing is mainly Austrian - several dance course programs have been succeeded by nearly 4 years membership in a nearby ballroom dance club and many balls.

Recently, I was surprised when an American girl I was teaching the waltz, who had had some dance lessons in the US, told me that she had learned just the opposite of what I was teaching her. In Europe, we learn Viennese or English/Slow Waltz with the lead starting forwards on his right foot. She had learned that the lead starts forward on his left, with the couple dancing a clockwise box step. European waltzes have a counter-clockwise basic box step.

The lead starts on his left foot forward for the reverse turn waltz, in both Viennese and Slow Waltz.

I have now even seen some tutorial videos where the instructors show that the dance direction is clockwise around the room, completely the opposite of here, but which is according to the opposite regular step.

Does anyone know why this is? It doesn't make any sense to me... Maybe it got mixed up when the dance floated across the pond 200 years ago?

Re: English and Viennese Waltz VS. American style Waltz: Why the opposite?
Posted by nloftofan1
7/4/2018  1:55:00 PM
In American style dancing it is usual for the leader to commence with the left foot (usually forward). The basic (slow) Waltz box could be thought of as a Reverse Turn (in European or "International" style dancing) without any turn. That is, the foot positions (LF forward, etc.) are the same. (I can already hear purists disagreeing with me.) Alternatively, you could think of the American Waltz (left) box as a LF Closed Change followed by what you could think of as the leader and follower switching roles: the leader does the three steps the follower just did, and vice versa. Dancers above the absolute beginner level may rotate the box (turning left), but about 1/4 turn for each half rather than 3/8. This box does not progress down the floor. In higher (Silver and above) levels American Waltz employs continuity style, just as Foxtrot does even at the beginner level in International Style. The box is replaced by, essentially, a Quick Open Reverse with Waltz rhythm. (American Waltz and Foxtrot share a lot of figures.) But as far as I know, the "Line of Dance" is counterclockwise around the room here as well as in Europe.

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