Simply graceful and elegant, those are words that describe the Slow Waltz. The smooth progressive dance has been danced to slow ballads and instrumental music in 3/4 time since the early 1800s when it was introduced into the English ballrooms. This was the first time a man and woman held a close dance position, which raised eyebrows at a time when society was not so forgiving or lacked a modern outlook. However, it was the criticism that made the Slow Waltz more appealing, a dance form that is here to stay. The Slow Waltz was in the International Standard category of ballroom dance forms although it is now officially termed as the Waltz.
The Slow Waltz has evolved over time from a country folk dance in the seventeenth century in Austrian and Bavarian suburbs. It spread rapidly throughout Europe and by the mid 1800s was popular in the United States as well. The tempo at the time was fast paced and demanding on the average dancer. However, many composers slowed the tempo making the dance form use slower turns and longer, gliding movements. It was known as the Boston, which later made way for the Slow Waltz. The Americans added a theatrical flavor to the new dance form while the English codified the technique into competitive International style. Dancers move to a temp ranging from 28 to 30 measures per minute while the basic rhythm is a 123 123 with a strong accent on 1. This allows for very powerful and dynamic movements.
The dominant beat is the first beat of each measure. The other two beats (2&3) are lighter. The music is slow, melodic and fluid and is more often orchestral without heavy drums or percussion involved. The dance form relies more on melody to make the progression more fluid while the music can be instrumental or vocal. Like other forms of Waltz, the Slow Waltz uses some rise and fall starting with the knee flexed and gradually reaching a high on the count 3 and 6. The feet are gently glided across without leaving the floor at any time in a counterclockwise direction. The steps include right and left box turns and progressive steps in addition to half boxes with movements of flourish.
In the Slow Waltz, there is no hip movement but a swing through using heel leads on the first count of three moving forward. Partners use a slightly offset position with the Follower to the Leader’s right side. The head and spine are held left without dipping the shoulder, which is one of the first aspects you will learn during a Slow Waltz lesson.
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