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A diagram of waltz steps from a 1922 dance instruction manual
A diagram of waltz steps from a 1922 dance instruction manual

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"Anna Magdalena Waltz" performed by Julio Gomez' Orchestra in 1939

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The Wonderful Waltz
There are lots of different kinds of waltzes, all performed to different types of waltz music. The music might be fast or slow but what they all have in common is a regular one-two-three, one-two-three rhythm.

The traditional form is the old-school waltz in which dancers turn all the time with a hopping, springy step. This waltz has a slow, smooth, gliding step. (You can see the steps outlined in this diagram.) There's also the Mexican waltz, which moves much faster. Listen to this Mexican waltz music and you can imagine how fast the dancers had to move to keep up with the music.

Formal dancing has even become a profession, with people entering competitions. Have you ever seen a formal dance competition?

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CREDIT: Frank, Charles J. (Charles Julius), ed. "The latest method, home instruction by mail, dancing courses..." Philadelphia, Pa., The Beacon Academy, 1922. An American Ballroom Companion: Dance Instruction Manuals, ca. 1490-1920, Library of Congress.
AUDIO CREDIT: Julio Gomez' Orchestra, performers. "Anna Magdalena Waltz." February 18, 1939. California Gold: Northern California Folk Music from the Thirties. Collected by Sidney Robertson Cowell, Library of Congress.