Ballroom Dances - 19th century

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  • Ballroom Dancing (19th century)
    • Waltz
      • People first started writing and dancing waltzes in Austria - mostly in the ballrooms of Vienna
      • The first waltzes were written in the 1790's. The most famous composers were the family of Strausses, (The dad was Johann Strauss the Elder. He had three sons who all composed waltzes - Johann, Josef and Eduard.
      • The waltz ended up being one of the most popular dances of the nineteenth century - not just in Vienna, but all over Europe and in North America too.
      • People thought the waltz was really saucy at first - it was the first dance where people held each other so closely.
      • A waltz is always in triple meter. The time signature is usually 3/4
      • The 'oom' is stronger than the 'cha cha'. So the rhythm feels more like one beat in a bar than three
      • The 'oom cha cha' rhythm is emphasized in the accompanying chords
      • Waltzes written for a dances have a steady, constant beat. Waltzes for listening often have pauses and use tempo rubato.
    • Polka
      • The polka hit the ballroom scene a bit later than the waltz, in the 1830s, but ended up just as popular.
      • It was originally a folk song from Bohemia - that s' the western the western part of the Czech Republic.
      • The polka has a lot more energy and jerkier movements than a waltz. Partners hold tight and move quick-quick-slow.
      • There are 2 beats per bar and polkas are usually in 2/4. The polka rhythms often copy the dance movements.
      • Just like waltzes, polkas were written in binary and ternary forms and composers used techniques like appoggiaturas to spice up the tunes.
      • The baby Strausses wrote lots of polkas and fancy orchestral effects. The most famous are the Thunder and Lightning and Pizzicato Polkas.
      • Like Waltzes, polkas moved away from the ballroom and were used in classical pieces e.g. in Smetana's opera 'the  Bartered Bride'


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