Old Vienna Dance Photo Album from various waltz history books (first draft, subject to revision)--for education purposes only.   Sid Hetzler

Updated:  12/25/07       Return to home page    Return to Old Vienna page
Click on photos to enlarge.

sharisid.jpg (25196 bytes)





 Huntsville dancer Shari Feth, assisted by Sid Hetzler, models dance shoes, leather dress and blouse bought at a vintage clothing shop in Germany summer 2000 while working on a NASA project.  Sid is wearing loose cotton shirt and antique leather lederhosen, which Shari found at a good price at the old clothes shop.  Not visible are Shari's braided hair loops and entwined flowers, created from pictures of old-style German dancers found in the vintage clothing shop.  For more information, email her at:  shari.feth [@] msfc.nasa.gov

BiefermeirWaltzLanStraus.jpg (69588 bytes) Formal ball with Lanner, upper right, and Strauss the Father, right on fiddle, playing in the 1820s.


HofburgBall.jpg (57332 bytes) Emperor Franz Joseph at a formal ball, probably at carnival time, in the great hall of the Hofburg Palace, the most popular venue today for the finest of the carnival balls.  Mozart played and danced there and wrote some of the contra and waltz music for 1791 carnival ball.


LaDanseVillageoise.jpg (75138 bytes) A caricature of the wild languass waltz style when the lady is thrown high in the air, creating great controversy and even city ordinances to prevent ladies' undergarments from being seen.  Note the two styles, the more sedate landler and the more vigorous languass; historical sources indicate that there were a much wider variety of waltz dances than those seen in the aristocratic ballrooms.  I believe the instrument on the right is a form of zither [no, hurdy-gurdy, apparently].
Note:  Miko Sloper emails that "
in your comments to the "caricature" picture (fourth down) you guess that the instrumment is a form of zither.  It is not.  It is a hurdy-gurdy, a.k.a. vielle a roux, a.k.a. drehleier.  It is still used widely in french folk music."  We appreciate the correction.


RobustLandler.jpg (114379 bytes) A robust peasant dance with landler styles, the slow, arms-raised style seen on the veranda when, in the "Sound of Music" movie, Captain Von Trapp and Maria were dancing and fell in love at that moment.


SchrammelQuartet.jpg (57818 bytes) The original Schrammel folk quartet, a favorite of Emperor Franz Joseph that continues in the present with violin, viola, bass guitar, and G clarinet--possibly augmented at times with a small brass instrument that can be seen on the table.


SofienSaalPrgm1863.jpg (78118 bytes) Poster of the 1860s for the three brothers Strauss conducting a Monster Masked Ball at carnival season at the Sofien Saal hall, preserved and still in use today.  It was originally built in 1830 as a huge swimming pool, but the Viennese did not bath in sufficient numbers to make it successful.


Sperl1839Galop.jpg (47164 bytes) The Sperl was the most famous of the Viennese ballrooms built in the early 1800s and was the venue where Johann Strauss II first played in the 1840s, becoming his father's competitor and later successor along with his two brothers, Josef and Eduard.  Other ballrooms included the huge Apollo and the Sofien Saal, built in the 1830s and the only one remaining today; it is still in use for clubbing music and more recently carnival balls.


StaussLanner.jpg (64096 bytes) Strauss the Father and Joseph Lanner, his original partner from the 1820s and who was the more popular composer and court composer/director until his death in the 1840s.  The two parted ways in the late 1820s after a furious fight that left fine instruments smashed; they later smoothed over the quarrel but never played together again.  


StraussHofbugPrmg.jpg (61174 bytes) Strauss the Son's precise play list for a mid-century ball; note the mixture of dances; polkas would have become more popular in the 1830s and were always included in the many balls, especially at carnival season January until the beginning of Lent.


VictAlbertWaltz.jpg (65948 bytes) Young Queen Victoria and Albert waltzing English-style at her coronation; Strauss the Elder played an original composition at one of her coronation balls and the new queen was said to love the new style of couples dancing.  The English dancing master Wilson's manual on correct waltzing was published in 1816, and led to a more formal style in England and America.

A caricature of the immoral, sinful waltz that could lead impressionable young ladies on the road to hell.

(double click to enlarge)
"Vien Walz"--circa 1820s Hungarian print photographed with owner's permission near the office door of  the 300-year old Piaristenkellar Restaurant near Hotel Pension Zipser in old-town Vienna.  

This print gives illustrates the close, body contact way of waltzing Viennese-style, which apparently depicts the 1820s era in Vienna according to fashion experts consulted at Cincinnati's 1998 Vintage Dance Week.  If dated accurately, this could be a print of salon dancing to Schubert's waltzes.   (Comments from dance detectives and semioticians on the interpretation of this print would be welcomed at waltz [@] splittree.org.)   This vigorous, close style of waltzing is seen in paintings used on several CD covers of Strauss waltzes.  Note how far the partner's right arm is around the three ladies' waists, giving a sense of the actual closeness suggested by literary phrases such as "deep in his arms" that is used in several period literary and journalistic mentions of the waltz as a dangerous trend.

This close body contact style fits my own unexpected experience with several Austrian and Swiss dance partners at the Vienna's Hofburg Palace Kaiserballs visited in 1995 and 1997 as well as four carnival balls visited in February 1998.  These very excellent partners quickly suggested without hesitation that my several inches apart waltz "frame" (learned from several American dance instructors) was a "weak English idea of the Viennese waltz style," said one lovely partner, who encircled me much as the ladies above and agreeably whirled me around the Hofburg Palace floor at warp speed.   (I wonder if Mozart danced this way at the balls he apparently attended and composed for, especially the 1791 carnival ball from which we have his late period dance music).  

This kind of waltzing was difficult at first until I relaxed and let the lady lead at least half the time, which seemed the only way to get around the floor and stay in time with the music while avoiding hitting more stationary dancers as if they were a rock in the rapids of whirling couples.  The feeling was of an alternating pulse that I have heard taught as: I turn you, you turn me...to a count of six with the man giving a strong lead on the one and the woman on the four, making it necessary for each to yield to the other's lead.

The Strauss and Lanner waltzes played at the Hofburg Palace by Austrian musicians (some from Slovakian countries I'm told) added to this pulse with a seeming lift on the second beat, which I'm told and the books mention is slightly accelerated in Viennese style waltz music and is, like Cajun music, more easily felt that explained and counted.  When asked, these dance partners explained that they believed my bodies apart "frame" style was created by the stiff English dancers when the waltz was exported to England early in the 19th century but that the close Viennese style was still preferred today at the Austrian carnival and social balls.  However, the dance style I've observed at the six balls I've attended is not the close style, except for a few dozen couples who can manage navigating around the slower couples while maintaining a fast turning, close style.  I have seen a few Viennese ladies using the hand all the way around her partner's shoulder (as seen in this old print) and pointing toward her, which from my experimenting allows the lady much more control of the dance than the customary hand flat behind the partner's shoulder or higher on his neck.  The effect can be that of feeling as if the lady has draped herself over the man's frame...and is not at all unpleasant unless one's partner does not feel the pulse of the music.

Since I am not a dance historian and have not found much primary source material, comments from others would be welcome on this stylistic matter.  It seems to me now that the original close contact Viennese style is what I call the "lost art of waltzing" and apparently was changed in England and then in America to a more socially acceptable form of a frame with couples more apart.  Professional ballroom dancers tell me that the close style is necessary for very fast turning.  Further personal and library and visual research will be needed.  (Sid Hetzler, 7/29/98; revised 8/11/2000).