Arcadia and the Waltz!


"The Waltz King" Johann Strauss


Topics!

Images
Introduction
Basic Information
Ancestry
Popularity and Acceptance
Conflicts and Objections
Influences
Quotes
Bibliographic Information


Images!
People Waltzing
Music



Introduction

In scene seven of Arcadia, Thomasina urges Septimus to waltz but he refuses because"it is not a waltz."
THOMASINA: "It is not?"
SEPTIMUS: "No, it is too slow for waltzing."
This statement is quite true considering the traditional Viennese waltzes, of the nineteenth century, were characterized by swift, gliding movements. Not until the end of scene seven do Septimus and Thomasina begin to display "the vivacity and brilliance of the Habsburg court."
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Basic Information

Dancing has always been an integral part of human culture. It reflects the history and general mood of the population. The waltz was a social dance that impacted history and caused controversy among critics and polite society. In 3/4 meter (Math and Music), this dance had many different rhythmical variations with a strong emphasis on the first beat of every measure. The term "waltz" comes from the German word waltzen, which technically means tramping. The Latin form of that word, however, volvere, suits the idea of the waltz much more adequately because it means turning, rotating, or whirling. The waltz was the most popular form of social dance in the nineteenth century because it was simplistic, unsophisticated, and involved couples in close embrace. Its initial roots extend far beyond the German peasant dance that originated in the 1750's.
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Ancestry

There were three basic precursors to the waltz: the Landler, the Weller, and the Spinner, respectively. Beginning in the sixteenth century, the Landler was an Austrian couple dance. The peasants of the Austrian mountains developed this rambunctious dance. There was an emphasis on the first beat, and it emitted a feeling of challenge as well as a declaration of spirit. This allowed the peasants to display the innate joy in life, and gave them a feeling of community. The Landler was a means of releasing one's self from inner and outer confinement, as well as anticipated revolution. The French Revolution, after all, was quickly approaching.
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Popularity and Acceptance

The waltz was not immediately accepted by the upper class. In fact, it didn't begin to attain social acceptance until the rise of the French Revolution, when an interest in folklore was experiencing rapid growth. At first, Austrians of all social strata loved this invigorating dance, but not until it was "clean." England would not accept this "insulting" dance until 1810. After that, the waltz swept through Europe like a tidal wave. In 1810, the English waltz became internationally popular; if one was from England it was necessary to know how to waltz. A large factor that helped the dance gain popularity was its link to a German dance and the whirling and gliding that accompanied the movements. The nineteenth century was the climax of the waltz, but it has survived longer than any other form of dance: over two hundred years.
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Conflicts and Objections

There were many reasons why the waltz was offensive to 19th century society. It was in direct contrast to the minuet, a dance of courtship with an artificial style, a limited range of movement, and complicated maneuvers that had to be studied for an adequate performance. Doctors claimed that the speed at which couples whirled around a room while waltzing would result in serious medical conditions. Others found the waltz morally offensive because of its erotic nature.* In the eighteenth century, it was seen as a vulgar dance, suitable only for the entertainment of peasants. (*For specific quotations and writings against the waltz please refer to the end of this article.) For a time, it was forbidden in many regions of Europe, and pamphlets expressed opposition to the "forbidden dance." One pamphlet, written in the eighteenth century, tried to give proof that "waltzing is the main source of the weakness of the body and mind of our generation."
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What the Waltz Represents and its Influences

Despite the moral and medical objections, the waltz has lived on. It continued to exist because it mirrored the mood of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. The waltz was the most expressive form of human passion, and it evoked a feeling of happiness. The dance allowed personal freedom, broke the routines of the past, demonstrated a rebellious spirit, and contained the strength, growth, and change inherent within the Austrian people. The waltz had a tremendous influence on composition, opera, ballet, the polka, and the mazurka. Variations on the waltz formed all over the world. These included the Viennese Waltz, the Boston, and the Creole Waltz. The twentieth century waltz has a tempo much slower than the nineteenth century version. The English Waltz, in particular, commands international acclaim in ballrooms everywhere. The moral questions that arose from the waltz helped to further the development of civilization.
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Quotes from the era

"The dancers grasped the long dress of their partners so that it would not drag and be trodden upon, and lifted it high, holding them in this cloak which brought both bodies under one cover, as closely as possible against them and in this way the whirling continued in the most indecent positions: the supporting hand lay firmly on the breast, at each movement making little lustful pressures; the girls went wild and looked as if they would drop. When waltzing on the darker side of the room there were bolder embraces and kisses. The custom of the country: it is not as bad as it looks, they exclaim. But now I understand very well why here and there in parts of Swabia and Switzerland the waltz has been prohibited."
Ersnt Arndt, 1799

"...how uneasy an English mother would be to see her daughter so familiarly treated, and still more so to witness the obliging matter in which the freedom is returned by the females."
Burney, Ree's Cyclopaedia

During the Congress of Vienna, attendees came up with the famous phrase, "Le Congres ne marche pas - il danse," which meant: instead of the matters at hand, the Congress was dancing the waltz.

In his poem "The Waltz: an Apostrophic Hymn," Lord Byron denounces "the lewd grasp and lawless contact," of the waltz. He ends by writing: "And cockneys practise what they can't pronounce."

"...The people were dancing mad. As the carnival approached, gaiety began to display itself on all sides, and when it really came, nothing could exceed its brilliancy. The ladies of Vienna are particularly celebrated for their grace and movements of waltzing of which they never tire. For my own part, I thought waltzing from ten at night until seven in the morning a continental whirligig, most tiresome to the eye and ear - to say nothing of worse consequences..."
Michael Kelly, writing about life in Vienna in 1776



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Images
Introduction
Basic Information
Ancestry
Popularity and Acceptance
Conflicts and Objections
Influences
Quotes
Bibliographic Information



Bibliographic Information:

Dixon, Brenda; Hilsendager, Sarah Chapman; Kraus, Richard - Temple
University. The History of the Dance in Art and Education. 3rd
edition. pp. 101-103. (c) 1991 Prentice-Hall, Inc. Englewood Cliffs, NJ.

Jones, Timothy J. The 1996-97 Music Listening Contest Study Guide. pp. 25.
In collaboration with the Minnesota Public Radio Mucis Listening Contest
Board.

The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians. Edited by Stanley Sadie.
v20. Virelai to Zywny, appendixes. pp. 200-206. (c) 1980 Macmillan
Publishers Limited, London.

"Popular and Social Dance," Microsoft(R) Encarta(R) 97 Encyclopedia. (c)
1993-1996 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.

Slonimsky, Nicolas. Lectionary of Music. pp. 508-509. (c) 1989 by Nicolas
Slonimsky.

Sorell, Walter. Dance in its Time: The Emergence of and Art Form. pp. 201-
207. (c) 1961 by Bertha Georgie Yeats. Anchor Press Edition: 1981.
Garden City, New York.

"Waltz," Microsoft(R) Encarta(R) 97 Encyclopedia. (c) 1993-1996 Microsoft
Corporation. All rights reserved.

Wechsberg, Joseph. The Waltz Emperors: The Life and Times and Music of the
Strauss Family
. G. P. Putnam's Sons: New York, 1973.


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