Hesitation Waltz

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The Glide waltz (1870's) held a popularity until the advent of the Hesitation Waltz and Ragtime music. The Hesitation Waltz is a variation of the Boston waltz (a two step count fwd and back waltz) around 1880. The Hesitation Waltz gets its name from the "Pause or Hesitation" in the music. This music along with the Boston or "drop step Boston" formed the Hesitation. Although he Hesitation originally only had ten variations it did not last long because the dance became too difficult to do as it originally had many backbreaking and leg breaking contortions added to it. Many instructors were creating too many figures (by public demand) and eventually they became too difficult for the average dancer to do. The Hobble Skirt was the dress of choice for the ladies to dance the Hesitation.

The Hesitation Valse (1880s) is a variety of the true Valse that can very easily be performed once the Valse is known. Defined in a nutshell, the "Hesitation" is a halt on one foot (with the other foot suspended in the air or a dragging motion) during the whole "1-2-3" of the beat of the music, or during the "2-3" only of every alternate "1-2-3." The ways of performing the "hesitation" are many and varied, and no way can be said to be more orthodox or correct than any other. It's popularity soared into the 1910s and by 1913 was one of the main dances done with the exhibition dance teams of the time and rag-dancing. By 1914 it wa being replaced by a new dance called the Dream Hesitation which won the contest for new dances of the year.

In 1913 Albert Newman created the Hesitation Boston (One Step per Measure) which merged with the Boston, in which he used a pattern he called the "The Stroll" he states: Gracefully walk backward four steps, starting with the left foot one measure, right foot one measure, left foot one measure and right foot one measure. Now walk forward to the left oblique, having the lady in Yale Position four steps (left foot one measure, right foot one measure, left foot one measure, right foot one measure). Second Part.-- Boston Turning to the right four measures". This is also very similar to the stroll of the 1960's.

In London the Boston was also called the Berceuse or Cradle Boston which was the form of Boston most popular at the time and reportedly the most difficult dance for the ballroom on account of the simplicity of its composition. It depended entirely upon each individual to create a most graceful dance, from actually only one step to the measure, and to rotate progressively around the room. After a little practice by the beginner it will be noticed that there was not much progression in this movement, and that it was quite difficult to move as quickly around the room as in the old dance (the Waltz and the Two-step); so it was necessary to add a few other movements which will bring about the desired result, Such as the Spanish Boston and the Herring Bone Boston which was taught for several years, closely resembling the Hesitation Waltz which was so popular at the time. The Canter Waltz was basically two steps per measure.

One of the leading exponents of the Hesitation in the 1910's was Maurice Mouvet who had a Hesitation Waltz song dedicated to him with the Castles following the way. Many internet articles give credit to the Castles as inventing the Hesitation, but is not correct, however their version did make it much more popular. The hesitation waltz merged with the Boston and today is just a variation of the Waltz and is one popular choice of the traditional 'First Dance' songs used in Weddings.

Because of the Hesitation Waltzes popularity many other dances were designed to include Hesitations such as the Hesitation Tango which came shortly after the Hesitation Waltz popularity in the 1910's and the Hesitation Boston, Hesitation One-step and others.

http://cdn-www.livestrong.com/ls_images/tdp-images/fitness/dancing-waltz.jpgThe Hesitation waltz is usually performed to fast music and includes the usual waltz steps. The major difference is that dancers will pause on certain beats instead of dancing through them. Both novice dancers and experienced performers alike will enjoy performing this upbeat and challenging style of dance.

How to Perform the Hesitation Waltz

  1. Start by counting the beats of the music. Traditional waltzes feature a one-two-three, four-five-six pattern.
  2.  To perform the Hesitation waltz, you should pause instead of dancing on certain beats. Pauses will be determined by the music you're dancing to.
  3. When pausing, one foot should be in the air while the other is used to maintain balance.
  4. Move the foot that's in the air slowly to position it for the next move.
  5. Maintain a steady rhythm throughout and count the beats to make sure you're in the correct position at all times.


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