The Waltz dates back to the country folk dances of Bavaria some 400 years ago. It was not introduced into “society" until 1812 when it made its appearance in English ballrooms, where it was met with outrage and indignation. People were shocked by the sight of a man dancing with his hand upon a lady’s waist.
Immediately upon its introduction to the United States around 1840, the Waltz became one of the most popular dances. It was so popular it survived the “ragtime revolution.”
In the latter part of the 19th century, composers were writing Waltzes to a slower tempo than that of the original Viennese style. The box step, typical of the American style Waltz, was being taught in the 1880's and an even slower waltz came into prominence in the early 1920's. The result is three distinct tempos: the Viennese Waltz (fast), medium Waltz, and slow Waltz — the last two being of American invention.
The Waltz is a progressive and turning dance with figures designed for both a larger ballroom floor and the average dance floor. The use of sway, rise, and fall highlight the smooth and lilting style of the Waltz.