a. The Slow French Waltz

We will begin with the Slow French Waltz, also called the Pirouette Waltz, because it appears to have been very popular at the time, it's familiar enough to anyone who knows the rotary waltz to be dead easy -- and yet it is different enough to be distinctive. It is also, in my opinion, a lot of fun.

The music for this should be a slow waltz tempo. A more upbeat tempo would be used for the other waltz I shall address - the Sauteuse.

The most striking difference between the Regency Waltz and the Victorian/Viennese Waltz is floorcraft. In the later waltzes, the leader is weaving in and out of traffic, and is constantly managing the couple's position in the swirling dancing mass. This is not so with the Regency Waltz. In the Regency Waltz, the partners travel counterclockwise around the floor in the usual "Line of Direction". However, they do not maneuver. Each pair keeps their place in the formation. They do not pass and they do not stop, as they rotate slowly around the room. For those familiar with the Waltz Quadrille, this concept should be quite familiar.

You may begin side by side, with three slow march steps; then turning to face each other, take your partner in the hold of your choice and beginning the rotation. (Note: the march is optional) The postures are entirely up to the couple in question. The man is the leader but the lady can, as ladies do, suggest a preferred posture. Postures may be changed at any time during the dance, and are done independently from all the other couples. Be aware that the construction of some ladies' gowns, or difference in stature, may make some postures unworkable or uncomfortable.

These postures are not your only options. I would suggest that almost any reasonable posture in which two people can dance is acceptable - with one exception: the "ballroom position" with the gentleman's left hand lady's right extended. This posture is designed to lead and maneuver, and you're not doing that. Also, NOT doing this posture that so defines the later Waltz is an excellent way of reminding yourself that what you are doing is a different thing entirely.

The transitions from one posture to another should be done in a manner that leads to the least possible awkwardness and confusion. If you have mastered a slick and graceful transition from favorite posture 1 to favorite posture 2, then by all means do it. Otherwise I would suggest moving to a neutral posture with partners facing each other, holding both hands, before moving to the next posture.

Wilson describes the step as the man starting with the left foot, taking three bourée steps (without the downward dip) while the lady, standing on her toes, rotates in place. The lady then takes the three bourée steps while the gentleman rotates - and so it goes. All these steps are done on the toes. You will, of course, have to reconcile this with what your ankles and calves can actually accomplish.

I will not lay too much emphasis on the exact form of this step. If you already know how to waltz, just waltz slowly around in the manner that feels right to you. The overall effect of smoothness and grace is the primary concern.

Since this is a partner figure, you do as you would do in any dancing figure and make eye contact with your partner and, for the most part, hold that eye contact throughout the dance. This is an ideal of course, and you should do this as much as you can within the limits of dizziness and an occasional need to make sure you aren't drifting from your assigned place in the ring.

And that, my friends, is all there is to it. I suggest scanning through the illustrations and picking out two or three postures you find congenial, and then get out on the floor and just do it.