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How to Waltz Dance Step-by-Step

The Waltz is a popular type of ballroom dance performed in ¾ time. It combines gliding movements with a focus on rising and falling, making the dance flow nicely. The waltz is a close romantic dance and has a relatively simple step that can be easy to learn. Learn how to waltz step by step with free video lessons from Howcast!

History of the Waltz

Believe it or not, the waltz used to be considered scandalous! It first appeared during the late 18th century during a time when there were stricter expectations about how dance was to be performed. At the time, many dances featured space between partners—but the waltz required partners to be close to each other, face to face. Oh my!

Eventually, the waltz gained popularity around the world. The waltz can even be viewed as the foundation for many other types of ballroom dances.

How to Waltz

Seeing two dancers perform a waltz perfectly can be quite intimidating, especially when they move with speed. However, the dance itself is quite simple once you understand the basic movements and the underlying concept of rising and falling.

Leading & Following

The waltz is usually led by the man, with the woman as the follower. The leader’s left hand will extend up and out, while their right hand will be on the mid-upper back of the follower, near the shoulder blade. The follower’s right hand will extend out to meet the man’s left hand and their left arm will be over the leader’s right arm, resting their hand just below the shoulder.

The ¾ Count

The dance is performed in ¾ time. To stay on beat, make a mental count of 1-2-3 as you take your steps. Each step will complete a count, with three steps making up a full ¾ count.

During the three-step count, you should fall and rise. You’ll begin by dropping lower on the first step, then gradually rising back up with the second and third steps. This is easier if you take long steps, but make sure they aren’t so long that you lose balance.

How to do the Basic Waltz Box Step

Now that you know the underlying concepts of the waltz, it should be much easier to understand how to perform the basic steps. Here’s how to do the Waltz Box Step (dancing the waltz while staying in the same place):

  1. Leader steps forward with the left foot, follower steps back with the right foot.
  2. Leader steps to the right side with their right foot, follower steps to the left side with their left foot.
  3. Leader moves their left foot next to their right foot, follower moves their right foot over to their left foot.
  4. This completes a full 1-2-3 cycle, during which you should’ve fallen on the first step and arisen by the 3rd step.
  5. To complete the box, another 1-2-3 cycle is required. Another falling and rising will occur during these steps.
  6. Leader steps backward with the right foot, follower steps forward with the left foot.
  7. Leader steps to the left side with their left foot, follower steps to the right side with their right foot.
  8. Leader moves their right foot next to their left foot, follower moves their left foot next to their right foot.
  9. If you want to move forward around the dance floor, step forward on step 6 rather than stepping backward.

More Waltz Steps

Watch these videos to learn more Waltz steps like the Waltz Balance Step and the Waltz Progressive Step!

How to do the Waltz Balance Step

How to do the Waltz Progressive Step

Start Dancing Today!

We hope that this guide has made learning the waltz dance a little easier for you! For even more great dance video lessons and guides, check out our main How to Dance page!

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