Nutcracker Victorian Waltz Dance How to
A historically accurate princess dance for Nutcracker and the Four Victorian Dances.
Don’t you love the Nutcracker? I was very excited to see the Nutcracker and the four realms when It was released. The Nutcracker and the four realms began and ended at the Christmas ball with the most popular Victorian dance, the waltz.
Waltz began its rise in popularity in the Regency period. In 1816 Wilson describes a French pirouette waltz in his description of the correct method of waltzing. This waltz is still alive as a solo form in the ballet according to ballet historian Robin of Penny Robyn dance-wear.
In the “Nutcracker and the Four Realms” the regents were all dressed from the baroque era. I would then surmise that the regents from the flower realm would dance the regency waltz. Of course, it would be danced to Tchaikovsky’s waltz of the flowers!
Regency French Waltz
Thomas Wilson Describes the French style of Waltzing in his 1816 manual. He describes the basic figure in two parts. The first is a pirouette, and the second is a Pas de Bourrée, danced on the toes. Preceding these figures is a march danced side by side.
How to dance the Regency French Pirouette Waltz:
- March Entrance:
Danced in the first 4 bars of the song (in our demonstration we repeated this every 8 bars)
Stand side by side, left to left hand hold, ladies’ right hand behind her back holding gentleman’s right hand. Commence forward outside foot (Gentleman’s Left, Ladies Right) for 4 hesitation walks forward (one step three beats). At the end turn to face one another
French Slow Waltz Basic:
Dance position- Gentleman facing lady right arms extended around back gently supported, Left hands clasped overhead.
Dance Order: The Gentleman will commence with the Pirouette while the Lady dances the Pirouette for the first measure. On the second measure the gentleman will dance the Pas de Bourrée while the Lady dance the pirouette.
Pirouette– Rotating right throughout on the toes.
Step 1 left foot side (4th position),
Step 2 Right foot cross behind left foot toe to heal toe turned out (5th position)
Step 3 position held, twist to right end with right foot free
Pas de Bourrée– Rotating right throughout on the toes.
Step 1 Right foot forward
Step 2 Left foot forward toe turned in
Step 3 Right foot forward
The “Nutcracker and the Four Realms” is set in 1875. Clara would be dancing the “new” waltz of the Victorian era. Boston was the hotbed of invention for the modern waltz of the Victorian era. This new waltz also known as the “Boston” or “American” waltz. It was introduced in Boston in 1834 by dancing master Lorenzo Papatino. From there it traveled to Europe changing the waltz as we know it. Waltzing changed from a pirouette to a box with the close of a foot.
In the 1860 publication “The Ball-Room Guide and Call Book” it is called the glide waltz. In America dancing masters embraced turning right and left. In Europe the reverse turn was not as common. Pieces of the reverse turn get introduced in the later variations of the waltz. One of the popular variations that turn right, and left is the Diagonal Waltz as written by Gilbert. These two waltzes fit our modern Clara and Nutcracker.
How to dance the New Boston Glide Waltz:
- Dance position.
The dance position is very similar to the ballroom dance position of today. Gentlemen extend his right arm under the ladies left arm. His left arm is slightly bent palm up offering a place for the lady’s right hand to rest. We danced this with a modern close hold in the video. (hard habit to break)
William DeGarmo describes the hold as, “the gentleman places himself in front of his partner, a little to the right, encircles her waist with his right arm, supporting her firmly, yet gently, and holds her right hand with his left, extending it nearly to the height of the waist, slightly bent a the elbow.”
The glide waltz is the same for both the Gentleman and Lady. The Gentleman begin on step 1 and dances through to step 6 then begins again. The Lady commences on step 4 and dances through to step 3 then begins again.
- Step 1 Glide backward with the left foot, one step bending both knees: count 1.
- Step 2 Draw the right foot back about six inches bey9ond the left, at the same time straightening the knees, by lightly rising on the toes, and turn nearly half round to the right (the way of the clock)by throwing the right shoulder back: count 2.
- Step 3 Complete the half turn by bringing the left heal up to the right, settling down on both: count 3.
- Step 4 Glide the right foot directly forward, bending both knees: count 4.
- Step 5 Advance the left foot directly in front of the right (fourth position) and straighten both knees by slightly rising on the toes: at the same time turn half round: count 5
- Step 6 Complete the half turn by bringing the right heal up to the left, and settling down on both.
Modern Natural Right Box- to fit with the Boston glides, gentlemen start on step 4.
Step 1 Count 1 right foot forward heal lead, commence rise at the end of 1.
Step 2 Count 2 left foot side, toes of both feet, continue to rise. ¼ of a turn to right between step 1&2.
Step 3 Count 3 Right foot closes to left foot toes of both feet continue to rise and lower at the end of 3. 1/8 of a turn to the right
Step 4 Count 4 left foot back toe, heal, toe, commence to rise.
Step 5 Count 5 right foot side toe turned out toes of both feet, continue to rise. 3/8 of a turn in the feet body turns less.
Step 6 Count 6 left foot closes to right continue to rise on toes of both feet lowering to flat of left foot at the end of 6. Body completes turn.
- Waltz one measure, commencing with the left foot making a quarter turn.
- Waltz Forward one measure, commencing with the right foot.
- Reverse waltz one measure, commencing with the left foot forward, making a quarter turn.
- Waltz backward one measure, commencing with the right foot.
- Repeat, commencing as at first.
My shorthand description of the Diagonal Waltz
- 4-6 of the Natural box commenced on the Gentleman’s Left Foot back
(left foot back, right foot side, Left foot closes to right foot, – ¼ turn to the right) ,
Lady’s Right foot.
(right foot forward, left foot side, right closes to left foot – ¼ turn to the right)
- 1-3 of a right foot change step. Gentleman right foot forward, left foot side, right foot closes to left foot, no turn. Ladies left foot forward, right foot side, Left foot closes to right foot, no turn.
- 1-3 of a Reverse Left Box ¼ turn to left. Gentlemen left foot forward, right foot side, Left foot closes to right foot, ¼ turn to left. Ladies right foot forward, left foot side, right foot closes to left foot, ¼ turn to left.
- Right foot back change step. Gentleman right foot back, left foot side, right foot closes to left foot, no turn. Ladies left foot forward, right foot side, left foot closes to right foot, no turn.
Waltz for a turn
Donald Walker wrote in his book Exercises for Ladies 1836, “Vertigo is one of the great inconveniences of the waltz; and the character of this dance, its rapid turnings, and clasping of the dancers, their exciting contact, and the too quick and too long continued succession for lively and agreeable emotions, produces sometimes, in women of a very irritable constitution, syncopes, spasms and other accidents which should induce them to renounce it.” In dancing the french pirouette waltz with William, I did find that i got dizzy dancing successions of right turns. This is evidenced in the outtakes at the end of the film where both William and I had bouts of dizziness. It is best to alternate the march with the waltz to alleviate dizziness. I found that other historical dancers also broke the turns up. See below.
Location & Song
Filmed on location at Adventures in Dance on the super-secret second floor of the Woodlawn shopping center in what was once the Fox movie theater. Adventures in dance is in historic Littleton Colorado. The song we used was the “waltz of the flowers” movement by Tchaikovsky from his Nutcracker ballet.
- Nutcracker- Craig Tomazin
- Clara– Robyn Collins
- Flower Regent– William Hooker
- Narrator – Holly Collins-Tomazin
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