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Why did they try to ban the waltz in Europe, and What turned out to be stronger than the prohibitions
Why did they try to ban the waltz in Europe, and What turned out to be stronger than the prohibitions

The waltzes that sound on the wedding day, on Victory Day, during the graduation ball are something especially touching and exciting, and even during the dance itself it is impossible to remain indifferent. Therefore, it survived, despite the opposition of the prim aristocracy and the discontent of the rulers, and not only survived - it became the main and favorite dance at balls.

Indecent provincial dance

Waltz is a pair dance, performed in a closed position, that is, the partners dance facing each other, the woman's right hand and the man's left hand are connected, his right hand rests on her waist. The traditional waltz size is three quarters, although over the centuries of its history there have been other options: 3/8, 6/8, 5/4. Traditionally, the birthplace of the waltz is Germany or Austria, but this is just a convention - in fact, the origins of this dance can be found in many European countries. Indeed, there was once a rather waltz-like Austrian landler, a pair dance very popular in the provinces. The landler's pace was rather slow, the partner circled the lady, sometimes slightly lifting her.

The origins of the waltz can be found in many village dances of different peoples

Similar dances existed among other peoples. In Czech villages, they danced "matenic" and "furiant", and there was also the French "volt", a variation of the Italian "la volta" - this dance originated in the 16th century and soon spread throughout France. While circling, the lady was lifted into the air and even thrown slightly - so that for a short time heavy skirts opened her legs. Volt was also very fond of the French aristocrats, but during the reign of Louis XIII this dance was forbidden - this is how the true ruler of the state, Cardinal Richelieu, fought against licentiousness at court.

V.G. Gilbert. Ball

Opal for village dances, which often really trampled on the existing norms of decent communication between a man and a woman, continued for several more centuries. The peasants were not limited, but such entertainments were not allowed in the drawing rooms of the nobles. The aristocrats of the past were accustomed to dancing decorous minuets, in which it was customary to touch with only one hand, being at a distance from each other. The waltz appeared in a more familiar form for us in the 17th century. It meant a very close contact of the dancers - the man hugged the lady, the partners' faces were opposite each other. Add to this the fact that the ballroom fashion of that era involved open dresses for women. Young people liked the new dance, but they had to resist public opinion.

While the public was getting used to the waltz, caricatures were made of the fans of this dance with might and main

And it agreed that the waltz is depraved, cynical, immoral, its movements were called "madness." Similar views were shared by adherents of strict rules of secular upbringing throughout Europe. But at the same time, the waltz had a magical effect on the dancers - and therefore survived. Sometimes the owners of noble houses ran to the balls of servants to waltz a little. The refusal to accept the waltz, oddly enough, also led to the fact that special establishments began to appear in European capitals where they could dance. One of the first was the Carlisle House Club, opened in London by the opera singer Teresa Cornelis, a home where sumptuous banquets and balls were held. It happened in 1760. And by the eighties of the 18th century, the waltz was already considered a fashionable European dance. True, Victorian England still looked askance at fans to waltz, there was even a rule that a waltz was only for married ladies, it was not suitable for girls.

How waltz was banned in Russia and why it didn't work

The waltz was also known in the Russian Empire - but for a short time it fell into disgrace. This happened during the reign of Paul I, who, according to legend, once slipped and fell during a dance. In 1799, a decree was issued prohibiting "the use of the dance called waltz". The order of the emperor, even though it gave some tyranny, like the previously imposed prohibitions on tailcoats, round hats and shoes with ribbons, but still reflected the perception of the waltz through the eyes of respected nobles of that era. This dance will be perceived as excessively free for several decades.

V.L. Borovikovsky. Portrait of Anna Petrovna Lopukhina

Still, that ban did not last long. The fact is that Pavel Petrovich had a favorite, Anna Petrovna Lopukhina, and this lady was extremely fond of balls, dances and waltz among them. Formally, this dance remained prohibited, in fact, no one could stop its growing influence on the minds and hearts of young nobles.

In general, it should be admitted that it was the secular ladies who loved to dance who introduced the fashion to the waltz and defended the dance. In Britain, for example, against the background of general skepticism, the wife of the Russian ambassador, Dorothy Lieven, nee von Benckendorff, became the "ambassador" of the waltz.

T. Lawrence. Princess von Lieven

Vienna became the capital of the waltz in the 1880s. And it was the Viennese waltz that inspired composers to create outstanding pieces of music. In the 19th century, Johann Strauss Sr. and Johann Strauss Jr., Frederic Chopin, Pyotr Tchaikovsky wrote their great creations “at the pace of a waltz”. And one of the first waltz in Russia was written by Alexander Griboyedov, author of Woe from Wit. In 1824 he composed Waltz No. 2 in E minor.

Alexander Griboyedov and Johann Strauss Jr

Russian and military waltz

They perform their waltz in different parts of the world. In American, they improvise a lot, the couple is often "separated", different supports are used. Spanish includes hand movements characteristic of the dances of this people, which makes this waltz similar to the sarabanda. In the Russian Empire, the waltz gained popularity gradually, but by the beginning of the 20th century, all representatives of aristocratic circles danced it. Educational institutions for officers on a mandatory basis taught pupils the art of dancing the waltz. After the revolution, this dance remained one of the most beloved in the Soviet Union.

War waltz

While the Western world experimented with jazz and other musical and dance novelties, the USSR remained faithful to the pre-revolutionary classics. The waltz was no longer just a dance, poetry was written for it, sang and listened to. Waltzes were perhaps the most touching musical compositions of the war years. It is hard to imagine that someone in the post-Soviet space would be left indifferent to waltzes "In the forest at the front", "Accidental waltz", "On the hills of Manchuria." All of them were created in wartime, "On the Hills of Manchuria" - in 1906, when Russia was at war with Japan. And for the song-waltz "Little Blue Modest Handkerchief" performed by Claudia Shulzhenko, two versions of the text were created. Now it is the second one that is known, the one who once in 1942 brought the singer a young lieutenant, before a concert for front-line soldiers.

That's how danced at balls in Russia 200 years ago, and what dance spoke of the gentleman's serious intentions.

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