The German “Landler”, a folk dance, is supposed to be the forerunner of the Waltz. During the 18th Century, a dance developed, which was called the walzen, German for to roll, turn or glide. The Walzen was met with outraged indignation by the older generation when first introduced into the ballrooms of the world in the early 19th century because it was the first dance where the couple danced in a modified closed position-with the man’s hand around the waist of the girl. Regardless, the Waltz became popular through many parts of Germany and Austria. The Waltz was given a tremendous boost around 1830 by two great Austrian composers – Franz Lanner and Johann Strauss: they set the standard for the Viennese waltz (a very fast version of the Waltz.
The first time the waltz was officially danced in the United States was in Boston in 1834 and danced at a leisurely 90 beats per minute. It evolved in America around 1870, and by the 1920’s had slowed down even more to ¾ time with strong accent on the first beat and a basic “box” pattern of forward-side-together-back-side-together. This version of the Waltz retained the characteristic traveling and turning figures and the slower tempo but allowed for more figures including a dip. International style Waltz, like Foxtrot, is danced entirely is closed hold and is most commonly seen in the competitions. American style opens up and allows for under arm turns and much more variety of figures. Waltz is popularly known as the “traditional American wedding dance” and is often used for Father/Daughter and Mother/Son dances. Its characteristic undulating rise and fall technique and shoulder sways gives the dance an oceanic or floating quality.
Read more about Waltz on Wikipedia.