Waltz (Rotary Waltz)

NEW: Videos of rotary waltz variations can be found at: libraryofdance.org/dances/waltz

A collection of contemporary rotary waltz figures.

Clockwise Rotary Waltz (a.k.a. Natural Waltz, a.k.a. Right Turning Waltz)

  • Rotary Waltz
  • Follow’s Outside Turn on 4-5-6 (He Passes Inside)
  • Follow’s Free Spin on 4-5-6
  • Swing Out on 4-5-6
  • Follow’s Initiative: Lead’s Inside Turn on 1-2-3
  • Infinity Turn (He Inside 1-2-3, She Outside 4-5-6)*
  • He Goes to Shadow Position on 1
  • Outside Turn to Shadow Position on 1
  • Right Hand Outside Turn (from Shadow)
  • Windmill (from Shadow)
  • Tandem Free Spins (from Shadow)
  • Lead’s Wrap with Cradle Exits
  • Hop Waltz (Leap Waltz)
  • Side Step Redowa (Second Position)
  • Redowa (Fourth Position)
  • Mazurka (see below)
  • Viennese Step (Cantor Time Hop Heel Click, Waltz Around)
  • Air Redowa (Redowa Viennese Step)
  • Shadow Waltzing

Counter-Clockwise Rotary Waltz (a.k.a. Reverse Waltz, a.k.a. Left Turning Waltz)

  • Reverse Waltz
  • Follow’s Inside Turn on 4-5-6 (She Passes Outside)
  • Left Hand Outside Turn (from Shadow)
  • Reverse Windmill (from Shadow)
  • Reverse Tandem Free Spins (from Shadow)
  • Reverse Hop Waltz (Leap Waltz)
  • Reverse Redowa
  • Reverse Shadow Waltzing

Optional Styling

Here are two different waltz styles you can try. See what you like, and what your partners like.

  • Smooth Waltzing: Waltz with a smooth rotation all the way around, so that someone looking at your upper bodies will have no idea what count you are on, unless they are counting the music, or carefully analyzing your orientation.
  • Emphatic Waltzing: Give yourself and your partner a little extra surge of rotation on counts 1 and 4, so you really fly around.

Here are two other styles you can try. One lets you waltz with less effort to faster music, and the other lets you travel faster around the room to the same tempo of music.

  • Less Effort for Faster Music: On the lead’s first half, and the follow’s second half, the left-right-left steps can be replaced by a pivot on the left foot which is assisted by the right foot on the second count. Plant your left foot, hook your right foot around and paddle your self around on the second count, keeping weight on the left foot, as your partner scoots around with their usual right-left-right steps (careful not to pull you over).
  • Faster Velocity at the Same Tempo: On count 2, and count 5, exaggerate the side step (toward LOD) in back-side-close or forward-side-close. You can also exaggerate the pulling back and swinging around that happens on the lead’s 1 and the follow’s 4.

If you want to travel around the room even slightly faster, you can also replace the closing step that travels line of direction with a tight cross step in front, giving you a few extra inches of travel for each rotation. This is also called a lock step, as you are turning into the cross and your feet would lock together if not for the next step backwards.

  • Cross Step (Lock Step) on Lead’s 3, Follow’s 6 in CCW Waltz
  • Cross Step (Lock Step) on Lead’s 6, Follow’s 3 in CW Waltz

Note: The crossing lock step is usually only taught in CCW Waltz (Reverse Waltz), because that’s how it has been danced historically. The crossing lock step in CW Waltz, on the other hand, is not historically accurate, and is thus frowned upon by pedantic ballroom dance teachers. However, the majority of people I have watched on the social dance floor nowadays (including social dance teachers who teach CW Waltz without a cross step) take the cross step in front on the follow’s 3 and lead’s 6, whether they realize it or not. As it is perfectly functional, and in my opinion, slightly easier and more fun to dance CW Waltz with a cross step than without one, I want to assure you that CW Waltz with a cross step is just as good as CW Waltz without a cross step – even better, if you happen to like it.

Mazurka Steps

  • Stationary Pas de Basque
  • Travelling Pas de Basque (on 1)
  • Travelling Pas de Basque (on 2)
  • Mazurka Cadence
  • Mazurka Step (Slide, Cut, Lift)
  • Polka Redowa (Slide, Cut, Leap/Turn)
  • Polka Mazurka (Slide, Cut, Lift, Slide, Cut, Leap/Turn)
  • La Cosca (Three Mazurkas, Turn on Fourth)
  • La Gitana (Pas Glissé Turning Triple Hops, Polka Mazurka)
  • Hongroise (Heel Click, Heel Click, Redowa Around)
  • Heel Click, Heel Click, Heel Click, Half Redowa
  • Three Slide Gallop (1 and 2 and Turn)
  • Newport (Back/Front, Side-Close, Side-Close (1, and-2, and-3))
  • Yorke (Side-Close, Side-Close, Lift (1-and, 2-and, 3), Bring Lifted Foot In, Glide, Cut, Leap (and, 1, 2, 3))

Five-Step Waltz

In 5/4 time, for example, to Dave Brubeck’s “Take Five.”

Some of the following variations are vintage, taught by Richard Powers based on dance manual descriptions. The redowa variations are Richard “hacks.” The asterisked variations are Nick “hacks.”

  • Five Step Waltz (Just Waltz, Stepping 1, 2, 3, 4, and, 5)
    • Pivot Version (Waltz 1-2-3, Single 1/2 Pivot Step for 45)
    • Step-Hop Version (Waltz 1-2-3, Step-Hop 4-5)*
    • Viennese Step Version (Waltz 1-2-3, Hop-Click 4-5)*
    • Sweep Version (Waltz 1-2-3, Leap-Sweep 4-5)
  • Five Step Reverse Waltz*
  • Five Step Mazurka (Mazurka 1-2-3, Step Hop 4-5)
  • Five Step Redowa (Just Redowa, Stepping 1, 2, 3, and, 4, 5)
  • Five Step Reverse Redowa
  • Five-Step Air Redowa (Redowa Viennese Step)
  • Five Step Pivot Waltz (Waltz Three, Pivot Two to Turn 1.5 Times)*
  • Five Step Gitana (Three Plus Two Glissades, Five Step Mazurka)*

Seven-Step Waltz*

In 7/4 time, for example, to Akeboshi’s “Rusty Lance.”

All of the following variations are Nick “hacks,” having been invented one night in his living room based on his knowledge of waltzing in 3/4 and 5/4. They may or may not have been danced before, in recent times or historically. All I know is that they work and they’re fun!

Waltzing Holds

  • Waltz Position
  • Two Shoulder Hold (For Super Speed Waltzes, Pivots)
  • Crossed Hands
  • Left in Left Over Head (Wedding Cake)
  • Airplane Waltzing (Actually Vintage!)
  • Slow French Waltzing (Side by Side, Right Arms Across Waists)


  • CW Rotary to CCW Rotary: Back the Follow (3 counts), or Back the Lead (3 counts), or Lead’s Wrap to Unwind to CCW Free Spin
  • CCW Rotary to CW Rotary: Back the Follow (3 counts, plus 3 counts around), or Back the Lead (2 counts)
  • CW Rotary to Cross Step: (1) Pivot, Pivot, Aim, Cross, (2) He Goes on 1, Open Waltz Walk 4, Close Up on 1, Cross Step on 4
  • Cross Step to CW Rotary: (1) Walk, Walk, Walk, Rotary, or (2) Cross, Pivot, Pivot, Rotary (3) He Goes on 1, Open Waltz Walk 4, Close Up on 1, Rotary on 4
  • CCW Rotary to Cross Step: Open Up on 4 and Pivaloop on 1
  • Cross Step to CCW Rotary: Inside Turn in Front on 1, Waltz on 4
  • CW Rotary to Shadow Position: He Goes on 1
  • Shadow Position to CW Rotary: Outside Turn on 4-5-6


For rotary waltz music, see Dancing Tunes – Rotary Waltz and Dancing Tunes – Redowa Waltz.

Rotary Waltz in Other Times

Rotary Waltz can also be danced in foxtrot (slow-quick-quick) time to Club Two Step and Foxtrot music.

Rotary Waltz is called a Spin Turn in Club Two Step, and Reverse Waltz is called a Half-Turning Box in Foxtrot.


Many variations learned from Richard Powers and Joan Walton. Others picked up on the dance floor. Others made up by Nick and Danielle (*).


Know another good rotary waltz variation? Share it below!

Want More?

For more detailed instruction in social waltzing, check out Waltzing: A Manual for Dancing and Living by Richard Powers and Nick Enge.

One thought on “Waltz (Rotary Waltz)

  1. Joan Walton says:

    Love your page, Nick! Best wishes for you both down at UT-Austin.


    PS – thanks for the acknowledgement at the bottom of your waltz page :)

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