Open Waltz: The Basic
Six steps on six beats, even timing. 1-2-3-4-5-6.
This is simply walking in waltz time, starting on opposite feet: his left and her right, or his right and her left (both on inside feet, or both on outside feet). Every step is on the balls of your feet, rather than flat-footed.
Optional (But Highly Recommended) Styling: Accent the first beat, by making it longer and lower and making the second two beats shorter and even higher on balls of your feet, i.e. Down-Up-Up and Long-Short-Short.
There are many things you can do in this position: turns for both people in both directions, free spins, rollaways. We gave both people several turns.
Cross Step Waltz: The Basic
Six steps on six beats, even timing. 1-2-3-4-5-6.
Leads: 1 – Cross step with right foot in front of left. 2 – Side step left. 3 – Replace right. 4 – Cross step with left foot in front of right. 5 – Side step right. 6 – Replace left.
Follows: Same as lead, just shifted three counts, i.e. 1 – Cross step with left foot in front of right. 2 – Side step right. 3 – Replace left. 4 – Cross step with right foot in front of left. 5 – Side step left. 6 – Replace right.
The lead crosses on 1, and plants his feet there, while leading the follow to continue doing the basic step. If the follow is comfortable doing the step on her own, the lead can let go with his right hand and lead her back and forth using only his left hand, giving her more room to play. The lead can rejoin the follow on any count 1 and go back to the basic.
Follows: You have a choice: you can continue with the basic step, or can add various embellishments, such as: Sweeps (Cross left on 1, then sweep the right foot around in a continuous motion to the cross on 4, then sweep the left foot around in a continuous motion to cross on 1, etc), Touches (Cross left on 1, touch (without weight) right foot right on 2, hold 3, cross right on 4, touch (without weight) left foot on 5, hold 6, etc), Kicks (Like Touches, except that you kick your touching foot back, as if kicking your behind, on 3 and 6).
Leads: You have no control over what she does in Follower’s Solo. You just get to watch your beautiful partner dance. Unfortunately, you don’t get to do the fancy Follower’s Solo steps yourself, unless you learn to follow, which I highly recommend.
Slightly Turning Basic
Do the basic step, but this time, the whole couple turns a little bit clockwise each time. Start small, and work your way up to whatever degree of turning feels comfortable. (Eventually, the idea will be to travel by turning 180° each time, but we’ll save that for later.)
Toss Across (a.k.a. Flip Flops)
On 1, let go of the leading hand, and do the primary cross step in an open (almost side-by-side) position, with lead’s right and follow’s left arms around each other’s shoulders, other hands free. On the secondary cross step, do the opposite, in open position with lead’s left and follow’s right arms around each other’s shoulders. On both sides, the lead’s arm is below the follow’s. Retrieve leading hands for one of the primary cross steps to return to the basic.
Now that we can cross step waltz comfortably in place, let’s make it travel a bit.
Footwork is the same as the basic, except the lead gently steers the follow to overturn so that the cross steps in front actually travel diagonally back toward line of direction. He does this while still pulling her forward to cross in front, rather than pushing her backward, as that makes the cross steps very hard. His cross steps travel diagonally forward. Steer carefully.
We can also travel simply by walking. Take the primary cross step, then continue walking forward, tightening up the frame and clearly pointing the hands toward line of direction. The follow can have an optional outside turn on 4-5-6. To get back to the basic, lead a clear primary cross, side, replace on 1-2-3, and a clear secondary cross step back against line of direction on 4-5-6.
Now that can dance cross step waltz in place, and travel around the room, let’s explore a different kind of basic waltz step, the box step.
Box Step Waltz – Basic Box Step
Six steps on six counts, even timing. 1-2-3-4-5-6.
Face partner squarely, feet slightly offset. Feet from the lead’s left: lead’s left, follow’s right, lead’s right, follow’s left on four parallel tracks.
Leads: 1 – Step forward into partner with left foot. 2 – Step right with right foot. 3 – Close up with left foot. 4 – Step back away from partner with right foot. 5 – Step left with left foot. 6 – Close up with right foot.
Follows: Same as the lead, just shifted three counts, i.e., 1 – Step back away from partner with right foot. 2 – Step left with left foot. 3 – Close up with right foot. 4 – Step forward into partner with left foot. 5 – Step right with right foot. 6 – Close up with left foot.
Same as the basic, except the whole couple turns counterclockwise. Step diagonally forward to the left, diagonally back to the right. Start small, and work your way up to whatever degree of turning feels comfortable.
Quarter Turning Box
Same as the Turning Basic, but make it neater by turning 90° in three counts, returning to the same orientation at the end of a full box.
Traveling Box (Straight)
Similar to the basic, except the the lead steps forward on both 1 and 4, the follow steps back on both 1 and 4. Travels forward (for the lead), backward (for the follow). Get into it with a clear lead into the follow on any 4, get out of it with a clear lead into the lead on 4. Steer carefully.
Traveling Box (Serpentine), a.k.a. Back Zig Zag
Similar to the straight traveling box, except the lead steps forward with a cross-step in front, crossing outside of the follow’s feet. The follow steps backward with a cross-step in back, parallel to the lead’s cross step. Get into it with a clear body lead for the cross step on 1, get out of it by crossing on 4 then collecting feet and facing your partner squarely on 5-6 to go straight forward on 1. Steer carefully.
We can also travel simply by walking. Finish a full box step, then start walking perpendicular to the frame (lead’s left), tightening up the frame, clearly pointing the hands toward line of direction. The follow can have an optional outside turn on 1-2-3. To get back to the basic, lead the follow around in front on 4-5-6, and lead a clear box step on count 1.
Now that we know how to dance in place and travel with both cross step and box step waltz, let’s see how we can transition between them.
Transitions Between Box Step and Cross Step
To transition from box step waltz to cross step waltz, dance half of a box while loosening the frame and preparing to lead a clear cross step on count 4. Make it a clear body lead pulling forward. Now you’re dancing cross step waltz, shifted three counts (starting 4-5-6, rather than 1-2-3).
To transition from cross step waltz to box step waltz, dance half of a cross step waltz basic while firming up the frame and preparing to lead a clear box step on count 4. It helps if you make it a turning box step, as the CCW turning action rarely happens in cross step waltz and alerts the follow that something different is happening. Now you’re dancing box step waltz, shifted three counts (starting 4-5-6, rather than 1-2-3).
We can also transition between the waltzes by transitioning from one dance into waltz walk, and then out of waltz walk into the other dance.
It’s also perfectly acceptable, if not quite as elegant, to stop, wait for the next count 1, and start the other dance.