American Waltz is a sub style of waltz that can be recognized by its prominent use of the open position. The original waltz was a folk dance before it was integrated into ballroom dancing. The age and popularity of the waltz and the fact that it featured a closed position, allowed the waltz to serve as the foundation for several ballroom dances. The earliest sources describe the waltz as a sliding or gliding dance from the 16th century. Hans Sachs, an early observer noted that the large wild steps of the peasants had been refined by those in higher society to shorter more elegant movements.
This dance visited the Austrian Court in Vienna for Peter the Great in 1698. Although, the minuet, a more proper dance, was more popular in the halls of nobles, the waltz spread quickly throughout Bavaria. In the late 18th century Don Curzio noted that Viennese women danced with celebrated grace and endurance. The dance at this time was far bouncier with much more rotation. The progression of the dance once again refined the steps so that they now glided across the floor. This was the last major refinement before the waltz began to split into several different versions.
The American Waltz differs from the International Standard Waltz in many respects. Most notably, American Waltz often involves an almost complete loss of contact between dance partners during some of the movements whereas International Standard Waltz does not permit leaving closed position. Open rolls, a pattern of alternating follower position to the lead's right and lefts sides are a good example of an American Waltz dance movements that feature open contact.Click here for a list of American Waltz classes offered.