Five-Step Waltz

(Valse à Cinq Temps, Five Step,
Waltz in 5/4 Time)

{1846 - Late 19th Century}


Five-Step Waltz is a family of couples dances from the mid to late 19th century couple dance that is danced to music in 5/4 time.

It was first introduced in in Europe by Jules Perrot and Henri Cellarius, and in the United States by Mr. Saracco and Mlle. Angelina, both in 1846. A few additional variations were introduced later in the 19th century.

Perrot and Cellarius' Valse à Cinq Temps (1846)

This is a five-step waltz composed by balletmaster Jules Perrot for the ballet Catarina in 1846 and published by his friend Henri Cellarius in 1847.

1-2-3-4: First four counts of a Leap Waltz.

5: The Lead glides (brushes) the left foot forward and into the air, while the Follow glides (brushes) the right foot closely behind the right, smoothly transitioning into the following leap with the same foot on the next count 1.

The first half turn happens on 1-2-3, the second half turn on count 5 [HC47a, HC47b, HC47c, HC49, CD56, HC58, EH58, LB67].

Cellarius notes that this, like most waltzes, can be reversed, turning to the left instead of the right [HC47a, HC47b, HC47c, HC49, CD56, HC58, LB67]. The easiest way to do this is to change the rotation on the brush step.

Saracco and Angelina's Five-Step Waltz (1846)

This is a different five-step waltz, "invented by Monsieur Saracco, choreographist, and Mademoiselle Angelina, first teacher of the Parisian dancing academy of Mr. Cellarius" around 1846 in the United States.* It takes two well-known mazurka steps of the time, and combines them in a new way to add up to five counts.

1-2-3: First three counts of a Polka Mazurka, "slide (1), cut (2), lift (3)," straight along LOD.

4-5: The last two counts of the Zingerilla, "slide (4), hop (5)," turning halfway to the right [DC54, EF59, EH62, TH63, DF78, JS80, LC82, MK83].

Some versions have a leap instead of a slide on count 4 [SA81, CR85, AD85, MG90]. One version strikes the heels during the cut on count 2 [SA81]. Another has a heel click on count 3 [MG90].

Like most waltzes, this can be reversed, turning to the left instead of the right on count 4 [EF59, EH62, TH63].

* Mr. Saracco and Mlle. Angelina's innovation was announced in music published in 1846, but the earliest description we have is later [i.e., DC54].

Cartier's New Five-Step Waltz (1879)

This description is interesting because it splits the five counts into 2 + 3 instead of 3 + 2.

1-2: Slide-and (1-and), slide-and (2-and) along LOD.*

4-5: Waltz halfway around to the right (3, 4, 5) [CB79, PC82].

Though not explicitly described, this can also be turned to the left.

* Based on similar descriptions at the time, this is the most likely interpretation of "two slides sidewise," but a later variation has a single side, close on 4, 5 after waltzing 1, 2, 3, so that's also a possibility. An early 20th century "Five Step Waltz" also takes this form, in 3/4 time (side, close, waltz-2-3 in 1, 3, 4, 5, 6 timing) [FC14a, FC14b].

Dodworth's New Five-Step Waltz (1885)

This is late 19th century innovation on Saracco and Angelina's original:

1-2-3: Slide-and-slide, cut (1-and-2, 3).

4-5: Leap around, turning halfway to the right (4), and hop (5) [AD85, MG90].

Just like the original, this can also be turned to the left.

The Music

Music in 5/4 time [HC47a, HC47b, HC47c, HC49, DC54, HC58, EF59, EH62, TH63, DF78, CB79, JS80, SA81, LC82, PC82, MK83, CR85, AD85, MG90].

For a list of twenty 19th century five-step waltzes with free downloads of the sheet music, see Five-Step Waltz Music.

In the mid 19th century, Cellarius specifies 152 bpm [HC47a, HC47b, HC47c, HC49, HC58]. In the late 19th century, Dodworth and Gilbert specify 144 bpm [AD85, MG90].


© 2015, 2018 Nick Enge

For more, including descriptions of 25 different waltzes and hundreds of variations thereof, see Waltzing: A Manual for Dancing and Living a book by Richard Powers and Nick Enge.

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