The Esmeralda

(The Esmerelda)



This easy combination of Galop and Polka is a fun way to add some variety to your Polka.

It was likely introduced around 1857, as the first known description was in Hillgrove's 1857 Scholar's Companion [TH57]. Eleven years later, Beadle's Dime Ball-Room Companion (1868) noted that the Esmeralda had "become almost obsolete in fashionable circles, so that a description is not essential" [BC68].

Given that the names of many dance variations at the time were taken from opera, the name likely comes from the title character of Louise Bertin's La Esmeralda (1836), though it's also possible that it could be from the character Esmeralda in Victor Hugo's The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1831).

The Position

Waltz position throughout.

The Dance

Four-Slide Galop, turning on the fourth slide (1-and-2-and-3-and-4), then one full turn of Polka (5-and-6, 7-and-8), turning a total of 540°.

In other words, "slide-and-slide-and-slide-and-turn, slide-and-turn, slide-and-turn."

Repeat opposite, dancing it over the elbows to complete a total of three turns in 16 counts.

Note: Several sources use the name Esmeralda (or Three-Slide Polka) for a basic Four-Slide Galop [e.g., AD85, MW99], with one author noting that what everyone else calls the Esmeralda is "a pleasant way of varying this dance" [AD85].

The Music

Polka music.

One source specifies 104 bpm for the tempo [AD85], while another specifies 116 bpm [WL03]

Several sources [EF59 and EH68] provide music specifically for the dance.


© 2015, 2019 Nick Enge

For more dance descriptions, see our three books on dancing:
The Book of Mixers: 100 Easy-Teach Dances for Getting Acquainted (2022) by Richard Powers and Nick & Melissa Enge,
Cross-Step Waltz: A Dancer's Guide (2019) by Richard Powers and Nick & Melissa Enge, and
Waltzing: A Manual for Dancing and Living (2013) by Richard Powers and Nick Enge.

For full-length teaching videos, visit: University of Dance.

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