La Gitana

(La Carlowitska, The Gitana Waltz, The Gintana Waltz)



This is a tricky but fun Mazurka variation that combines a turning Pas Glissé with a Polka Mazurka.

It was likely introduced around 1859, as the first known description was in Ferrero's 1859 The Art of Dancing, Historically Illustrated [EF59], where it was called "The Gitana Waltz." This name likely refers to the ballet La Gitana (1839), in which Madame Taglioni danced a Mazurka (see illustration above).

Several years later, it appeared in Hillgrove's 1863 Complete and Practical Guide to the Art of Dancing under the name La Carlowitzka [TH63]. The origin of this second name is unknown. (There are several people and places named Carlowitz in the mid-19th century, but none is compelling enough to credit without further evidence.)

Elias Howe calls it "The Gintana Waltz," which, given that Howe's description is a copy of Ferrero's earlier one, is likely just a typo [EH62].

The Position

Waltz position throughout.

The Dance

A combination of rotating hops (Pas Glissé) with the Polka Mazurka.

1: The Lead slides his left foot along LOD while the Follow slides her right foot along LOD. Several sources specify that the trailing foot (his right, her left) is raised a little from the floor [TH63, CB66].

2: The Lead hops on his left foot while the Follow hops on her right. (Each of these and the following hops glides forward, turning more and more to the right.)

3: The Lead hops on his left foot while the Follow hops on her right.

Over the course of the preceding three counts, the couple turns 180° clockwise.

4-5-6: The Lead does exactly what the Follow did, and vice-versa, turning another 180° clockwise, so that the leading hands are pointed along LOD again.

7-8-9-10-11-12: Polka Mazurka, turning 180° clockwise at the end of 6 counts, for a total of 540° in 12 counts.

Repeat it all with the opposite foot.

Verbalized as "slide-hop-hop, slide-hop-hop, slide-cut-lift, slide-cut-leap."

Several sources note that "this dance admits of all the changes of direction," which means it can also be reversed, turning to the left (or alternating right and left turns) [e.g., EF59, EH62].

The Music

Mazurka music.

Elias Howe [EH68, EH80] provides 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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