La Hongroise

(La Valse Hungroise, Hungarian Valse, Hungroise)

Contemporary Description

The Position

Waltz position. Perhaps transitioning to reversed waltz position (see below).

The Essential Footwork

In all the descriptions below, this essential footwork is described as part of a more complex sequence of footwork. But this is the basis for all of the variations described, and it's also a good variation by itself.

1: The Lead clicks his right heel to his left heel along LOD while the Follow clicks her left heel to her right heel along LOD.

2: The Lead steps side left along LOD while the Follow steps side right along LOD.

3: The Lead closes his right foot to his left with weight while the Follow closes her left foot to her right with weight.

4-5-6: Repeat counts 1, 2, 3.

7-8-9-10-11-12: Redowa around all the way.

Easily verbalized and remembered as "click-step-close, click-step-close, re-do-wa, re-do-wa."

The Timing

Howe 1862 specifies 2/4 time, "slower than a polka, yet somewhat lively." Durang (1847 & 1856) doesn't specify the timing, but given that he presents it as a "Valse Mazourka" directly after another "Valse Mazourka" in 3/4, it wouldn't be unreasonable to interpret it as also being danceable in 3/4 time (which it is).

In 2/4 time, the counts above are quick half-beats like the counts of a polka, i.e., 1-2-3-[pause]. In 3/4 time, the counts above are simply the counts of the music, 1-2-3.

19th Century Variations

Here are the full 19th century variations as they are actually described, based on the essential footwork above.

Durang's Hungroise (1856):

Click-side-close x 2, re-do-wa (half turn), then two half-turning jeté pivots (on counts 1 and 3).

Repeat opposite.

Because it repeats opposite, Durang notes that "the arms may occasionally be reversed when the waltzers are well practised together," during the jeté pivots.

Howe's Hongroise (1862):

Click-side-close x 2, re-do-wa x 2, then:

Eight-slide galop, plus four-slide galop x 2.

Repeat opposite.

Creative Variations

These aren't actually described in the sources below, but they're also fun, and well within the realm of 19th century possibilities.

One and One: Perform one heel click, then one half redowa, similar to the Polka Mazurka. Repeat opposite.

Three and One: Perform three heel clicks, then one half redowa, similar to La Koska. Repeat opposite.

Five-Step Hungroise: Creatively combine the heel click and redowa elements in alternating 3/4 and 2/4 to a song in 5/4 time.

Reverse Hungroise: Reverse any of the variations above, turning to the left instead of the right.

© 2015 Nick Enge

(Click to expand)

Historical Descriptions

La Valse Hongroise (Durang, 1847):

The national waltz of the Hungarians is one of the most pleasing dances in Europe; and, in the country from which it takes its title, is performed on festive occasions with equal zest by the magnate and the peasant. Its distinguishing movements being characterized by simplicity and elegance which have deservedly placed it among the most favored and fashionable dances of the continent. The Hungarian Valse has been always received with pleasure when presented in the ballets; and Rossini has, with his usual taste and brilliancy, assisted its successful introduction in his popular opera of Guillaume Tell.

Thanks to Richard Powers for finding this source.

Hungroise - A Valse Mazourka (Durang, 1856):

The gentleman and lady go off with the Mazourka heel step. To begin, gent strikes his left heel on right heel [1,] then slides the left foot forward, [2,] follow with right foot [3.] The lady using the reverse foot.

For the second step, the gentleman makes a Pas de Basque backward and the lady forward, they then make two jetes -the gent falls on his right foot and the lady on her left foot, and then jete on their other feet, leaving the gent's right foot up and the lady's left foot up, to go off again with the first step of the dance.

The second time the lady does the Pas de Basque backward and the gent forward-and so alternately.

The music marks the changes.

The Valse attitude is never disengaged. The arms may occasionally be reversed when the waltzers are well practised together.

Thanks to Richard Powers for finding this source.

La Hongroise (Howe, 1862):

An Hungarian dance, introduced by H. Kendon.

Hold your lady as usual—commence by holding up the left foot a little—then suddenly rise the right foot, and strike the heels together—then slide the left, and draw up the right to it: repeat this, which will complete two bars—then turn with the Pas de Basque, as in the Redowa, completing four bars,—repeat the four bars,—then galop, eight bars,—then turn, four bars, and reverse, four bars then backward and forward, striking the heels, and repeat the whole.

The music is in two-four time, slower than the Polka, yet somewhat lively.

Thanks to Richard Powers for finding this source.

The Hungarian Valse (Brookes, 1867):

The national valse of the Hungarians performed on festive occasions with equal zest by the magnates and the peasants. It is characterized by simplicity and elegance, and has always been received with pleasure when presented in ballets. Rossini caused its introduction in his opera of "William Tell."

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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