Zulma L'Orientale



A cross between the Bohemian Polka and Varsovienne, this mid-19th century polka variation was described as both "lively" and "graceful."

It was likely introduced around 1858, as it was one of the few dances added between the publication of Thomas Hillgrove's 1857 and 1858 manuals. Music for the dance was also advertised as being new in 1858.

The name is likely taken from the character Zulma in Rossini's early 19th century opera L'Italiana in Algeri. At the time, Algiers was considered part of the Orient.

The Position

Waltz position throughout.

The Dance

One full turn of polka (1-and-2, 3-and-4).

Point leading toe to the floor straight along LOD {4th position} (5), and draw it back to hollow of the trailing foot {3rd position} (6), then finish with half turn of polka (7-and-8) [TH58, EH62, TH63, EH66, TH68, EH68, EH80].*

* An alternate version ends with a half-turning slide-hop (7, 8) [EF59, JR61, CB66].

Repeat opposite to finish the turn.

Hillgrove and Ferrero note that this, like most turning variations, can be reversed, turning to the left instead of the right.

The Music

Polka music.

Several sources (e.g., Ferrero 1859, Renausy 1861, Howe 1868 & 1880) provide music specifically for the dance.

Click "See Original Description" below to see them.


© 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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