History of Round Dance

Dancing on ice evolved from the 'Viennese School' of figureskating at the end of the 19th century. The WEV (Wiener Eislaufverein, Vienna Ice Skating Club) was founded 7th February 1867. Shortly afterwards ice skating became a popular leisure activity among the Viennese population.

Jackson Haines' performances, an American ballet dancer and figure skater, helped the ice rink to gain popularity in 1868. Haines performed the beloved Viennese Waltz on the ice, which was greeted by a warm welcome from the Viennese.

Similar to performances on the dance floor, costume parties and so called 'Cotillons' (dancing games) were held.

Soon 'Tanzcorsos' became an integral part of Viennese social life. At fixed times a military brass band would play dance music .

While figure skating among men and women as well as pair skating became a competitive sport - the Viennese ice skating clubs played an important role in establishing those disciplines - ice dancing solemnly remained a social gathering till the 1920's.

In 1929 international competition rules were established and ice dancing was finally considered as a discipline of figure skating.

Vienna has been home to the original form of ice dancing - the round dance. Most of the step sequences being performed nowadays go back to the beginnings.

Technical improvements in the production of ice skates and a change in musical taste made significant improvements possible. Before turns were done on two feet and crossovers were not commonly performed.

The Mohawk has not been known in the beginnings of ice dancing. People executed turns known as 'Gegendreier' (similar to counter turns). They were the bases for the so called 'Amerikaner', similar to a Mohawk.

New musical genres made way for new dances, like the tango.

Step sequences have been passed on from generation to generation, often within the family. Though a lot of dances are documented in writing, they are mainly passed on orally and by practising together on the ice.