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The name comes from the Czech name rejdovák, derived from rej ("whirl").[dubious ] Originally a folk dance, it first appeared into the salons in Prague in 1829 and fell out of fashion by 1840, though in the meantime it had spread beyond Bohemia.
Thomas Hillgrove states that the redowa was introduced to London ballrooms in 1846. Like other popular ballroom dances of the mid-nineteenth century, including the polka, it was danced in Paris prior to its appearance in London.
A basic redowa step contains one long reaching step and two small leap-steps. The long reaching step can be danced on either the 1 or the 2 of each bar of music, depending on what feels best with the tune that is playing.
Cellarius (1849) describes a three-part redowa consisting of a pursuit part ("la poursuite"), followed by the style of waltz commonly described as the redowa, and ending with a particular type of valse à deux temps. During the "pursuit" the partners hold each other hands facing each other and moving up and down at will and doing the "balance" forward and back, with lady following the cavalier.
Dancers generally start in closed (waltz) position with the outside hands pointing line of direction. (This description is for the case when the "reach" step is on count two.) To begin a redowa, the leader will take a small leap step (count 1) around in front of his/her partner with the left foot so that the leader is backing, then take a long scooping or gliding step (count 2) straight back with the right (pointing right toe, bending the knee of the left leg, keeping the torso upright), followed by another small leap step (count 3) with the left to complete a 180-degree turn clockwise. The second half of the six-count pattern begins with a small leaping step (count 4) along the line of dance, so the leader faces forward on the line of dance. The left leg now reaches straight forward (count 5; pointing left toe, bending right knee, etc.), directly under the partner's right leg, which is extended back. A small leap (count 6) onto the right foot completes the pattern, completing the second half (180 degree) turn in preparation for the next six count pattern.
The follow is the opposite portion of the lead's sequence. The follower's movement on the first three beats are essentially the same movements the leader makes on the second set of three beats, and vice versa.
- "Redowa". Merriam-Webster. Retrieved 3 October 2017.
- John Tirrell. "Redowa". In Deane L. Root. Grove Music Online. Oxford Music Online. Oxford University Press. (subscription required)
- Thomas Hillgrove, An American Ballroom Companion: Dance Instruction Manuals
- Thomas Hillgrove: An American Ballroom Companion: Dance Instruction Manuals
- (section in French) An American Ballroom Companion: Dance Instruction Manuals