Historical Dance Instruction by Walter Nelson

Image" You are a genius at getting people (men) to try something scary and ending up having fun and feeling successful. We bless you for that"

"[My husband] and I had such a wonderful time at your lecture Walter. Thank you so much for putting this great lecture on for our group. [He] has become such a confident social dancer because of you."

Walter and his wife Sheila can provide beginner-friendly instruction in historically correct styles of dance from the early 19th Century (The Regency and Victorian eras) up through the middle of the 20th Century: Ragtime (190-1919), Jazz Age (1920-1929), Great Depression (1930-1939), World War Two (1940-1945).

When Walter has a class scheduled, it will be highlighted on the home page.(Go to home page)

Group and private lessons are available. Contact Walter for availability and pricing.

Walter is located in the San Fernando Valley in Southern California. Programs that require travel will be priced accordingly.

His focus is historical ballroom and social dance styles. If you're looking for modern "International" or "American" style ballroom, Swing (including Shag, Balboa, Jitterbug etc.) or Fred & Ginger style "exhibition dance", that's not really his area and there are others who will do a better job. He focuses on how regular adults danced in social situations.

Listed below are the dances Walter can teach you. Note that while you might recognize many of these dances from the modern ballroom repertoire, Walter does not teach the dances as they are danced today but as they were danced in the past, which is usually very different, and very likely not what most people would expect.

People's understanding of historical dance forms is often blurred by familiarity with current dance styles or by frequent errors in film and TV, and Walter specializes in "Not what you expected".Image

Regency/Empire Era: 1800-1840
(Includes Napoleonic Wars, War of 1812)

  • English Country Dance
  • Early Waltz

Victorian Era: 1840-1900
(Includes American Civil War)

  • Victorian Waltz
  • Polka
  • Mazurka
  • Schottishe
  • Gallope
  • Quadrille and other set dances
  • Virginia Reel/Sir Roger de Coverly

Ragtime Era: 1900-1920
(Includes World War One)

  • One-Step
  • Two-Step
  • Ragtime Waltz
  • Early Tango
  • Novelty and Animal Dances

Jazz Age & "Modern Dances": 1920-1945
(includes Roaring '20s, Depression era, World War Two)

  • Foxtrot
  • One-Step/Peabody
  • Charleston
  • Waltz
  • Tango
  • Rumba
  • Samba
  • Conga
  • Parisian dances (Valse Musette, Java)

Resources
Walter makes a point of sharing his research with the broader vintage dance community. Here are the sites he has created to do that.