Couples in circle facing ballroom direction, number of pairs unlimited
At the beginning the dancers hold the left hand of their partners with their right hand, elbows bent, so that the joined hands are situated approximately in breast-height. The outside arms either hang lose or can be bent, resting the hands in the waist. Especially the ladies prefer the latter, often resting the right hand a bit further on the back (Offene Volkstanzhaltung).
Landler-steps throughout, which are small walking- steps, one each beat, dancers beginning left, their partners right (outside feet!), each step equally weighed down on the whole sole.
Zillertaler Landler (It has its own melody) or any other Landler if not available.
Landlers always have an introduction of 4 bars and then begin in sets of 8 bars.
3 beats to a bar
Not all Landlers use these 4 bars for dancing. Often the pairs just wait or walk around the circle, but in the Zillertaler Landler the joined hands are swung forward, backward and then lifted so that the dancer can turn his partner underneath. He does so once, clockwise. In the fourth bar there is still time for a short reverence to each other.
After the introduction the dance begins immediately with the first figure.
Each figure lasts 8 measures, the change is clearly noticeable by the music, that quite often plays a new melody. The previous figure should always be ended by the eighth bar so that the new figure starts at the first bar of the next set. The Zillertaler Landler has 9 figures closing with a waltz. The latter is different from the Viennese Waltz or the English Waltz, though similar. It is a so-called Landler-Waltz, which is also danced with the above described steps.
The figures have interesting names, which partly derive of the agricultural background of the valley and partly are an expression of courting. Yoke, Taking the lead and Window are all repeated vice versa, which reduces the actual number of figures to 6.
The starting position of each figure should always be taken up at the end of the previous figure without any pause, so that the start of the next figure is beginning with the first bar of the next set. That’s why I describe how to get into right position at the end of each figure. Both hands respectively all four are always joined unless otherwise specified.
Twirling the ladies (Dirndl drahn or Radeln) (8 measures/bars)
The dancer walks forward (small steps at each beat of a bar) twirling his partner clockwise in front of him under his lifted right arm. Recommended is half a turn per bar, she facing her partner every second bar.
At the end the joined hands are lowered in front of the dancer so that his partner now is facing him. At the same time the free hands are joined and held close to the other (joined) hands. Without stopping the movement of the arms flows into the next figure.
Swinging the arms (Armschwingen) (8 measures/bars)
The dancers walk forward in ballroom direction, their partners backwards in front of the dancer while they swing their arms sidewards, once at each bar, the first swing towards the middle of the circle during the first bar.
Yoke (Joch) (8 measures/bars)
What it looks like when finished: Partners stand right shoulder to right shoulder, inner arms stretched behind the partner’s neck, outer arms bent, hands joined and resting on the shoulder near the neck.
Forming the Yoke:
The movements should be done without any hectic, flowing from one to the next, partly -if possible- at the same time, never dropping or losing the hands.
At first the dancer turns his partner to the right (cw) with his lifted left hand while he stretches his right arm to rest it on the front of his partner’s right shoulder for a short while. Simultaneously he lifts his left hand over both heads, turns himself slightly to the left and lowers it until it rests on his own neck/shoulder area. The other hand automatically slips to the same position on the girl’s neck/shoulder area. The partners are now situated right shoulder to right shoulder.
The first two, three or four bars are used to form the Yoke. As soon as the partners are in this position they dance clockwise around their central point.
Yoke counterclockwise (Joch) (8 measures/bars)
Now the Yoke has to be formed the other way round. In this position they dance counterclockwise around their central point.
What it looks like when finished:
Partners stand left shoulder to left shoulder, inner arms stretched behind the partner’s neck, outer arms bent, hands joined and resting on the shoulder near the neck .
Forming the Yoke.
The dancer turns his partner nearly twice to the left (ccw) with his right hand, while he stretches his left arm to rest it on the front of his partner’s left shoulder for a moment. Simultaneously he lifts his right hand over both heads, turns himself slightly to the right and lowers it until it rests on his own neck/shoulder area. The other hand automatically slips to the same position on the girl’s neck/shoulder area. The partners are now situated left shoulder to left shoulder.
Finally the dancer lifts his arms and turns his partner to the right until they are facing each other. This flows without stopping into the next figure.
Stile (Überstiegl) (8 measures/bars)
The dancer lowers the hands, his right and her left staying in breast height, whereas his left and her right hands are lowered further down just above the ground. At the same time she kneels down on her right knee. The dancer now steps over her right arm, first with his right foot, beginning to turn himself to the left and then with his left foot. Then his partner rises again while he continues to turn backwards, with his upper body still bent forward. (He does two turns altogether, one between his partner’s arms and one under both her arms.) After the first turn is finished, he rises for a moment between her arms, bends down again putting all four hands on his right hip for a moment, continues the second turn and rises upright as soon as he is facing his partner. Now he lifts the arms and turns his partner once to the right (cw, in the eighth bar).
Finally he lowers his left hand and makes a hardly noticeable hand change taking his partner’s hands right in right and left in left, rights above lefts.
Leading the ladies (Dirndl nachführn) (8 measures/bars)
The dancer, moving his right hand above his head and then forward in breast height, leads his partner behind his back to his right side, stretches his right and her right arm (slightly bent) in front of him, while he holds her left hand on his left hip. In this position the partners dance counterclockwise around the dancer as the rotation axis.
Leading the ladies counterclockwise (Dirndl nachführn) (8 measures/bars)
The dancer steps on the right side of his partner, stretches his left and her left arm in front of him and holds her right hand on his right hip. In this position they dance clockwise around the dancer as the rotation axis.
At the end the dancer slips backwards under the right arm of his partner and lifts all four hands.
Window (Fensterl) (8 measures/bars)
The dancer turns his partner twice to the right (cw) and forms the Window. The joined left hands are lowered while the right arms are bent at the elbow, upper arms horizontal and close together and lower arms vertical forming the window. The partners look at each other through that Window. In this position they dance clockwise around their central point.
Window counterclockwise (Fensterl) (8 measures/bars)
The dancer lifts all four hands, turns his partner three times to the left (ccw) and forms the Window. The joined right hands are lowered while the left arms are bent at the elbow, upper arms horizontal and close together and lower arms vertical forming the window. The partners look at each other through the Window. In this position they dance counterclockwise around their central point.
Waltz (Schlusswalzer) (8 measures/bars)
The dancer lifts the hands and turns his partner to the right, once with all four hands and once with the right hands, while he drops the left hands. Then he also lowers the right hands, transferring the girl’s right hand into his left and completes ballroom hold. From the third bar onward he waltzes his partner until the music plays the final bars, which can be identified quite easily by a special tune. In the last two beats he lifts his partner stemming her above his shoulders. This is quite an acrobatic task and should only be attempted if both partners wish to. (In Horak’s description it is not further specified, the following is often seen nowadays:
He grips her with his right hand under the armpit while she props herself with her left hand on his right shoulder. At the same time he offers her his left hand, in which she stems her right hand. At the moment of stemming her up, she should jump.)
This dance comes from the Ziller-Valley in the Tyrol, Austria. It was contributed by Heinrich Klauser of Ginzling in 1943 and collected by Karl Horak. Some of its figures are said to come from the Ahrn-Valley, which is leading to the south on the other side of the Alps. The farmers used to cross over frequently when they drove their cattle to the high meadows in summer.
The river Ziller is a tributary of the river Inn and flows into it near Jenbach, while the river Ahrn flows into the Rienz, a tributary of the Eisack, near Brunneck in the South-Tyrol.
- Karl Horak, Tiroler Volkstanzbuch, Musikverlag Helbling, Innsbruck, 1974.
- Translated and supplemented by: Sissy Banner, Amstetten - NÖ., Austria