Truschner: Viennese Ball culture is unique

It is a huge honor to be able to contribute to the so-called Ball of all Balls

Dominik Truschner, dance master and choreographer, committee dance master of the Vienna Opera Ball in interview for talks about his career and the challenge of being the master of ceremony Opernball.

How did you personally find the initiation from the Committee to be a dance master for the Vienna Opera Ball (Opernball)?

To be completely honest, it was a special joy for me. From the very beginning, I could not believe that this could ever have happened. However, after Mrs. Großbauer’s first email, when there was not any chance of even talking about the Opernball, my wife gave me special support about this possibility. Now I can say it is a huge honor to be able to contribute to the so-called Ball of all Balls!


Perhaps the task itself is not particularly different from the extent of the tasks done during the opening balls in which I have, so far, participated. But there are certainly differences in median observation, followed by ‘Wieneropernball’. Every comment, every activity, every little thing is observed with much more attention. This, of course, means that I shall have to be much more dedicated when it comes to attention and thinking. We will actually have only one performance, without a repeat. Since the entire broadcast is live, the audience surely does not want to see the glow that Opernball radiates being diminished because of hasty and wrong steps.

According to your opinion, why is the Vienna ballroom culture so famous throughout the world?

“Vienna Ball” – the broader term for this is immaterial cultural heritage – is an important part of our cultural identity for me. Ball culture in Vienna, with its special form, is simply unique. An old advertising phrase says “often copied, but never reached!” This also applies to the Vienna Ball. While the majority of balls outside Austria are mainly dinner-balls, here – the dance takes the first place.

In addition, the Vienna balls consist of a special opening by the so-called debutants, whose age should be between 16 and 24 years, the entrance of honorary guests, a short greeting, and the Waltz followed with the world-famous “Alles Walzer!”

The more formal the Ball, the more formal the wardrobe. Generally, a tailcoat is considered obligatory for the Opernball

Diversity balls – almost a branch of the profession, interest circles, etc. organizing their own ball – testifies of the popularity of such events. Classic Ball season is during the carnival and ends on Tuesday on the so-called “Faschingdienstag”. But balls are held through the year in Vienna, so up to 600 balls can be held in one year, where thousands of guests can enjoy themselves.

Another important factor in each Ball is the requirement to wear certain outfits. While the ladies usually dress very elegantly – meaning a long evening dress – which is as standard, and during the smaller balls cocktail dresses are permitted. On the other hand, men can choose cutaway, a tux and often dark, ideally a black suit. The more formal the Ball, the more formal the wardrobe. Generally, a tailcoat is considered obligatory for the Opernball.

How long should the debutantes prepare?

In essence, it is envisaged that couples/debutantes have three rehearsals to prepare. Couples from the province as well as couples from abroad are under greater time pressure and they have to be satisfied with just one preliminary rehearsal.

Good dancers are gentlemen who can manage to make their female partners feel good during each dance

Later on, all the couples will be placed in the same team before the big public rehearsal. On the first day of the Ball, we will rehearse the choreography with all the couples once again and then “Showtime” begins.

How do you choose the perfect match, between boys and girls, and what is expected of them?

The prerequisite for participation is their age: between 17 and 24 years, and dancing the Waltz, especially to the left (the crossing). Then we have the jury, made up of several persons. They will be observing them, obviously.

What is the secret behind their interest to be selected?

In Opernball, the demand for opening is always huge and that is why it is important for couples to be part of the Ball. Although generally, the number of young couples has declined, with the dance school, there is a great desire to attend classes parallel to dance and to open one or more balls.

How to recognize a good dancer?

In terms of social dance, in my opinion, good dancers are gentlemen who can manage to make their female partners feel good during each dance. They are not particularly striking because of extravagant behavior and can lead their ladies through the worst blizzard ballroom.
I would say that it is much easier for the ladies because they do not have to lead during the dance.
It is important that they forgive their partners’ faux-pas and allow them to be “men” during the dance.

What is needed in order to learn the waltz quickly?

From experience, we can say that it depends on different groups of people and, therefore, it is different for everyone and it requires time. First of all, exercise – as in a coordination exercise – is important, which means that you need to repeat movements over and over again and practice.

Would you mind telling us the secret of a perfect choreography?

I never do choreography just for the couples, but also for the audience standing next to couples on the dance floor and guests on the stage.
Black and white effect that couples create on the court is basically important, and the image of dancing couples should be visible. Figures should not be too complicated and they should probably be easy to learn. Our motto is to facilitate and not to overload.

Why did you choose the career of a dance master (Tanz maestro)?

My history as a teacher/master of dance (Tanz) and education started in a dance school Elmayer. This was almost my revelation of the legitimacy of successful attendance of dance courses which I always imagined with a lot of satisfaction. Though I initially wanted to go into another profession, teaching dance and taking care of the many opening balls became increasingly more important to me.

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