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Ballroom Dance Styles

There are four major categories in ballroom dance competitions—American Smooth, American Rhythm, International Latin, and International Standard—in addition to show dance, cabaret, theater arts. Here’s a breakdown of each:

1. American Smooth:

  • Dances:
    • Waltz
    • Tango
    • Foxtrot
    • Viennese Waltz
  • Characteristics:
    • Partners are allowed to separate, allowing for more open and expressive movements.
    • Emphasis on elegance, fluidity, and storytelling through dance.
    • Dancers can incorporate lifts and other theatrical elements, similar to theatrical or exhibition-style ballroom.

2. American Rhythm:

  • Dances:
    • Cha-Cha
    • Rumba
    • East Coast Swing
    • Bolero
    • Mambo
  • Characteristics:
    • Typically danced in a closer hold than American Smooth.
    • Emphasis on more syncopated and rhythmic movements.
    • Incorporates elements of Latin and Rhythm dances.

3. International Latin:

  • Dances:
    • Cha-Cha
    • Samba
    • Rumba
    • Paso Doble
    • Jive
  • Characteristics:
    • High-energy and often characterized by faster tempos.
    • Emphasis on hip action, precise footwork, and expressive arm movements.
    • Dancers maintain a more open hold compared to International Standard.

4. International Standard:

  • Dances:
    • Waltz
    • Tango
    • Viennese Waltz
    • Foxtrot
    • Quickstep
  • Characteristics:
    • Danced in a closed hold, with partners maintaining physical contact throughout the dance.
    • Emphasis on smooth, flowing movements, and maintaining a continuous connection.
    • Precision in footwork and body positioning is crucial.

These categories are recognized by many dance organizations and are often used in competitive ballroom dancing around the world, however the American smooth and rhythm are primarily used in the United States. Each category has its unique set of dances, and dancers often specialize in one or more of these categories based on their preferences and strengths. These distinctions provide a framework for competition, allowing dancers to showcase their skills in specific styles and creating a rich and diverse landscape within the world of ballroom dance.

Social Dances

Here are a few more ballroom dance styles to add to the above list:

  1. Peabody:
    • An American ballroom dance that evolved from the fast foxtrot, known for its quick and lively movements. It was popular in the early 20th century.
  2. Polka:
    • A lively Central European dance characterized by quick steps and a distinctive hop. It is often associated with traditional folk music.
  3. Schottische:
    • A partnered country dance with origins in European folk dancing. It has a hopping step and is often danced to lively music.
  4. Country Two-Step:
    • A popular country dance that involves quick turns and spins. It is often danced to country music.
  5. Bachata:
    • A sensual and romantic dance that originated in the Dominican Republic. Bachata features hip movements and a close connection between partners.
  6. Cumbia:
    • A Colombian dance that has spread throughout Latin America. It has a distinctive rhythm and is often danced in a circular pattern.
  7. Kizomba:
    • A dance that originated in Angola with influences from other African and Caribbean dances. Kizomba is known for its smooth, flowing movements.
  8. Hustle:
    • A disco dance that gained popularity in the 1970s. It involves energetic movements and is often danced to disco music.
  9. Charleston:
    • A lively and energetic dance that became popular in the 1920s. It involves quick footwork and swinging movements.
  10. Lindy Charleston:
    • An energetic version of the Charleston that is often danced in conjunction with Lindy Hop.
  11. Nightclub Two-Step:
    • A dance that evolved from the foxtrot, characterized by a slow, romantic style. It is often danced to contemporary music.
  12. East Coast Swing:
    • A lively and energetic swing dance that developed in the United States. It is characterized by its triple step and rock-step basic.
  13. Merengue:
    • A fun and lively dance with simple footwork, often danced in a close hold.
  14. Salsa:
    • is a lively and social dance style that originated in the Caribbean, with strong influences from Cuban, Puerto Rican, and African music and dance traditions.
  15. West Coast Swing:
    • West Coast Swing (WCS) is a smooth and sophisticated partner dance that has evolved from its roots in Lindy Hop and East Coast Swing.