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Ballroom dancing was originally designed for partner dancing in ballrooms. Progressive or travelling ballroom dances are characterized by long strides that result in the partners quickly traversing the dance floor. Correct posture and frame are very important in ballroom dancing.

The combination of large steps, separation of the partners' upper body, and a frame that requires the shoulders and upper arms to stay in one line, result in the need for a large dance floor.

Ballroom Dancing Styles

There are two principle ballroom styles: International and American.

The International style grew out of English or Modern style ballroom dancing and is the style used in international ballroom competition dancing.

The American style was an attempt to make ballroom dancing less formal and more social. However, modern social dancing standards have evolved and by today's standards, American style ballroom dancing is still quite formal. The social dancing styles described elsewhere on this site are less formal than American style ballroom.

American style dancing also requires a fairly large dance floor. However, American style ballroom dancing does provide the dancer with patterns which are useful for dancing on small dance floors. For instance, Waltz box steps, hesitation steps and underarm turns provide dancers with the opportunity to dance the Waltz as a spot dance.

Ballroom Dance Grouping

International Ballroom

The International ballroom dances are divided into two groups:

  1. Standard
    1. Slow Waltz
    2. Tango
    3. Viennese Waltz
    4. Slow Foxtrot
    5. Quickstep
  2. Latin
    1. Cha Cha
    2. Samba
    3. Rumba
    4. Paso Doblé
    5. Jive

American Ballroom

The American ballroom dances are divided into two groups:

  1. Smooth
    1. Waltz
    2. Tango
    3. Foxtrot
    4. Viennese Waltz
  2. Rhythm
    1. Cha Cha
    2. Rumba
    3. East Coast Swing
    4. Bolero
    5. Mambo

Differences Between International and American Ballroom Styles

International Standard is danced in a closed dance position, whereas American Smooth allows the partnership to "open up" in several steps.

In American Smooth, partners can release their arm hold, allowing spins, dips, and other embellishments that are not permitted in International Standard.

International Latin hip action is achieved after stepping onto a "straight leg," whereas in American Rhythm hip action is achieved via Cuban motion i.e. by flexing the knee after taking a step.

Professional International ballroom competitions use International style dancing (including the US), while ballroom performances in North America use American ballroom style dancing. The popular television series, Dancing with the Stars and So You Think You Can Dance, use American styles for their ballroom dancing.

Dance Descriptions

» Social Dancing
» Ballroom Dancing
» Ceroc
» Blues
» Glossary

Argentine Tango Descriptions

» Argentine Tango
» Nuevo Tango and Neo-Tango

Latin Dance Descriptions

» Bachata
» Bossa Nova
» Cumbia
» Forro
» Merengue
» Salsa
» Samba
» Samba Gafieira
» Zouk


» American Ballroom Smooth
» American Ballroom Rhythm
» International Ballroom Standard
» International Ballroom Latin
» Ceroc
» Blues

Argentine Tango Videos

» Argentine Tango Videos
» Nuevo Tango Dance Videos
» Tango Lesson (the movie) Clips
» Tango (the movie) Clips

Latin Dance Videos

» Bachata
» Cumbia
» Forro
» Merengue
» Salsa
» Samba Gafieira