What Is Ballroom?

Styles and Dances

There are nineteen competitive ballroom dances and numerous social dances. The competitive dances are divided between the International style and the American style, which are further divided into International Latin, International Standard, American Smooth and American Rhythm. The nineteen dances are:

International Standard

International Waltz
International Tango
International Viennese Waltz
International Foxtrot
International Quickstep

American Smooth

American Waltz
American Tango
American Foxtrot
American Viennese Waltz
International Latin

International Cha Cha
International Samba
International Rumba
International Paso Doble
International Jive

American Smooth

American Cha Cha
American Rumba
American Swing
American Bolero
American Mambo

The international style is known to be faster and more competitive. The International style, as its name implies, is the ballroom standard that is recognized worldwide. The American style is danced almost exclusively in the United States and is considered to be a more social standard of dancing. There are several different officially recognized syllabi that are used in American style as opposed to one syllabus used worldwide in International style.

Note that Columbia does not offer classes in the American style.

Levels in Competitive Ballroom Dancing

Couples compete against other couples with the same level of experience in all the dances. There are several main categories at collegiate and USA Dance competitions:
  • Newcomer / Pre-Bronze
  • Beginner / Bronze
  • Intermediate / Silver
  • Advanced / Gold
  • Novice
  • Pre-Champ
  • Champ

Generally only people who have competed for less than 6 months are considered Newcomers. Pre-Bronze to Gold are "Syllabus" levels and must follow syllabus steps. Novice, Pre-Champ and Champ are "Open" levels and open choreographies can be danced.

Most competitions use the YCN rules to determine the level in which a competitor should dance. Adult competitions tend to use criteria set by USA Dance. As noted, each competition may have separate rules regarding which level you may compete at. Generally, if you have won first place in Bronze for the last two competitions, it is time to move on.

More on Competitions

All previous references have targetted collegiate competitions. However, there is a world outside the collegiate scene, the professional side. In "Pro-Am" competitions, an amateur student dances with his/her teacher, and in Professional competitions, pro's take it to the World Championships in Blackpool.

Social Dancing

The Columbia Ballroom Dance Team offers classes in:
  • Salsa
  • Hustle
  • Argentine Tango
However there are numerous other social dances including Merengue, East Coast and West Coast Swing, Polka... We sometimes arrange for salsa trips into the city. Social dancing is usually available at competitions in the form of a team match or general dancing between heats or events. Some competitions hold socials.