A more in-depth description of dancesport, ballroom dance, and styles of dances are discussed in “Ballroom Flow” from Kate Bratt’s blog Riot and Frolic. Below is a flowchart inspired by the one Kate made that applies specifically to dances BDC competes in.
When competing in dancesport, there are multiple different levels at which one can compete, broken down into two categories: syllabus and open. The syllabus category follows a syllabus of steps in which certain patterns are (and are not) allowed, depending on the level. Syllabus levels are bronze, silver, and gold. Sometimes the bronze level is further divided into three of its own levels: bronze I, II, and III (also called newcomer, bronze, and advanced bronze). After syllabus comes the open category, in which the choreography can be “open,” ie. no restrictions on steps or patterns, although generally lifts are not allowed in any style. The open category is broken down into three different levels: novice, pre-champ, and champ.
The rest of this page shows examples of what ballroom dancing can look like when the dancers are really, really good. Like open level good.