Ballroom Dance Overview

Ballroom dance is a broad term that captures several styles of partnership dances. Examples of ballroom dances include everything from waltz and foxtrot, to rumba and bolero, to swing dances, among others. Ballroom dancing can be social, competitive, or performative. Dancesport is the word for competitive ballroom dancing, as a regulated sport. Dancesport is generally divided into International (Standard and Latin) and American (Smooth and Rhythm) styles of dance. There are other ballroom dances outside these main styles, including Salsa, Hustle, West Coast Swing, Merengue, Lindy Hop, Polka, Country 2-Step, Nightclub 2-Step, and Argentine Tango, among others.

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.

American Rhythm

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Bronze syllabus videos for American Rhythm can be found here.

American Cha Cha
American Rumba
East Coast Swing

International Standard

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The Bronze, Silver, and Gold syllabus videos for International Standard can be found here.

International Waltz
International Tango
International Foxtrot
International Viennese Waltz

International Latin

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The Bronze syllabus videos for International Latin can be found here.

International Cha Cha
International Rumba
Paso Doble

American Smooth

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Bronze syllabus videos for American Smooth can be found here.

American Waltz
America Tango
American Foxtrot
American Viennese Waltz