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International and American Ballroom: An Overview

International and American Ballroom: An Overview

Ariel Hsieh

Aug 16 2021

The world of ballroom dance contains many different dance styles. For the sake of this article and ballroom dance competitions, we consider:

Waltz Rumba

Tango Cha Cha

Foxtrot. AND Samba

Viennese Waltz Paso Doble

Quickstep Jive

East Coat Swing



to be Ballroom dances. While there seems to be only 13 dances listed here, there are actually… 19!

Ballroom dances can be split into two categories: International (danced internationally) and American (because America likes being special). These two categories can be further divided into two sub-categories: Standard and Latin for International Ballroom; Smooth and Rhythm for American Ballroom.

Dances in the International Standard and American Smooth category generally originated in Europe or America, with Tango originating from Argentina being the exception. These dances generally have a smooth, gliding across the floor quality to them, with the dancing always traveling counterclockwise around the dance floor. When you think of princesses dancing in royal balls, you are most likely thinking of variations of Standard and Smooth dances.

Four of the International Standard and American Smooth dance styles have the same name: Waltz, Tango, Foxtrot, and Viennese Waltz. However, the figures within the dance can be different. While International Standard maintains a closed position throughout the dance, American Smooth can move out of closed position and include tricks such as underarm turns, dips, solo choreography, and spins, providing more freedom of movement and creativity than International Standard.