Types of Dance

Types of Ballroom Dance

Ballroom is a style of dance that can be enjoyed both socially, and in dance competitions, and that is sometimes referred to as “partnership dancing” because it is a type of dance that requires a partner. Ballroom dancing is thought to have originated in the 16th century from dances held in the royal courts. There’s also evidence that ballroom was influenced by folk dances of the era – for example, the Waltz began as an 18th century Austrian folk dance.

Two Styles of Ballroom Dance
The International Style of ballroom dance was introduced in Europe in the early 1800s and by the 19th century it became popular throughout the rest of the world, mainly due to the music of Josef and Johann Strauss. The International Style includes two very distinct sub-styles: Standard (or “Ballroom”) and Latin, and is typically more common in the competitive dance circuit. In the United States, ballroom dance adapted into the American Style between 1910 and 1930, from the influence of a more social approach to dancing, the iconic dance and choreography talents of Mr. Fred Astaire American, and the growing popularity of jazz music. Over the years, American Style has expanded to include more modern dances such as West Coast Swing, Salsa and Mambo, and has always been driven by the development of music around the world. The American Style of ballroom dance includes two distinct sub-styles: Rhythm and Smooth, and is very common in both social and competitive ballroom dance arenas.

The Differences Between International & American Styles
International Style is the classic “old school” style of Ballroom dance. In International Standard for example, the dance partners remain in a closed dance position continually (meaning they stand in front of each other, in body contact) throughout the dance. American Smooth is similar to overseas counterpart, but does allow dancers to separate (called “open position”) in their dance frame. In the early stages of training, International Style of ballroom is more disciplined than American Style (which typically starts first as a social Hobby, then can progress to Sport). American Style can also include “Exhibition” solo work, which gives the couple more freedom in their choreography. Both styles of ballroom can be very technical and include a high level of proficiency requirements, but there is more freedom in the American Style when it comes to closed figures (where the International Style is more strict with fewer overall figures offered). In the world of ballroom dance competition, there are also subtle differences in the ladies’ dresses or gowns worn for American versus International Styles. Because dance partners stay in closed position when dancing International, the dresses often have floats coming from the tops which would not be as conducive for American Style, which features both open & closed positions.

Getting YOUR Dance On
At Fred Astaire Dance Studios, we provide instruction in both International and American Ballroom Styles, and then some! And as a Fred Astaire dance student, you can choose which dance style you’d like to learn first based on your individual dance goals and what’s most appealing to you. For example, students interested in high-energy lessons for improved physical health would likely choose a different style of dance than couples looking for an elegant First Dance for their wedding. No matter your age, your ability level or whether you’re planning to take lessons with a partner or on your own – you’ve come to the right place.

To learn about each type of ballroom dance and see a demonstration video, click on the links at the right. Then give us a call at Fred Astaire Dance Studios, and ask about our money-saving introductory offer for new students. Together, we’ll get you started on your personal dance journey!

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