Types of Dance

Types of Ballroom Dance

Ballroom dance can be enjoyed in a social setting or in a competitive environment and it is often referred to as “partnership dancing” since it requires a partner. This type of dance has been influenced by traditional folk dance since it originated in the 16th century, in which it was typically done in royal courts; for example, Austrian Folk Dance in the 18th century influenced the Waltz.

Two Styles of Ballroom Dance
In dance studios, as well as dance competitions throughout America, there are two specific types of American Style ballroom dancing : Rhythm and Smooth. Both of these styles of dance began to emerge in between 1910 and 1930 when jazz music was at its peak. Over the years, the American Style of ballroom dancing has evolved and expanded based off of music from around the globe to include Mambo, Salsa and West Coast Swing. This American Style of ballroom dancing encouraged a more social environment and was popular amongst renowned choreographers such as Mr. Fred Astaire. On the other hand, the International Style of ballroom dance was introduced in England in the early 1800s and became popular throughout the rest of the world by the 19th century, through the music of Josef and Johann Strauss. This style of dance includes Standard (or “Ballroom”), and Latin, which is typically used more in the competitive dance circuit.

The Differences Between International & American Styles
International and American ballroom dancing styles have many differences. To start, the International Style is what most people will think of when they hear the words “ballroom dancing”. In this style of dance, dance partners stay in a closed dance position whereas the American Style gives the dancers a bit more freedom and allows them to move into the open position as well. The closed position used in the International Style simply means that the dance partners stand in front of each other and are in body contact throughout the dance. Additionally, the American Style also features “Exhibition” or solo work, which provides dancers with a bit more freedom when choreographing. While the International Style is taught with more discipline especially during the earlier stages, the American Style will usually start off as a hobby and then progress into a sport. However, both styles can be very technical with a high level of proficiency requirements. Lastly, the typical dress code for each respective dance style is different. Dancers choreographing to the International Style will typically wear dresses that have floats coming from the tops. This dress style would not be conducive for American Style, which features both open & closed positions.

Getting YOUR Dance On

At Fred Astaire Dance Studios, we offer our students a wide range of styles to meet their interests. We provide classes in both the International and American Ballroom Styles, and then some! Whether it be choreographing a breathtaking First Dance for your wedding or simply getting in shape, as our student, you get to choose what style you learn. No matter your age, dance skills or whether you’re planning to take lessons solo or with a dance partner – Fred Astaire Dance Studio has you covered.


Want to learn more about each type of dance and view a demonstration video? Just click on the links to your right. Make sure to also give us a call at Fred Astaire Dance Studios and take advantage of our special offer for first-time students. Together, we can embark on your dance journey today!

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