What's the difference between Ballroom Dance, Modern, Standard, International and Dancesport?
Ballroom is the most general and the oldest term that has been used sometimes to
describe Waltz, Tango, Slow Foxtrot, Quickstep and Viennese Waltz and sometimes
it was also used for Latin American dances, namely Cha cha, Samba, Rumba, Paso Doble
and Jive. Sometimes it was also used to refer to Old Time and Sequence dances.
So the term "Modern Ballroom" (in short "Modern") was introduced in Britain
later to indicate clearly that the speaker was not referring to Old Time,
Sequence or Latin-American dances. But in Europe the term "Modern" was already
frequently used to describe a totally different type of dancing (eg. jazz or
other form of solo dancing), so the Europeans called it "Standard" instead.
But "Standard" had an unclear meaning in America, where there is an American
version of it (called American Smooth). Therefore Americans introduced the
term "International Standard" to make the difference clear.
Dancesport describes the competitive side of dancing Standard and Latin-American
styles, where couples dancing is judges by judges and purpose of it is to
achieve the highest possible placing. Dancesport is made of 3 branches:
Standard, Latin-American and 10-dance. 10-dance is a combination of Standard
and Latin, to take part in 10-dance competition you have to dance 5 Standard
and 5 Latin dances.
On the other side of the scale we have Social dancing, where you dance for you
own pleasure and to meet people. Here the divisions between style are not that
important, so we still quite often say that we "Go Ballroom dancing".
Back to top What is meant by European, American and International style?
American Style = American Smooth + American Rhythm
International Style = International Standard + International Latin
American Smooth = Waltz + Tango + Foxtrot + Viennese Waltz
American Rhythm = Cha cha + Rumba + Mambo + Samba + East Coast Swing + West Coast Swing + Bolero + Merengue
International Standard = Waltz + Tango + Foxtrot + Viennese Waltz + Quickstep
International Latin = Cha cha + Samba + Rumba + Paso doble + Jive
American styles are only danced in America.
International styles are in fact European styles. The term "International styles"
are practically only used by Americans where the speaker makes it clear that
he/she is not talking about American styles.
Back to top What is the main organisation for Ballroom dancers?
This question seems easy, but is actually a very complex
one. In England alone there are over 100 registered dance teacher
organisations! In my opinion the most important ones are:
International Dance Teachers Association (IDTA)
and Imperial Society of
Teachers of Dance (ISTD). These organisations have created the official dance
technique books, (sadly these two official versions differ in some places and
it gave many people a headache trying to satisfy them both).
In the department of Amateur dancers organisations
English Amateur Dancers Association (EADA)
is the main one in UK. Looking at the subject from a worldwide perspective
I have to mention
International DanceSport Federation (IDSF) which is
an umbrella organisation uniting all country Amateur Dancers associations.
(EADA is a member of IDSF, as you can guess). IDSF is a top governing body when
it comes to Amateur Dancesport competitions, but when it comes to Professional
World Dance and Dancesport Council (WDDSC)).
is the top governing body. There is also British Dance Council and many more
organisation I have no room to mention here, each promoting dancing in a
Back to top What are the age groups in competitive dancing?
In England, in the Amateur ranks the groups are:
Juveniles (up to 12)
Juniors (up to 16)
Youth (up to 21)
Adult Amateurs (age 16+)
Seniors (age 35+)
Over 45's (age 45+)
But the above groups are not exclusive, for example Adult Amateurs includes
Youth as well as Seniors. That means any couple qualifying for Youth or Senior
can also dance Amateur competitions. Not all competitions are the same either.
For example in one competiton a couple may be allowed to dance both Youth
and Adult Amateur, while in another competition if you dance Youth, you can't
dance Adult Amateur as well.
In the Professional ranks there is no division into age groups. Your age does
not matter and all Professional competitors dance in one category.
Back to top What are the levels in competitive dancing?
In the world of Open competitions in UK any of the above amateur age groups is
divided by experience levels into the following classes:
Pre-Championships Pre-Champ (called also Pre-Amateur Pre-Am)
In Europe however the corresponding classes are called (starting from the
lowest) E, D, C, B, A with S reserved for Internaional Amateurs
Please note: Pre-Am should not be confused with Pro-Am. Pro-Am stands for
Professional-Amateur division, where one of the dancers in the couple
is Professional and one Amateur. In England such competitions do not exist,
but in USA they are very popular.
Back to top What's the relation between medals and open competitive grades?
Medals are usually the beginning of an open competitive careers, but they
do not have to be. There are the following medals you can achieve
The requirements for each medal (steps you need to master in each of 10 dances)
are described in ISTD and IDTA literature (sadly there are some differences
between them). When you complete your Gold medal you are ready to progress
to Open competitions. You may chose whether you want to begin at Novice,
Intermediate or even Pre-champ level.
Back to top Ok, so I want to start dancing. Where can I learn it?
Back to top We will be in England for a few days shortly. Where can we go dancing socially?
A comprehensive list of places and dates is shown on Mr Wonderful website
Check also Philip Wylie section
Philip is a well known organiser of social dance evenings, weekends
and holidays. That's of course not a list of all places, but you should be
able to find something there.
Back to top I heard there is a competition at... How can I register my entry to it?
Sadly there is no one central place listing all forthcoming competitions
neither on the internet nor anywhere else. There are just too many of them.
You will find certain events
advertised here and there, but sometimes it can be hard to find what you are
looking for. However, as a rule contact the event organiser and ask him/her how
to register your entry. In most cases you will be sent a paper entry form to
fill in and send back. Some of the biggest events publish entry forms in the
Dance News weekly newspaper and/or on the internet. At
We have put together links to all events listings we know of.
Back to top What are the dress regulations for juniors and amateur competitors?
The rules about dress codes for amateur competitions are setup by IDSF
which is a worldwide umbrella organisation for all country level
organisations. The rules for Juveniles, Juniors, Adults are outlined
Back to top What other rules do the competitors have to follow?
Back to top What do the dance classes A B C D E stand for?
In Europe these letters are used to mark the level of accomplishness of amateur competitive
dancers. As a beginner competitor you start with class E (the lowest), as you get better you
progress to class D, then class C etc. Class A is the highest, but in some countries there is
even higher, international class S. Up to class C dancers are only allowed to dance steps from the
technique book, from class B upwards they can dance any steps.