International vs American Style Ballroom Dance Classes

So you want to learn how to ballroom dance or have started ballroom dance classes and you hear the words International, American, Smooth, Standard, Latin, and Rhythm! Yikes! What does it all mean?….. It sounds complicated to learn ballroom dancing! The good news is that the different styles in ballroom dance classes are not as complicated they sound! Quite simply, the history of ballroom dance development occurred independantly in two different parts of the world, resulting in two major styles. In Britain, ballroom dancing was developed into a style known as International, while the American Style evolved in USA.

You can learn ballroom dancing in both styles in North America, while the rest of the world dances predominantly the International style.

Both are further subdivided into two categories dependant upon the basic character of the different dances. Latin dance styles with a Latin American character, such as the Cha Cha and the Jive, are categorized as Latin American (International style),and Rhythm (American Style). The more traditional dances, such as the Waltz and the Foxtrot, are categorized as Standard (International style), and Smooth (American style). More about it you can learn at ballroom dance lessons toronto ontario .


So What is the Difference?

Both the American and the International dance styles, follow their own syllabus of dances , dance steps(figures) and methods of technique. Although some of the dances included in the syllabi have the same names, they are danced differently, with distinctive figures and/or variences in tempo (speed). For example, a requirement of all International Standard dances is for a couple to always remain in contact with each other, moving through a common center. The American Smooth dances are not required to keep contact, and may release the dance hold to include spins and other separate movements. The two videos below demonstrate this example.

Some Ballroom Dances are not included in both syllabi. An example of this is the Quickstep, and the Paso Doble, which are found only in the International Style syllabus. Similarily, the Mambo and the Bolero are seen only in American Style ballroom dancing. The differences in the Latin American (International), and the Rhythm (American) dances are more difficult to detect. The most obvious, is the way the dancer changes weight from one foot to another. International style will use a more straight leg action as opposed the the American style bent leg action.


How To Choose a Dance Style?

If you want to learn how to ballroom dance at a dance studio, your choice of dance style will be greatly influenced by the availability of ballroom dance classes in your community. Larger centers in North America may offer both the major dance styles, whereas, smaller communities may have only one choice, or perhaps none at all! Given the opportunity, visit the dance studios in your area for a first hand look at the different dance styles. You may even get a complementary lesson to help you decide! Choose the style that appeals to you most! There are no bad choices!

If you want to learn how to ballroom dance online, it is still a good idea to consider which styles of dance are available in your community before choosing an online dance style. You may wish to dance socially at one of the studios sometime in the future, and will probably feel more comfortable dancing the same style.


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