Dance Styles We Teach

‘Ballroom dancing’ is an umbrella term for many different styles of partner dancing. At Ballroom Dance Academy, we offer classes in American Smooth, American Rhythm, International Standard, and International Latin as well as the Club dances.


American Style Ballroom (Smooth) Dances

American Style Ballroom is also known as “Smooth.” These dances move around the floor in a counterclockwise fashion, featuring many underarm turns and open positions. Each dance has its own distinct style, and is ideal for the social dance floor.

  • Waltz: A slow, dreamy dance known as the mother of all ballroom
  • Foxtrot: The jazzy dance of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers
  • Tango: A fiery, dramatic dance made famous in the US by 1920’s Hollywood star Rudolph Valentino
  • Viennese Waltz: A whirling, thrilling dance dating back to the late 18th Century

American Style Latin (Rhythm) Dances

American Style Latin is also called ‘Rhythm’. This category includes many of the sensual, romantic, flirty Latin styles as well as the quintessentially American East Coast Swing.

  • Rumba: An expressive, sexy dance universally recognized as the “dance of love”
  • Cha Cha: A fun, flirty dance that grew out of the Cuban Mambo, popular in the ’50’s in the U.S.
  • Mambo: A fast and spicy Latin dance from Cuba, similar to Salsa, but breaking on count 2.
  • Bolero: A slow, romantic dance with its roots in Cuba and the Caribbean
  • East Coast Swing: A playful, high-energy dance derived from 1920’s and 1930’s Lindy Hop

International Style Ballroom (Standard) Dances

The International Standard is primarily, though not exclusively, a competitive style of ballroom dancing, recognized across the globe. Unlike American Smooth, International Standard stays in closed position, with couples maintaining body contact at all times.

  • Waltz, Foxtrot, Viennese Waltz, Tango: These four dances are much like their American counterparts, but with more emphasis technique and less on social aspect of dancing.
  • Quickstep: A fast, elegant dance unique to International Style, with its roots in Foxtrot and Charleston.

International Style Latin Dances

The International Style Latin dances feature a sexy attitude, loads of hip action, long expressive legs and arms, and extended lines. Like International Standard, International Latin is mainly for competitions, showcases, and serious dancers.

  • Rumba, Cha Cha, and Samba: These dances are similar to the American Rhythm versions, yet feature entirely different steps.
  • Jive: A fast, highly athletic version of swing, similar to a triple-step East Coast Swing.
  • Paso Doble: A stirring, dramatic dance inspired by Spanish bullfight.

Club Dances

The so-called “club” dances are most often found in nightclubs and dance halls. Each club dance possesses a large community of enthusiasts who dance only that style. Every community has its own legendary dancers, musicians, and constantly evolving cultures.

  • Hustle: A highly dynamic, flashy partner version of disco dancing, originating in the 1970’s.
  • Night Club Two Step: A romantic, elegant dance ideal for slow pop ballads.
  • West Coast Swing: A relaxed, contemporary style of swing danced to Blues, R&B, Country and a variety of popular music.
  • Lindy Hop: A fun, energetic version of the original swing, danced to Big Band, Rockabilly, and Jazz music.
  • Argentine Tango: A passionate, seductive style of Tango with its origins in late 19th century Buenos Aires brothels, danced in an improvisational manner.
  • Salsa: One of the hottest social dances in the world, primarily danced to Latin Music, and characterized by fast turns, rhythmical breaks, and fancy footwork.
  • Merengue: A fun, easy-to-learn party dance, popular in Latin Night Clubs, with a distinctive marching rhythm and side-to-side hip action.
  • Bachata: A sexy, intimate dance from the Dominican Republic, danced with legs intertwined, closed hip action, and syncopated footwork to match the unique rhythm of each song.
  • Kizomba: A slow, sinuous, dance originating in late 1970’s Angola, danced in an extremely close hold and emphasizing new dimensions in leading and following.
  • Zouk: A sensual, energetic dance with its roots in Brazilian Lambada and Samba, popular at Latin clubs and characterized by elongated steps, wave-like motion, and the followers’ dramatic head rolls.
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