Ballroom Dance Styles: The Most Popular Styles

There is a lot of ballroom dance styles. As much as professional ballroom dancers would say that there are only ten recognized types, one cannot deny that other styles exist.

In the cruel world of today, why discriminate when it comes to dancing? Surely, those who are not that familiar with these dances will agree with us when we say that a style of dance is considered as such as long as it is done with a partner.

On the other hand, some people might not agree because when it comes to ballroom dancing, it should adhere to the standards that were set. Whether you belong in the “dance is dance” group or “dance has a set of standards” group, we are going to look at the most popular ballroom dancing styles. At the same time, we are going to discuss how they differ from one another.

Ballroom Dance Styles

Before we talk about each ballroom dance style, let us first discuss the two acceptable styles. The first one is the International Standard Style, and the other one is the Latin Dance Style. More than that, the International Standard Style is divided into two groups when we are talking about the American International Standard Style.

For the International Standard Style, the dances that are included are the waltz, tango, foxtrot, Viennese waltz, and quickstep. As for the Latin Dance style, it has the cha-cha, samba, rumba, paso doble, and jive.

The American style has an American rhythm section which includes cha-cha, rumba, swing, bolero, and mambo. Further, there is also American smooth that has, waltz, foxtrot, tango, and Viennese waltz.

1. International Standard Style

Let us first talk about the different style with the International Standard Style.

  • Waltz

This is amongst the most graceful dances and one of the easiest to learn. It has a strong rise and fall technique which can really showcase the movement of the partners.

Likewise, it is characterized by flowing and long movements which include a lot of turns. If done correctly, it is as if the dancers are gliding on the dance floor with absolutely no effort.

  • Foxtrot

The foxtrot is much like the waltz in such a case that it includes smooth movements. This time, the partners should glide on the dance floor as in they are on ice skates.

It is also usually the choice for beginners. It can be danced in a big band or swing music.

  • Tango

This is a very sensual dance that has its origins in Argentina. It combines a lot of dramatic and quick movements paired with different shapes. The dancers tend to walk in a technique that is called staccato.

  • Viennese Waltz

The Viennese Waltz differs from the waltz in terms of speed and number of steps. It is usually four times faster, and there are more steps, but they are still elongated. Also, it has a lot of foot actions and differs from the one, two, and three timings.

Mostly, it is about showing off each partner as they are being twirled around in the room. It is not advised to be learned by a beginner.

  • Quickstep

Coming from the root word quick, this is the fastest dance style. For this to be done right, both of you should move with lots of energy, skips, flicks, and hops. Some say that it is the quicker version of the foxtrot.

It is all about syncopated feet rhythms, runs, and extremely quick stepping. All of these combined make it a very entertaining dance to watch.

2. International Latin Style

Let us now move on to the five styles under the International Latin Style.

  • Cha-Cha

This is also a fairly easy dance to learn, but you have to learn a lot of footwork. Definitely, it is a cheeky dance which puts a lot of emphasis on quick and concise leg and foot actions. It also has that classic Cuban motion wherein the partners should synchronize with each other well so that there will be a perfect alignment.

  • Rumba

This is most commonly referred to as the most sensual and passionate dance. It has a lot of hip and body action as well as a consistent 4/4 beat. When done correctly, the room will be filled with so much tension as the dance is supposed to be very intense. There is also a bit of leeway for independent freestyle.

  • Samba

For this one, it can be performed solo or with a partner. It mostly mimics the Brazilian carnival feeling.

There is a lot of bounce that is derived from the ankles and the knees. Also, it is very easy to freestyle this dance.

  • Paso Doble

This style is also very intense because it mimics a Spanish bullfight. Therefore, the movements are quick and big, and it is as if the man and the woman are constantly challenging each other. It also has a lot of decorated movements such as kicking and clapping.

  • Jive

This one is also a quick dance which incorporates a lot of kicks. It can also be like swing and is a variation of the jitterbug. Similarly, there are also a lot of bounces with this one and huge amounts of energy.

3. Other Styles

Let us discuss some other styles that are not under the standard styles.

  • Salsa

This also originated from Latin dances, and it includes a lot of hip movements, turns, and strides. Nowadays, a lot of people dance it in fast music, but it can also be danced slowly.

  • Mambo

This is a very energetic dance with a lot of bulky movements. Some of it might resemble modern day hip-hop styles. Other choreographies also include a bit of kick and stride.

  • Lindy Hop

This was inspired by swing but has more boxy steps. The counts are also different since, with this one, it always ends on a half count. There are triple steps, rock steps, and walks.

Final Thoughts

Those are some of the most popular ballroom dance styles. They only differ in counts, shapes, and strides. However, just like any ballroom style, you have to master the basic steps for you to really see how each style is so different from the other.

Take your pick and dance!

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4 thoughts on “Ballroom Dance Styles: The Most Popular Styles”

  1. I have read other article about Ballroom Dancing in your website before. Thank you so much for keep posting articles that is really useful for all the Ballroom Dancers out there. These ten types of styles really made my cousin think. Now she is in the process of deciding what she wants to choose.

    • Hey Sujandar! Thank you for stopping by again!…

  2. Tango, Salsa, and Latin styles have to be my most favorite styles to watch on TV, Dancing With The Stars, or live events in my downtown. How can they take so much on their feet is what I have always wondered with some of the styles. Really difficult foot work. 

    My dream was to be in ballet but my mom saw fit to not see myself embarrass myself so much respect to the art. I wish could have partaken!

    • Hey Kira! Thanks for your comment… Never late to start 😀

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