The Ballroom and Latin Dances


In competitive ballroom dancing, there are two styles of dance - International and American. Each style has its own set of "Ballroom" and "Latin-American" dances.

International Style

Standard Dances (Ballroom dances)
  • Waltz
  • Tango
  • Foxtrot
  • Viennese Waltz
  • Quickstep
Latin (Latin-American inspired dances)
  • Cha Cha
  • Rumba
  • Samba
  • Paso Doble
  • Jive

American Style

Smooth (Ballroom dances)
  • Waltz
  • Tango
  • Foxtrot
  • Viennese Waltz
Rhythm (Latin-American inspired dances)
  • Cha Cha
  • Rumba
  • Mambo
  • Bolero
  • Swing

The Skill Levels


Often when newcomers join, there is a concern about whether or not they will be at a disadvantage because they have just begun dancing. In competition, dancers must adhere to a set of figures specified by the syllabus level that they are competing in. Each subsequent syllabus level allows dancers to implement more complicated figures and techniques into their routines.

Experienced dancers may also compete in open choreography levels, which are no longer limited by a syllabus.

Syllabus Levels
  • Newcomer (for those dancing a year or less)
  • Bronze
  • Silver
  • Gold
Open Choreography Levels
  • Novice (3 dances)
  • Pre-Championship (4 dances)
  • Championship (4 or 5 dances)

For complete International and American syllabi, see Members.

What to wear at competition



Men’s Attire
  • Standard/Smooth - white dress shirt, black vest (optional), black dress pants/dance pants, black socks, and tie.
  • Latin/Rhythm - black dress shirt, black dress pants/dance pants, and black socks.
  • Ladies’ Attire
  • Standard/Smooth - calf-length dresses.
  • Latin/Rhythm - above-the-knee dress or shirt/skirt combination.
  • No sequins, sparkles, crystals, or floaters (decorative pieces of material that attach from the dress to the wrist or hand) are allowed in the syllabus levels. This is to promote affordable collegiate ballroom dancing and prevent beginning dancers from purchasing expensive dresses, which often give an unfair aesthetic advantage.



    2013 IU Ballroom Dance