Dance Savoir Faire Andrew Cuerdan

Beginners Guide to Ballroom

This page is designed to offer a basic overview of Ballroom Dancing to help you successfully navigate through it as well as understand the Dance Savoir Faire website.


Ballroom Dancing is generic term for a group of partner dances, which are enjoyed both socially and competitively around the world. Because of its performance and entertainment aspects, ballroom dancing is also widely enjoyed on stage, film, and television. Hence it is continuously debated whether it is an art or a sport.

Ballroom Dancing may refer, in a broad sense, to almost any type of partner dancing.  However, with the development of Dancesport in recent years, the term has become more specific, and traditionally refers to the 5 International Standard and 5 International Latin style dances (see dances listed below). The two styles have many common techniques and principles but competitive Ballroom dance partners never separate during a dance but remain in closed hold throughout. The Latin American dancing however is a combination of connected partnering and solo moves within the partnership. The styling and costumes also differ drastically between the Ballroom which traditionaly are much longer flowing dresses where the Latin dresses are shorter and more sensual in their design.

In the United States, two additional variations are popular: American Smooth and American Rhythm, which combine elements of both traditional Latin and Ballroom dances.

The 4 styles are now regulated by the World Dance Council (WDC) and the World Dancesport Federation. (WDSF). Here in Britain we operate under the British Dance Council when it comes to organising or competing in dance competitions.

There are also a number of historical partner dances, and local or national dances, which may be danced in ballrooms or clubs such Argentine Tango, Salsa, etc

International Ballroom – Waltz, Tango, Slow Foxtrot, Viennesse Waltz & Quickstep. International Latin American – Cha Cha, Samba, Rumba, Paso Doble & Jive

International Ballroom dances are also referred to as Standard dances in some European countries to differentiate from the Latin dances.

As a dancer there are many ways to develop your talent and, if you want to, gain qualifications and public recognition.  There is a vast array of associations, techniques and rules so we’ve developed this brief guide to help you understand your options.

You can enter at any level but professional advice and guidance is highly recommended to help you choose the best start point for you.

Social Dancing – Non competitive, for fun only.

Medalist Dancing –  involves a choice of accreditations: medal examinations and if desired medal competitions.

Open Circuit Competitions – Amateur and Professional, National and International competitions.