What is DanceSport?

DanceSport is the new term for competitive Ballroom Dancing. It can be viewed as a combination of technical ability and elegance which results in a performance. Many people associate Ballroom Dance with only Ballroom (Standard) style dances (i.e. Waltz, Tango, Foxtrot, Viennese Waltz, & Quickstep), thus the more encompassing and appealing name, DanceSport, was adopted.

USA Dance is the National Governing Body (NGB) for DanceSport in the USA as recognized by the US Olympic Committee and the World DanceSport Federation (WDSF). USA Dance promulgates the Rules under which amateur DanceSport competitions in the USA are held.

DanceSport Athletes are segregated by skill levels (proficiency), age and dance style so that they compete on a “level playing field”. As skills and proficiency improve they advance and move up to the next level and compete against more experienced dancers.

(fixed dance figures)


Open Levels
(no fixed figures – increasing difficulty)

Championship (highest level)

In addition some competitions have events for beginners or newcomers who have never competed before. Whether these categories are offered is dependent on the event organizer.


Each dance has a list of recognized steps associated with it. This list of steps is known as the “Syllabus” (and yes, International Waltz and American Waltz have two, separate, distinct syllabi). The syllabus for each dance is broken into three parts – the bronze steps, silver steps, and gold steps.

Generally, the steps of a given level are grouped together because of the level of difficulty. For example, the bronze level steps are fairly basic and provide a good foundation and understanding of the nature of each individual dance. The silver level comprises all of the bronze steps plus a few more, slightly more advanced steps. The gold level incorporates all of the bronze and all of the silver steps, with the addition of more advanced steps. At all levels, attention to technique will always aid in the execution.

Dance Styles and Competitive Events

Competitive events take place in the following dance categories, most of which are “group” events, i.e. multiple couples dance and are judged simultaneously.

International Styles

Latin Dances
Cha-Cha, Rumba, Samba, Jive, and Paso-Doble

Standard Dances
Waltz, Tango, Foxtrot, Viennese Waltz, Quickstep

American Styles

Rhythm Dances
Cha-Cha, Rumba, Mambo, East Coast Swing, and Bolero

Smooth Dances
Waltz, Tango, Foxtrot, Viennese Waltz

Other Dance Styles

Swing Dances
Lindy Hop, East Coast Swing, West Coast Swing, Jive, Charleston

Club Dances
Argentine Tango, Bachata, Salsa, Hustle, Night Club Two Step

How are the events judged?

During the event, between 5 and 11 judges will rank the dance couples based on their skills, presentation, and showmanship. Scores from all the judges are combined to obtain the final standings. Adjudication is both an objective and subjective process and that is why several judges are used to ensure fairness.

Depending on the number of entries, competitors may be required to compete in a series of elimination rounds (early rounds, quarter and semi-final) until six couples are recalled for the final round by the judges. During the final round, the placements, 1st through 6th, are determined.