Categories and Divisions

There are numerous dances in ballroom. Before you can perfect all the steps, it is important to know which dance you are dancing. Here’s how it all breaks down.
There are two styles of Ballroom Dance: American and International. Both styles have a progression system, (Bronze, Silver, Gold) and an organized syllabus (list of steps). Although each has a recognizable style, they have numerous similarities. The International style is known to be faster and more competitive.

The 4 Categories:

American Rhythm: Swing, Cha-Cha, Rhumba, Bolero, Mambo

Though at most competitions it is only Cha-Cha, Rhumba, Swing

American Smooth: Waltz, Foxtrot, Tango, Viennese Waltz

International Latin:
Jive, Cha-Cha, Rhumba, Samba, Paso Doble

International Standard:
Waltz, Foxtrot, Tango, Quickstep, Viennese Waltz

International Viennese Waltz is also not often offered at levels lower than Gold and Open; however, some competitions will have a ‘syllabus’ Viennese Waltz which is open to competitors of all levels.


The competitions are divided into sections by experience. What division you are in defines what steps you can use in your routines – these steps are dictated by the syllabus for each dance.

Newcomer (Newcomer): those who have been dancing for a semester or less.
Bronze (Beginner): those who have been competing for less than one year.
Silver (Intermediate): those with a whole year of experience.
Gold (Advanced): those with 2 years of experience.
*Open (no syllabus): characterized by open choreography.

*At some competitions open may also be split into Pre-Champ and Champion divisions.