Ballroom Dancing and DanceSport – Art vs Sport

Avatar photo


What is Ballroom Dancing

Ballroom Dancing is a partnered activity with a male and female counterpart. It is a set of dances performed both socially and competitively worldwide. In addition, because of its performance and entertainment aspects, Ballroom dance is also widely enjoyed on stage, film, and television. There are three divisions of Ballroom Dance: Social Ballroom Dancing, Competitive Ballroom Dancing, and Exhibition Ballroom Dancing.

What is Social Ballroom Dancing?

Social Ballroom Dancing is a major category or classification of dance forms or dance styles, where sociability and socializing are the primary focuses of the dancing. Therefore, you don’t require to learn the proper syllabus, technique, or choreography. Also, there is no central organization governing the field of Social Ballroom Dancing, and you don’t require to be a member of any organization to participate in any event related to social dancing.

What is Exhibition Ballroom Dancing?

The term Exhibition Ballroom Dancing can be defined as a choreographed and staged dance performance in front of the audience, theaters, cabarets, T.V. shows. Due to the popularity of Ballroom Dancing, its musicality, and visual attraction, it has become a prominent part of the entertainment industry.

What is Competitive Ballroom Dancing?

The official term for Competitive Ballroom Dancing is DanceSport.
Over the years, competitive Ballroom Dancing has evolved so much in its choreography, requiring a higher level of athleticism. Many individuals that spectate or dance socially often underestimate the physical attributes and demands of Ballroom Dancing. To compete at a world level, elite competitive dancers undergo rigorous training to help and enhance their competition performance. These dancers seem to perform at such a high energy expenditure that a deeper understanding of these energy demands may help build specific training programs used to sustain a high-quality dance performance consistent over a few rounds of competition.

So What is DanceSport?

DanceSport is the official term for competitive Ballroom Dancing, in contrast to Social Dancing or Exhibition Dancing. DanceSport’s characteristics consist of physical strength, agility, coordination, stamina, high level of fitness, discipline, teamwork, grace, style, and musical interpretation.  The International Olympic Committee now recognizes DanceSport as a sport for eventual inclusion in the Olympic program. DanceSport provides an opportunity for developing the athletic discipline of body and mind and artistic creativity through musical interpretation, costume design, and choreographic programming. Today The DanceSport became a part of the World Games. 

Who governs the DanceSport industry?

Like Figure Skating, DanceSport organizations and events are governed and regulated by the National and International Governing bodies, such as USA Dance and the World DanceSport Federation. In addition, two more prominent international Ballroom Dance organizations that govern competitive ballroom dancing are not part of the Olympic movement and operate on a strictly commercial basis. Until recently, there was one world federation called IDSF, and today, they split into three – WDSF (Olympic), WDC, and WDO. DanceSport competitions use a similar scoring system as Figure Skating. The first unofficial world championship took place in 1909, and the first formation team was presented in 1932 by Olive Ripman at the Astoria Ballroom, London. DanceSport was first time broadcasted on T.V. in 1960. The term DanceSport applies to the International Style and the American style of the competitive ballroom. It includes the following categories, and they apply to both individual couples and formation dance:

  • International Standard (Cha-Cha-Cha, Samba, Rumba, Paso Doble, Jive)
  • International Latin (Waltz, Tango, Viennese Waltz, Foxtrot, Quickstep)
  • American Rhythm (Cha Cha Cha, Samba, East Coast Swing, Bolero, Mambo)
  • American Smooth (Waltz, Tango, Viennese Waltz, Foxtrot)


DanceSport Judging Systems

One of the big problems with judging DanceSport competitions is that it relies on a judge’s opinion. As a result, it will always be open to accusations of favoritism, no matter how respected the judge is. There are constant adjustments to get closer to the ice skating judging approach with a heavy inclination towards technical skills.


Contact Us
4A Eves Drive, Marlton NJ 08053
+1 800-817-3550
M-F: 10AM - 8PM; Sat: 10AM-4PM