How many types of ballroom dances are there

FAQ – Tufts University Ballroom Dance Team

What is Ballroom Dance? The foremost characteristic Ballroom Dance is that it is always danced with a partner. There are many different styles within the umbrella of “Ballroom Dance” as a whole.

What are the different Ballroom Styles?

There are four styles of competitive Ballroom Dance: American Smooth, American, Rhythm, International Standard, and International Latin. While the American styles share some similarities to the International styles, the former are competed solely in the United States while the latter are competed all over the world.

In Smooth and Standard, dancers travel around the floor while maintaining strong frame and posture. While both styles are danced in formal attire, the primary difference between the two is that Smooth utilizes both closed and open dance positions while Standard is solely danced in a closed position.

World Professional Standard Champions Arunas Bizokas & Katusha Demidova

World Professional Smooth Champions Peter and Alexandra Perzhu





















In Rhythm and Latin, dancers typically travel less while highlighting more accentuated hip action and partner interaction.  The Rhythm and Latin styles are danced in a flashier attire than Smooth and Standard. The primary difference between these styles is that Rhythm highlights the action of stepping onto a bent leg while Latin emphasizes shifting weight onto a straight leg.


World Professional Rhythm Champions Emmanuel Pierre-Antoine & Liana Churilova

World Professional Latin Champions Riccardo Cocchi & Yulia Zagoruychenko





















What are the different Ballroom Dances? There are 19 dances that span the four styles of competitive Ballroom Dancing:

          Smooth: Waltz, Tango, Foxtrot, Viennese Waltz

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

          Rhythm: Cha Cha, Rumba, Swing, Bolero, Mambo

          Latin: Cha Cha, Samba, Rumba, Paso Doble, Jive

Are there other social forms of Ballroom dance?

There are many other social ballroom dances such as Argentine Tango, Salsa, Merengue, Bachata, Hustle, and West Coast Swing.

How many lessons are held each week?

The Tufts Ballroom Team holds two group lessons a week; in the fall these lessons are offered at the Newcomer, Bronze and Silver levels and in the spring at the Bronze, Silver and Silver+ levels. These lessons are taught by team coach Mica Molojkovic, a former Amateur Latin National Champion in Serbia and a competitor and teacher for over 20 years.  The team holds these lessons on Monday and Thursday nights in either the Hill Hall Aerobics Room or the Jackson Dance Lab. The team also offers three weekly open practices for all team members regardless of level. During these practices, upper level dancers are available to review previous lesson material, drill technique, and answer any questions that arise. For information regarding our lesson schedule, visit our Calendar Page.

Are there tryouts?

The Ballroom Team does NOT hold tryouts. ANYONE is welcome to join the team REGARDLESS OF EXPERIENCE. The great majority of our current membership joined with absolutely no ballroom dance experience.

Do I need a partner to join?

Dancers do NOT need a partner to join the team. The Team Captains ensure that all Newcomers are paired up with a partner for the first set of competitions.

Are competitions mandatory?

Competitions are NOT mandatory. While the Team as a whole attends and competes at three competitions each semester, it is up to the individual dancer whether to attend or compete in these competitions or not. If you choose not to compete, attending competitions can be an excellent way to bond with and cheer on fellow team members.

How much of a time commitment is the Tufts Ballroom Team?

The Tufts Ballroom Team is as much of a time commitment as the individual dancer decides to make it. While improving one’s dancing skills requires practice and dedication, the Tufts Ballroom Team can definitely be incorporated into a busy schedule. Many of our dancers participate in other extracurricular activities such as Crew, Quidditch, Theatre, and Burlesque on top of their academic load. Furthermore, as competing is not mandatory, the Tufts Ballroom Team also welcomes dancers who are more interested in learning to dance socially.

The 19 Different Types of Ballroom Dance

One of the greatest things about ballroom dance is the variety it offers. Whether you are a seasoned expert, or a new dancer, you might catch yourself wondering, “are there 19 different types of ballroom dance?!" The answer is yes, there are, and we’ve broken them down with a list to help you understand what makes each of them unique.

Table of Contents

  1. Cha Cha (Latin)
  2. Samba (Latin)
  3. Rumba (Latin)
  4. Paso Doble (Latin)
  5. Jive (Latin)
  6. Waltz (Ballroom)
  7. Tango (Ballroom)
  8. Viennese Waltz (Ballroom)
  9. Foxtrot (Ballroom)
  10. Quickstep (Ballroom)
  11. Cha Cha (Rhythm)
  12. Rumba (Rhythm)
  13. Swing (Rhythm)
  14. Bolero (Rhythm)
  15. Mambo (Rhythm)
  16. Waltz (Smooth)
  17. Tango (Smooth)
  18. Foxtrot (Smooth)
  19. Viennese Waltz (Smooth)


International Latin

What is International Latin Dance Style?



Cha Cha

A continual, flirtatious game of “cat and mouse” - the International Cha Cha has Cuban roots, and is known for its breaking action on count “2” (unique to Cha Cha, Rumba, and Mambo) and syncopated action on counts 4&1 (also counted as “cha cha cha”). Differentiating itself from the American Cha Cha, the International style is danced with a straight leg action throughout.

How to Dance Cha Cha


2. Samba

The Samba is a ballroom dance is inspired by the Brazilian carnival dances. While Brazilian Samba is traditionally danced alone, the International Latin Samba derives rhythmic actions and high energy from its Brazilian ancestry. Samba is notably a “bouncy” dance, known for intricate combinations of timings and beat values.


3. Rumba

The International Rumba is the slowest International Latin dance in terms of music, however, it showcases alternating timings to depict fast moments within a slow dance. Known as the dance of love, the Rumba is crowd favorite, often telling a romantic story between two people. Unlike the American Rumba, the International style is danced with a straight leg action, likened to the International Cha Cha.

4. Paso Doble

Much to people's surprise, the Paso Doble originated in France, and many named figures within this dance are in French, such as “apel,” meaning “call to action" (this is a weight replacement that involves articulation of the entire foot with the ground, typically creating a stomping sound). A captivating dance style, the Paso Doble is based on the story of the Spanish Bullfight, with partners encapsulating the personalities of the Spanish Bullfighter (Matador) and either a Matador’s Cape or Spanish Dancer.

5. Jive

It’s party time! International Latin concludes with the joyful and energetic Jive. The Jive is a dance built from multiple styles of Swing: East Coast, West Coast, Lindy Hop, Jitterbug, and more. Characterized by quick feet and fun tricks, the Jive often has a crowd on their feet cheering.

International Ballroom

What is International Ballroom Dance Style?

6. Waltz

The classic, elegant, International Waltz is the quintessential, “ballroom dance” (think, Cinderella!) Known for its characteristic “123,” the Waltz is danced in a closed hold (partners do not break their frame and remain connected) from start to finish. This is a unique element to all International Ballroom dances.

How to Dance Waltz

7. Tango

The fiery and passionate Tango features staccato actions and powerful leg movements. Dancers do not have “body rise” within this dance, so it appears flatter and more linear across the dance floor. These features, along with a varied dance position and footwork, present interesting technical differences between the Tango and other International Ballroom dances.

How to Dance Tango


8. Viennese Waltz

Originating in Vienna, Austria, the Viennese Waltz is significantly faster-paced than the Waltz (often referred to as the “Slow Waltz” for this reason). The Viennese Waltz is only comprised of seven figures, therefore dancers spend a lot of time focusing on the creation of the same full, voluminous movements that seem to race around the dance floor.

How to Dance Viennese Waltz

9. Foxtrot

The jazzy foxtrot takes on a smoother appearance within the International Ballroom style, ebbing and flowing like waves across the shore. Intricate rise and falls are created by decisive footwork that anecdotally awarded Foxtrot the title of the most difficult Ballroom dance.

How to Dance Foxtrot

10. Quickstep

Leaps, kicks, and running down the floor, all while being connected to another person? In the Quickstep, dancers seem to play Tetris while dancing and navigating in and out of "traffic" on the floor. It's a true talent.


American Rhythm

What is American Rhythm Dance Style?

11. Cha Cha

The American Rhythm Cha Cha is danced from a bent leg to a straight leg, a unique element to the American style. Figures between the the International and American Cha Chas are similar, but tend have different names and are danced with a slightly different technique.

How to Dance Cha Cha

12. Rumba

The American Rumba is a mixture of International Cha Cha and Rumba. This dance allows for faster speed and steps than its International Rumba counterpart. Danced with a bent-to-straight leg action, the American Rumba is upbeat with strongly accentuated hip actions known as "Cuban Action."

How to Dance Rumba

13. Swing

The American, otherwise known as “East Coast” Swing, originated in the North American East Coast in the early 20th century. While it is more grounded, slower, and less “bouncy” than the Jive, it has a fun and invigorating energy, making it a definite crowd pleaser!

How to Dance East Coast Swing

How to Dance West Coast Swing


14. Bolero

The Bolero is a unique dance that combines aspects of the American Waltz and International Rumba. While these two dances sound completely different, they meld to create a dance with excellent flow. Think of Bolero as similar to Rumba, but with rise and fall!

How to Dance Bolero

15. Mambo

Time for some Cuban Mambo—which means time for a fiesta! Featuring shimmies and shakes, this dance usually breaks on count two and is related to Salsa and the Cumbia. When danced within a social dance setting, there are many interpretations, depending on the country.

How to Dance Mambo


American Smooth

What is American Smooth Dance Style?


16. Waltz

The American Style allows dancers to break closed frame position and combines International Styles with elements of Jazz and Contemporary. The Smooth Waltz moves seamlessly from closed position, to shadow, to side-by-side, and numerous other proximities and holds, while following the traditional “123” beat.

How to Dance Waltz

17. Tango

The eccentric and passionate Smooth Tango merges the International Style with classic Argentinian Tango elements. Staccato actions, straight lines, sharp changes are typical of this dance.

How to Dance Tango


18. Foxtrot

Made famous by Harry Fox of New York City, the Foxtrot features elements of jazz, smooth transitions, and charming characters. A slightly faster timing than the International Foxtrot allows for a more upbeat version of the dance. When thinking about the Smooth Foxtrot, think Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers—bright energy and enthusiasm!

How to Dance Foxtrot


19. Viennese Waltz

The Smooth Viennese Waltz is a billowy, emotional, and fast-paced dance to round out the four American Smooth Style dances. Significantly slower than the International Viennese Waltz, it allows dancers to evolve throughout a multitude of dance positions and styling for optimal storytelling.

How to Dance Viennese Waltz


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Types of ballroom dancing

1st European program

Slow Waltz (Slow Waltz)

Waltz is a unique dance that is available to everyone. It is performed both at the world-famous Viennese balls, and in ordinary rural clubs or at graduation parties. Waltz is the embodiment of romance and feelings in dance. It is difficult to name the name of a popular composer who would not have written his wonderful waltz melody, to which both adults and children dance today.


Tango is the epitome of diversity. Today there is a classic ballroom, passionate Argentine and even a little exotic Finnish trend. What all these trends have in common is the extraordinary nature of the dance, which combines simultaneous passion and rigor with frivolity and tenderness. That is why, despite its technical complexity, this dance has so many fans around the world.

Viennese Waltz

A very graceful, light and at the same time impetuous romantic dance, which is most often performed at weddings, graduations and other celebrations. The Viennese waltz remains consistently popular among people of all ages.
Slow Fox Since its birth, the foxtrot began to develop in two main directions: fast and slow. Its slow version is both a simple and complex dance: almost anyone can master the basics of dance, but only the most persistent and talented can comprehend its character and depth.

Quickstep Foxtrot

The word itself (Quickstep) literally means "quick step". The fast foxtrot is a fast and easy dance. Sometimes it even seems that the dancers do not touch the dance floor with their feet at all, but just soar above it in weightlessness. The same deep character of the slow foxtrot, but everything is much faster and more sensual.

2nd Latin American Program

Samba (Samba)

Samba is a unique ballroom dance that came to us from Brazil. It owes its popularity among the Brazilian population to a small dance school of a dozen people who first began to perform it at traditional dance carnivals. Today they are performed both at ballroom dancing competitions, huge festivals and carnivals, and at ordinary dance floors.

Cha-cha-cha (Cha-cha-cha)

A truly incendiary and colorful Cuban dance with a unique character. A rather funny name was given to the dance by the dancers themselves, since the sound made when they touched the floor during the dance was similar to “cha-cha-cha”. In any case, the dance is very beautiful, sensual and cheerful.


Rumba is one of the most emotional ballroom dances. An incredible extravaganza of feelings and emotional nuances that does not leave indifferent either the audience or the dancers themselves. Passion and flame of ballroom dancing.


The embodiment of struggle in dance. Paso Doble tells the audience about the struggle. She is everywhere: in life, in love, in work, in friendship and in dance... Paso Doble's Spanish roots give him even more aggressiveness, emotions and feelings.


One of the most popular varieties of swing, but with free movements, some will for imagination. The main difference between Jive can be considered the presence of especially dangerous choreographic throws. This dance is not for beginners, because it requires not only good physical shape and courage, but also a lot of experience. The pleasure of dancing is received not only by partners, but also by the audience, because Jive is a storm of adrenaline and passion.

Twelve types of ballroom dancing

Ballroom dancing

People all over the world love and enjoy ballroom dancing. It should be noted right away that ballroom dancing is always paired. Once they were performed at balls, but now they are essentially sports dances, in which competitions are held. The following 12 ballroom dances are popular on dance floors, on stage, in films and on television.


1 Cha-cha-cha

Cha-cha-cha is a lively, flirtatious ballroom dance full of passion and energy. The classic "Cuban moves" give cha-cha-cha their unique style. The partners in it must practice a lot together in order to perfectly synchronize each movement.


2 Foxtrot

Foxtrot is a ballroom dance that is very fun and easy to learn. Therefore, it is an excellent dance for beginners. Foxtrot is a flowing dance in which the performers make long and "fluid" movements across the floor.


3 Jive

Jive is a style of ballroom dancing that originated in the United States among African Americans. This is a livelier form of swing and jitterburg.

Lindy Hop

4 Lindy Hop

The Lindy Hop is a ballroom dance that is considered the father of all swing dances. It is known for its unique athletic style and often contains jumps, twists and somersaults.


5 Mambo

Mambo is one of the most sensual and emotional Latin American ballroom dances. Swinging movements of the pelvis, facial expressions, movements of the hands ... all this adds to the sensuality of the dance.

Paso Doble

6 Paso Doble

Paso Doble is one of the liveliest ballroom dances, originating from the South of France. It models the sounds, drama and movements of Spanish bullfighting.


7 Quickstep

Quickstep is a fast version of the foxtrot. It is a ballroom dance consisting of extremely fast movements, syncopated foot rhythms and fast steps. Quickstep dancers are always interesting to watch, but they are one of the most difficult ballroom dances to perform.


8 Rumba

Rumba is considered by many to be the most romantic and sensual Latin American ballroom dance. She is often referred to as the "Grandfather of Latin American Dance".


9 Samba

Perhaps the most popular of all Brazilian ballroom dances. Samba is popular among both young people and older people. It can be danced solo or with a partner.


10 Tango

Tango is one of the most exciting ballroom dances.

Learn more