The first big difference between American and International Ballroom is the dances themselves.
- American Ballroom is broken down into two categories, called Smooth and Rhythm.
- The dances for American Smooth are: the Waltz, Tango, Foxtrot, and Viennese Waltz. Currently there is no fifth dance in American Smooth, but there is talk of adding American Quickstep to the list.
- The dances for American Rhythm are: Cha Cha, Rumba, East Coast Swing, Bolero, and Mambo.
- The American style of ballroom dance uses a more open position, uses under-arm turns, and the lines created between dance partners are more open.
- Dips, turns and side-by-side moves are allowed and encouraged.
- Most often found on the social ballroom dance floor.
- International Ballroom is broken down into the Standard and Latin categories.
- The dances for International Standard are: Waltz, Tango, Foxtrot, Viennese Waltz and the Quickstep.
- The International Latin dances are: the Cha Cha, Rumba, Jive, Paso Doble, and Samba.
- I can’t actually tell you the reason why Jive is listed under Latin and Tango is listed as a Standard dance; that’s just the way International Ballroom is divided.
- International Ballroom is all about maintaining the connection with your partner. The dancers keep close to each other and the lead and follow operate around a common center as they move. The open position that happens in American Ballroom does not happen at all in International Ballroom. Dips, turns and side-by-side moves that are perfectly acceptable in American Ballroom are not allowed in the International style of ballroom dance.
- In the United States, International Ballroom is primarily danced in competitions, while American Ballroom is most often danced on the social dance floor. This is just a rule of thumb, as you’re bound to find both American and International Ballroom being dance socially.