Competitive ballroom dancing, as distinct from the leisure activity, has recently been renamed throughout the world as "dancesport" (the sport of competition dancing).

Dancesport has a highly organized international competition structure and is conducted at the highest competitive level. Dancesport will be included in the 2000 Olympics as a demonstration event.

Dancesport is categorized in a complex way.
There are four styles:

  1. Modern (or "Standard", as it is now known internationally), incorporating the waltz, tango, slow foxtrot, quickstep and Viennese waltz;
  2. Latin American, incorporating the cha cha cha, samba, rumba, paso doble and jive;
  3. New Vogue, sequence dances Of Australian origin set to various rhythms involving the quick waltz, foxtrot, tango and march time. There are currently 14 New Vogue Championship dances.
  4. Old Time Dancing, covers sequence dances mostly of English origin, some of which use foot positions based on ballet. Not all the Old Time Dances are necessarily old at all, but the style of dancing is based in the old time tradition, rather than in the modern style.

Competitions are divided into amateur and professional categories. Amateur dancers are divided up as Juvenile (under 13 years), Junior (13 and under 16), Adult (16 year and over) and Senior (over 35). Eligibility is determined generally by the age of the older partner, and it is not uncommon to have further special age divisions such as under 11, for the tiny tots, and youth categories of 16 to 19 years.

Within each of these age divisions, there are five recognized levels or grades ranging from A (top grade) to E in each dance style. When an event is termed "open", it is open to all competitors within the age group, irrespective of their grading. Competitors can improve their grades in each style, e.g.: be a C grade in Modern and a B grade in Latin American.

Stamina: dancesport competitors proceed through heats to semi-finals and finals. In each championship section, competitors must perform five two minute dances a round. From an athletic viewpoint, a 1986 study conducted by the University of Freiburg, Germany, demonstrated that the muscle exertion (measured by the production of lactic acid) and breathing-rates of competitors performing one competition dance of about two minutes were equal to those of cyclists, swimmers and an Olympic 800 metre runner over the same period of time.


Ballroom Dancing...

Ballroom Dancing has a unique history that has contributed to its current popularity as a recreational and competitive sport. Ballroom Dancing has its origins in England during the late 18th and early 19th century, primarily among the upper class who participated in social events at balls. During the late 19th and early 20th century, Ballroom Dancing became popular among the working class who attended public dance halls or "popular assemblies." Ballroom competitions gained popularity during the early 1920s. In 1924, the Ballroom Branch of the Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing was formed; its mission was to standardize the music, steps, and technique of Ballroom Dancing. Throughout the years, Ballroom Dancing gained increased popularity throughout Europe, Asian-Pacific, and the Americas.