Ballroom dance is recognized as a set of partner dances that are enjoyed in social and competitive settings around the world. However, as new styles of dance emerge the interpretation of what is ballroom dancing has changed as well. Two of the most popular variations are American Smooth and American Rhythm which refer to the flow of the movements. These are both “open hold” styles which allow the dancers to perform solo moves, before rejoining. While the differences are obvious there are many similarities and crossover techniques that are prevalent in each dance. Most importantly, regardless of the style you must maintain timing, footwork, posture and frame.
Smooth dances include the Waltz, Tango, Foxtrot & Viennese Waltz; these are the easiest to begin with and are recognized for the elegant, graceful and fluid movements. While these dances can navigate any size dance floor, they are more often characterized by their ability to circumnavigate a large floor a few times per song. Despite the graceful appearance of these dances they do require athleticism and training. Throughout the dance you are planning the next sequence or enjoying the movement which can leave you out of breath when the song comes to an end.
Rhythm dances on the other hand mostly originated in Cuba and Africa and consist of sultry movements and suggestive hip rotations often referred to as the “Cuban motion.” The range is rather broad but mainly consists of ten dances depending on what you consider. To give an idea of these dances think of Bolero, Cha Cha, Hustle, Mambo, Merengue, Rumba, Salsa, Swing, and Rumba. Rhythm dances can be danced to practically any type of music from Jazz to Hip Hop. These dances are considered to be the opposite of Smooth because the goal is not to cover space but to accentuate the beat of the music with your body, to paint a picture with your partner as you interpret the music.