Q: What is Ballroom?

A: At its core, Ballroom refers to several individual dances that are danced with a partner. The origins of these dances date back hundreds of years; from the grand palaces in Vienna (Viennese Waltz) to the daring matadors of Spain (Paso Doble). Today, Ballroom is characterized by its competitive nature, intricate costumes, and its oh so fancy footwork!

Q: What are the different dances?

A: Competitive Ballroom Dance comprises 4 different styles: American Smooth, International Standard, American Rhythm, and International Latin. The categories differ by the steps allowed in each dance and the styling employed in dancing the steps.

In the Smooth and Standard styles, dancers gracefully travel around the floor while maintaining a strong frame. International Standard is distinctive in that it is danced in a closed dance position, whereas American Smooth allows the partnership to “open up” in several steps.

In the Rhythm and Latin styles, dancers typically travel less while focusing more on intense hip action and flare. International Latin is distinctive in that the hip action is achieved after stepping onto a “straight leg,” whereas the hip action of American Rhythm is achieved by flexing the knee after taking a step.

As their names suggest, International Standard and Latin are competed internationally, while American Smooth and Rhythm are only competed here in the United States.

There are 19 competitive dances that span these 4 styles.

American Smooth: Waltz, Tango, Foxtrot, Viennese Waltz
International Standard: Waltz, Tango, Foxtrot, Viennese Waltz, Quickstep
American Rhythm: Cha-cha, Rumba, Swing, Mambo, Bolero
International Latin: Cha-cha, Rumba, Jive, Samba, Paso Doble

There are many other social ballroom dances such as Hustle, Salsa, Merengue, and Bachata.

Q: How many lessons are held a week?

A: During the Fall semester, there are typically 2 Newcomer Lessons, 2 Bronze Lessons, and 3 Open Practices a week.  During the Spring semester, there are typically 2 Bronze Lessons, 1 Silver Lesson, and 3 Open Practices a week. As all Newcomer dancers automatically advance to the Bronze level after one semester of collegiate dancing, there is no need for Newcomer lessons in the Spring.

Q: What kind of shoes should I wear to lessons?

A: Newcomer dancers are not required to purchase shoes right from the get go. The team has many pairs of used shoes that Newcomers can use at first. However, as Newcomer dancers become more and more serious about their dancing, investing in a pair of shoes is highly recommended. Since Ballroom shoes can be very expensive, most Newcomer dancers should start off by investing in only one pair of shoes. Many dance stores in the area may offer discounts to team members.  Male dancers should begin with a pair of Smooth/ Standard shoes, while female dancers should begin with a pair pf Rhythm/ Latin shoes.  These particular shoes are more suitable for all four styles of dance then male Rhythm/ Latin shoes and female Smooth/ Standard shoes. More advanced dancers typically use two pairs of shoes; one for Smooth and Standard, and one for Rhythm and Latin.

Q: What should I wear at competitions?

A: Newcomer male dancers often wear a white button down shirt, black slacks, a vest, and a tie for Smooth and Standard dances, and a black button down and black slacks for Rhythm and Latin dances. Newcomer female dancers often wear a long, formal dress for Smooth and Standard dances and a shorter cocktail dress for Rhythm and Latin dances. Advanced male dancers often modify this setup by wearing Ballroom dance pants  for all four styles and a “costume” shirt for Rhythm and Latin. Advanced female dancer often wear dresses specifically designed for Ballroom dancing.

Q: Who should I contact with questions and concerns?

A: Contact the Executive Board at tuftsballroomdance@gmail.com

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