Ballroom dancing is a series of dances performed at competitions and for fun. To make sure dances are safe, fun and fair, ballroom competitions generally have rules that influence who dances against who and how dancers are scored. These rules vary from competition to competition, but there some rules common in most competitions.
The four main ballroom dance categories fall into either the American style or the international style. The smooth and rhythm categories are American style, and the standard and Latin categories are international style. Dancers most often perform the tango, samba, foxtrot and cha-cha at competitions. Dancers most often perform other dances -- such as the polka, hustle and West Coast Swing -- for fun. The music for each dance type must have a specific tempo and length based on the dance. The tempo is defined by measures per minute (mpm).
Dance difficulty depends on the level of competition. Dancers are placed in specific categories. For college competitions, the designations are newcomer, bronze syllabus, silver syllabus or gold syllabus. When a dancer qualifies for a higher-level of competition, that dancer cannot compete against dancers with lower designations. For example, if a dancer qualifies for gold syllabus, she cannot dance against those who qualified only for silver syllabus. However, new dancers can choose to dance at higher levels. There are also open competitions in which anyone can participate.
Dancers reach a level based on the number of points they receive from placing in competitions. In the Youth posture; confidence; timing; attractive shapes and figures; correct body positioning; poise; musical choice; expression; enthusiasm; energy; and correct footwork for the dance type. The couple should also not bump into each other, and they must have an attractive shape. Men should lead with their whole bodies, and women should follow without effort.
Dancers must wear clothing they can dance in. They should not wear clothes that can injure the partner, get tangled easily, interfere with movement or make the competitor uncomfortable. The attire for the dance should be suitable for the occasion. Some ballroom dances are informal, but formal ballroom dances usually require that men wear a coat and tie; a tuxedo; or even a black tie and white dinner jacket. At formal events, women usually must wear dresses. Men should have a hairstyle that looks neat, and they should shave their facial hair. Women should put up their hair neatly and use gel or hair spray. Women should wear more makeup than usual to make it visible onstage.
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