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Arthur Murray Dance Studios of Central New Jersey

What is Ballroom Dance and Can I Do It?

Arthur Murray Dance Studios of Central New Jersey

Ballroom dance can mean many things, from DWTS to a bride and groom’s first dance. Just what falls under the ballroom umbrella?

What is ballroom dance anyway?
When people hear the words “ballroom dance,” sweeping gowns and royal balls are what most often comes to mind. While that’s not wrong — Cinderella definitely had some lessons — the world of ballroom dance encompasses endless varieties, genres, and styles of dance. In fact, almost any type of partner dance can be classified as ballroom dance — from country two step to salsa to waltz.

Ballroom Dances: how they came to be
Over time however, some dances have become more closely associated with ballroom than others. While older dances like the Polka or Minuet are now considered historic dances, the dances that have been accepted into the modern ballroom canon are the ones we can dance to modern/popular music. Any music you hear at a wedding, Latin club, or cruise are a good measure of which dances are still around, like hustle, salsa, and foxtrot.

Specialty Partner Dances
That’s not to say the only dances you can do are waltzes or rumbas. If you want to learn kizomba or Argentine tango, all you have to do is ask your teacher! These dances are considered specialty dances and are usually specific to a particular region or culture. Competition dancers won’t typically dance these highly stylistic dances at a competition, but your teachers will be able to give you a social version of them for you to enjoy.

So that begs the question, what is competitive dancing versus social dancing? And do they both fall under the ballroom umbrella?

Arthur Murray Dance Studios of Central New Jersey
Social Dancing vs. Competitive Dancing
A lot of students aren’t interested in competing when they first walk through the studio doors. Most are here to work on their posture, get more out of a wedding, or just to have a casual date night learning something new and fun together.

In other words, most Arthur Murray students are social dancers, or they have the ability to dance with anyone, anywhere, anytime. Of these social students, some will decide to take their dancing to a higher level and start to compete. Both are considered ballroom dancing and both are legitimate. It’s up to you and what goals you want to set for yourself.

International Ballroom vs. American Ballroom
Because most Arthur Murray students are social dancers, most study American style ballroom. If you do choose to take your dancing to the competitive world, however, you have another rift in the ballroom umbrella: International vs. American style.

When you search “ballroom” on YouTube, most of what comes up are International dance competitions. International style of dance is also referred to as dance sport, because the style of dancing does not lend itself as easily to social dancing. Here’s what else you need to know:

American Smooth vs. Standard dances
These dances are closely related, but American style features more break always between partners and open footwork. The dances are Waltz, Tango, Viennese waltz, and foxtrot.

International Standard has figures danced in closed dance position only. The dances are waltz tango, Viennese waltz, quickstep, and foxtrot.

American Rhythm vs. Latin Dances
Also fairly similar, American rhythm feature a sensual body movement, but are mostly danced in the US and Canada. The dances are rumba, mambo, cha cha, east coast swing, and bolero.

International Latin dances are danced with a different leg action compared to its American counterpart. Movement is very sharp and precise, hence the name dancesport. The dances are paso doble, cha cha, rumba, samba, and jive.

Can you learn international dance just for fun? Of course! No matter what path you choose to take with your dancing, the key thing is to enjoy it! Arthur Murray is a studio dedicated to ensuring every person can enjoy dancing, whether it be competitive or not.

So what are you waiting for? Find a studio near you!


Written by Jindalae Suh for Arthur Murray Central New Jersey

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Zach Clark
Zach Clark
Roxanne & Ben were invaluable in helping prep us for our wedding. What a fun and rewarding crash course in the art of the box step and twirl.
R VS
R VS
Ben and Roxanne are both such fun, skilled instructors! My fiancé and I had a four lesson “crash course” with them during which they helped us get ready for the first dance at our wedding. We haven’t had our wedding yet, but we feel so much more confident for the big day after learning the dance they choreographed for our song! We can’t wait to refine it and have a blast.
Daniel Brawand
Daniel Brawand
This place is really sweet. The instructors are all very knowledgeable, kind, and fun! You can tell they really put effort into building a sense of community and non judgement. A refreshing experience to be a part of the little Arthur Murray family for a while while I lived in this part of town. Highly recommend for anyone like me that doesn’t have any experience and wants to give it a go in a welcoming place with folks of all skill levels 👍.
Daniel Stevens
Daniel Stevens
Had our dance lessons here for our wedding. I went in not being able to keep a beat and with no dance knowledge. After just 2 months of classes I felt confident during mine and my wife’s first dance. We worked closest with Ben and he was excellent. Every time we got to work with Bob and Roxanne their enthusiasm rubbed off on us and we had a great time.
Sooseon Kim
Sooseon Kim
Arthur Murray/ An unforgettable Memory, Sooseon Kim “Life may not be the party we hoped for, but while we’re here we should dance.” Hi. This is Susan Kim. I’m from Seoul, Korea. I want to share a very special experience I had during last summer. I was so lucky to join the ballroom dance classes for 2 weeks at Arthur Murray (Franchised Dance Centers), located in Highland Park, NJ After the first free lesson and consultation with the instructor, Ben, I instantly decided to register Arthur Murray and spend my time & energy on Ballroom dancing. Ben recommended me to choose ‘Starter Program Package’. At that time, I only had two weeks left before going back to Korea. He explained to me, “It would be great to experience as many as possible in various ways. Starter Program consists of Individual Lesson, Group Lesson and Practice Session. How was it? It was an absolutely awesome experience. All the teachers and staff were kind, friendly and gorgeous. Also, the atmosphere of the studio was very comfortable and convenient for the sake of students. Needless to say, Ben was a very gentle, professional and confident teacher. I instantly figured out how extremely well-qualified he was. I was amazed by not only his elaborate teaching skills but also his endless patience with his students.^^ Actually, I never expected that there was a decent dance studio near my place, New Brunswick. I only searched several dance centers in Manhattan and gave up easily due to an inconvenient location. That’s why I was so excited to find out Arthur Murray in Highland Park. “Exposure & Repetition” these two key words that Ben emphasized to me every time. Those two words are still kept in my mind.
Alice Carroll
Alice Carroll
We have loved our classes at Arthur Murray! My husband and I have always wanted to be able to dance at weddings and now we can and do! We enjoyed our beginners program so much that we signed up for the next level as a 30th anniversary present to ourselves. The teachers are all wonderful and so are our fellow students. Highly recommend!
Bob Gai
Bob Gai
Great place, awesome people.. You will love it there..!
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