Dancesport denotes competitive ballroom dancing,[1] as contrasted to social or exhibition dancing. In the case of wheelchair dancesport, at least one of the dancers is in a wheelchair.

Dancesport events are sanctioned and regulated by dancesport organizations at the national and international level, such as the World DanceSport Federation.

The name was invented to help competitive ballroom dancing gain Olympic recognition.[2] The physical demand of dancesport has been the subject of scientific research.[3][4][5][6]

MIT 2006 Standard Prechamp Final 2
An amateur dancesport competition at MIT
Highest governing bodyWDSF and WDC
Mixed genderYes
World Games1997 – present


The first unofficial world championship took place in 1909,[7] and the first formation team[8] was presented in 1932 by Olive Ripman at the Astoria Ballroom, London.[1][9] Dancesport was first broadcast on TV in 1960.[10]


The term dancesport applies to the International Style,[11] as well as American Style of competitive ballroom. It includes the following categories:

  • International Standard
  • International Latin
  • American Smooth
  • American Rhythm

These categories apply to both individual couples and formation dance.

International governing organizations

World Dance Council

The World Dance Council (WDC) is a registered limited company, and the legal successor to the International Council of Ballroom Dancing (ICBD), which was formed in 1950 in Edinburgh.[7] The WDC operates through a general council and two committees:

  • The World Dance Sport Committee regulates professional dancesport at the international level.
  • The World Social Dance Committee "deals with all matters of the dance profession that relate to the activities of Dance Schools and Dance Teachers".[12] It does not regulate social dance directly – that is the business of individual organisers, the dance teacher organisations, such as the Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing, and the chains of dance teaching schools in the United States.

In 2007 the WDC Amateur League was created.[13] This organisation runs a number of competitions and has its own world ranking system for amateur dancers.

Each member country in the WDC has its own national organisation, such as the British Dance Council, which acts as a forum for the many interested parties in that country. The national bodies decide on their delegates to the WDC.

World DanceSport Federation

The World DanceSport Federation (WDSF), formerly the International DanceSport Federation (IDSF), is the international governing body of dancesport, as recognised by the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

Founded in 1957 as the International Council of Amateur Dancers (ICAD), it took up the name IDSF in 1990. In 2011 it was renamed to WDSF to emphasise the global character of the organization.

In the past, the focus of the IDSF was on administering amateur dancers and competitions. However, in 2010 the IDSF Professional Division was created (formerly known as the IPDSC), which extended this focus to professional dancesport.[10]

WDSF members are not permitted to dance in competitions unless they are granted by the WDSF, or one of its member federations.[14]

  • This policy was revoked in 2012 at the Annual General Meeting by vote of the members. The WDSF now supports an athlete's "right to dance".


Ballroom dance competition cha cha 3
Junior cha-cha-cha competition in Czech Republic

There are a wide variety of dance competitions. They range from the well known Blackpool Dance Festival, an event open to all, to competitions conducted exclusively for university students, such as those hosted by the Inter Varsity Dance Association in the UK.

Amateur competitions commonly include events that group dancers by age, experience, or both. For example, events might group young dancers by age, such as: juvenile (<12yrs), junior (12-16yrs), and youth (16-19yrs). Events may sometimes cover a wide range of ages, with groupings such as: under 21yrs, adult, senior I (Over 35yrs), senior II (Over 45yrs), senior III (Over 55yrs, and senior IV (Over 65yrs).

Competitors may also be grouped by experience level, with categories such as Beginner, Novice, Intermediate, Pre-Amateur and Amateur. These generally correspond to the number of the dances to be performed in the competition, with Beginners performing one dance, and those at Amateur level performing five. In some competitions these are categorized into grades from A to E, with "A" the equivalent of the Amateur level, and "E" corresponding to the "Beginner" level.

WDSF minimum competition dance area size standard

WDSF governing bodies in different countries have the flexibility to decide on the dance area size for competitions held in the country.

Location Official Standard Compare Square Meter Compare Square Feet
Europe 26m x 16m 416 4478
China 23m x 15m 345 3714
USA 60' x 36' 201 2160
Canada 60' x 35' 195 2100

In December 2011, the WDSF Open and the Australian Nationals were held at the Hisense Arena located within the Olympic park in Melbourne. The floor was at 84 by 37.7 meters which was 7.61 times the size of what WDSF requires.


The World Dance Council (WDC) rules for international competitions are lengthy and detailed.[15] The music for competitions is kept confidential until the event. The music always follows a strict tempo and, for a couples competition, it will have a duration of no less than 90 seconds, and no more than two minutes.

Some elementary competitions are restricted to "basic" steps, but international competitions are open as to choreography, within the limits of the traditional style of the individual dances. Only the Viennese waltz has defined choreography: it is limited to seven well-specified figures. Lifts are not permitted, except for Show Dance titles. The tempo for each dance is defined. In the finals, couples are marked under the skating system and judged by timing, footwork, rise and fall, alignment, direction and floor craft. Competitors must meet World Anti-Doping Agency rules.

Dancesport as an Olympic event

After a long campaign, the World DanceSport Federation (WDSF), formerly IDSF, was recognized by the International Olympic Committee as the sole representative body for dancesport, on September 5, 1997.[16][17] At that point, many dance organisations changed their titles to incorporate the word sport. This recognition gives the IDSF, potentially, a unique status. The WDSF website shows letters and certificates from the IOC that recognise dancesport as an eligible sport for inclusion pursuant to rule 29 of the Olympic Charter.[18] [19]

On its website, the IDSF gives an upbeat appraisal of the chances of dancesport being included in a future summer Olympic Games.[20] However, dancesport has not been included as an official event at the Olympics since its recognition,[21] and there are many who doubt that it ever will.[22][23] The 2008 Beijing Olympics did not include ballroom dancing and neither did the 2012 London Olympics.[24] However, it was announced in December 2016 that the dancesport discipline of breakdancing would form part of the programme for the 2018 Summer Youth Olympics, with men's, women's and mixed-team events included in a one-on-one battle format.[25]

Physical demands

Ballroom dancing is a partnered activity with a male and female counterpart. Over the years, competitive ballroom dancing has evolved so much in its choreography, requiring a higher level of athleticism. Many individuals that spectate or dance socially often underestimate the physical attributes and demands of ballroom dancing. In order to compete at a world level, elite competitive dancers undergo rigorous training to help and enhance their competition performance. These dancers seem to perform at such a high level of energy expenditure that a deeper understanding of these energy demands may help build specific training programs used to sustain a high quality dance performance consistent over a few rounds of a competition.

In 1988, an Australian study was conducted to determine the heart rate and estimated energy expended during ballroom dancing.[26] Professors Blanksby and Reidy of the Department of Human Movement and Recreation Studies at the University of Western had ten competitive ballroom dance couples simulate a dancesport competition, dancing their competitive routines in either the Latin American or Standard division.[26] After administrating all required laboratory tests (in order to record their height, weight, body fat percentage, fat free mass and the resting/maximal heart rate and VO2 values), the couples danced a five-dance final, given a 15 to 20 second break between each dance.[26] Throughout the final their heart rates were telemetered and recorded. The purpose of this study was to estimate the energy requirements from heart rates acquired during competition simulation and previously recorded measures of VO2 and HR.

The average heart rate for male dancers in Standard was 170 beats min−1 and 168 beats min−1 in the Latin American.[26] Females elicited 179 beats min−1 and 177 beats min−1 respectively.[26] Astrand and Rodahl (1977) classify any exercise being extremely heavy if it results in a heart rate above 150 beats min−1.[27] They also classify an exercise as extremely heavy if oxygen consumption is higher than 2.0L min−1.[28] All but the females in the Standard dance sequence didn't exceed an oxygen consumption level of 2.0L min−1.[26] Finally, the energy expenditure for male athletes was estimated to be 54.1 ± 8.1 kJ min−1 for Standard and 54.0± 9.6kJ min−1 in the Latin American dances.[26] For females it was 34.7 ± 3.8 kJ min−1 and 36.1 ± 4.1 kJ min−1 respectively.[26]

Two other similar experiments were conducted exhibiting very similar results and analyses.[29][30] In all three of the experiments, significant differences in the energy expenditure between the male and female athletes were noticed. Generally males had a higher energy expenditure than their female counterparts. This is evident due to the anthropometric differences between the two sexes and the oxygen transport capacity.[29]

Comparing the mean gross energy expenditures (in kJ min−1) between ballroom dancing and other sports, it is evident that competitive dancing is equally as demanding in comparison to other sporting activities such as basketball (35.83 kJ min−1) or cross-country running (44.37kJ min−1) (Consolazioetal,1963),[31] and that ballroom dancing requires a cardiovascular system to be able to work at a high energy level in order to match the given physiological strain.

See also


  1. ^ a b "History of Dancesport by Dancesport Ireland". Archived from the original on January 6, 2009. Retrieved 2009-03-29.
  2. ^ McMain, Julie 2006. Glamour addiction: inside the American ballroom dance industry. Weslyan, Middletown CT. p1
  3. ^ Biomechanics of dancesport: a kinematic approach ISSN 0025-7826
  4. ^ Blanksby & Reidy 1988
  5. ^ Dancing as a Sport Article Archived 2011-02-02 at the Wayback Machine
  6. ^ IDSF Research Paper Archived 2009-03-05 at the Wayback Machine
  7. ^ a b Wainwright, Lyndon [1997]. The story of British popular dance. International Dance Publications, Brighton.
  8. ^ pattern or shadow dancing to a rehearsed routine by groups of couples
  9. ^ Spencer, Frank and Peggy 1968. Come dancing. Allen, London. Chapter 3, p33.
  10. ^ a b "WDSF History". Retrieved 2011-08-25.
  11. ^ Lomax, Sondra (2000-09-22). "Sweeping a dance floor near you". Austin American-Statesman. p. F1.
  12. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2011-07-25. Retrieved 2009-10-25.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  13. ^ "To All Competitors, Coaches/Trainers". World Dance Council - Amateur League. Archived from the original on 2010-12-19. Retrieved 2010-09-21.
  14. ^ "Code of Conduct and Standards of Ethics". Retrieved 2011-08-25.
  15. ^ World Dance Council
  16. ^ Long, Daniel 1999. Qualifying for Olympic status: the process and implications for competitive ballroom dance. Master's thesis, Brigham Young University.
  17. ^ ISDF
  18. ^ "Official Letter from Mr. Juan Antonio Samaranch". Archived from the original on 2010-10-13. Retrieved 2010-09-04.
  19. ^ "Official IOC Certificate". Archived from the original on 2010-06-26. Retrieved 2010-09-04.
  20. ^ "IOC: Green Light for DanceSport" (PDF). International DanceSport Federation. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2004-10-17.
  21. ^ "International DanceSport Federation". - Official website of the Olympic Movement.
  22. ^ McMain, Julie 2006. Glamour addiction: inside the American ballroom dance industry. Weslyan, Middletown CT. p101 note 2.
  23. ^ Hanley, Elizabeth A. 2000. A perennial dilemma: artistic sports in the Olympic Games. Journal of Olympic History p39–46.
  24. ^ "Olympic Sports London 2012". Official site of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. Archived from the original on 2010-11-25. Retrieved 2010-09-09.
  25. ^ "Three new sports to join Buenos Aires 2018 YOG programme". - Official website of the Olympic Movement. Retrieved 2017-08-25.
  26. ^ a b c d e f g h Blanksby, B. A.; Reidy, P. W. (June 1988). "Heart rate and estimated energy expenditure during ballroom dancing". British Journal of Sports Medicine. 22 (2): 57–60. PMC 1478556. PMID 3167503.
  27. ^ Astrand, P.-O. and Rodahl, K. (1977). "Textbook of Work Physiology. McGraw-HilBookCo". Missing or empty |url= (help); |access-date= requires |url= (help)CS1 maint: Multiple names: authors list (link)
  28. ^ Astrand, P.-O. and Rodahl, K. (1977). "Textbook of Work Physiology. McGraw-HilBookCo". Missing or empty |url= (help); |access-date= requires |url= (help)CS1 maint: Multiple names: authors list (link)
  29. ^ a b Massidda, M.; Cugusi, L; Ibba, M; Tradori, I; Calò, C.M. (Dec 2011). "Energy expenditure during competitive Latin American dancing simulation". Medical problems of performing artists. 26 (4): 206–10. PMID 22211197.
  30. ^ Jensen, K.J., Jørgensen, S. J., Johansen, L.J. (2001). "Heart Rate and Blood Lactate Concentration during Ballroom Dancing". Retrieved 26 March 2013.CS1 maint: Multiple names: authors list (link)
  31. ^ Consolazio, C.,Johnson, R. and Pecora, L., (1963). "Physiological Measurement of Metabolic Functions in Man. McGraw-Hill BookCo". Missing or empty |url= (help); |access-date= requires |url= (help)CS1 maint: Multiple names: authors list (link)

External links

All India DanceSport Federation

The All India DanceSport Federation (AIDSF) is the national sports federation for dancesport in India.

The AIDSF was founded in 2003. It is a full member of the World DanceSport Federation, and has been affiliated to the body since 20 June 2007. However, the AIDSF is not recognized by the Indian Olympic Association.

Ballroom dance

Ballroom dance is a set of partner dances, which are enjoyed both socially and competitively around the world. Because of its performance and entertainment aspects, ballroom dance is also widely enjoyed on stage, film, and television.

Ballroom dance may refer, at its widest definition, to almost any type of partner dancing as recreation. However, with the emergence of dancesport in modern times, the term has become narrower in scope and traditionally refers to the five International Standard and five International Latin style dances (see dance categories below). The two styles, while differing in technique, rhythm and costumes, exemplify core elements of ballroom dancing such as control and cohesiveness. Developed in England, the two styles are now regulated by the World Dance Council (WDC) and the World DanceSport Federation (WDSF). In the United States, two additional variations are popular: American Smooth and American Rhythm, which combine elements of the Standard and Latin styles with influences from other dance traditions.

There are also a number of historical dances, and local or national dances, which may be danced in ballrooms or salons. Sequence dancing, in pairs or other formations, is still a popular style of ballroom dance.

Ballroom tango

Ballroom tango is a ballroom dance that branched away from its original Argentine roots by allowing European, American, Hollywood, and competitive influences into the style and execution of the dance.

The present day ballroom tango is divided into two disciplines: American Style and International Style. Both styles may be found in social and competitive dances, but the International version is more globally accepted as a competitive style. Both styles share a closed dance position, but the American style allows its practitioners to separate from closed position to execute open moves, like underarm turns, alternate hand holds, dancing apart, and side-by-side choreography.

Cambridge Dancers' Club

Cambridge Dancers' Club (CDC) first opened its doors in October 1950 as a student society in the University of Cambridge to promote Ballroom and Latin dancing. It has since broadened the styles taught by their professional teachers to include Salsa and Rock 'n' Roll classes, as well as opening to all adult Cambridge residents. The club runs classes five nights a week during Full Term, including classes open to people with no previous dance experience. Classes also run (albeit less frequently) outside Full Term. Having once had an annual membership of over 2000, the club now has a membership that is still well over 1000 members, making it purportedly one of the largest Ballroom and Latin Dancing Clubs in Europe.

DanceSport South Africa

DanceSport South Africa (DanceSport SA) (DSSA), formerly the Federation of Dance Sport South Africa (FEDANSA), is the governing body for dancesport and related dance styles in South Africa. It is an full member of the world governing body World DanceSport Federation (WDSF) and recognised by SASCOC. DanceSport SA is the sole custodian and controlling body of organised dancesport in South Africa.

DanceSport SA organises national competitions such as National Hip-Hop Championships and the National Achievers & Championships where provincial contestants compete for national honours.Federation of DanceSport South Africa (FEDANSA) was formed in 1994 after integration of former Black and White structures in South Africa. This was in response to political changes that were taking place in South Africa towards democracy.

FEDANSA is the official controlling structure and sole custodian of DanceSport and related dance styles in South Africa, issuing Provincial and Protea colours in South Africa.

In 2014 after 20 years of South African democracy and the birth of Federation of DanceSport South Africa known as FEDANSA. It was time for the federation to revise its long-awaited look by designing a new logotype for the Federation of DanceSport South Africa. The logo had to identify the South African DanceSport unity and incorporate South African gold and green national sport colours.

The design was to introduce the new name DANCESPORT SOUTH AFRICA a change that is representative of all dance forms that are recognised by SASCOC and to be adaptable to an imminent restructure of the organisation.

DANCESPORT SOUTH AFRICA is member of the South African Confederation of Sports and Olympic Committee (SASCOC), founding member of the South African DanceSport Federation (a Zone Six DanceSport Structure) and World DanceSport Federation (WDSF) which is the only International DanceSport Organisation recognized by International Olympics Committee (IOC), General Association of International Sports Federations (GAISF), International World Games Association (IWGA) and Association of the IOC Recognized Sports Federations (ARISF).

DANCESPORT SOUTH AFRICA’s main members are provinces and Associate Members. Different commissions take care of interests’ groups and experts and facilitate access and growth of DanceSport. These are DanceSport Technical Commission, Disabled DanceSport Commission, School Sport Commission and Athletes' Commission.

DanceSport is one of the most graceful sports, where men and women compete on equal terms – a 100% gender parity. It is a team sport danced in partnership between man and woman using required technique together with floor craft and artistic interpretation to produce highly disciplined dance performance. DanceSport developed out of the narrow confines of Ballroom dancing but today includes any dance style which has achieved internationally recognized competition structure and has adopted a sport-based culture. DanceSport has grown tremendously in the past few years, particularly in townships and rural areas. This is attributed to the fact that the sport was foreign to these communities for a long time.

Following IOC recognition, the World DanceSport Federation (WDSF) continues to work for the inclusion of DanceSport as a medal sport in the Olympic Games. There is a clear correlation between DanceSport and the existing Olympic Winter sport of Ice Dancing, and there is no doubt that DanceSport will become one of the popular tele-sports.

Dancesport at the 1998 Asian Games

Dancesport at the 1998 Asian Games was held in Thai-Japanese Stadium, Bangkok, Thailand from December 7 to 8, 1998 as a demonstration sport.

There were two events at the competition, standard dance and the latin dance,

Dancesport at the 2005 Southeast Asian Games

Dancesport was an event at the 2005 Southeast Asian Games. The competition took place on November 27, 2005 in the Main Hall of the Waterfront Cebu City Hotel & Casino in Cebu City, Philippines.

Medals were contested in 2 dance categories.

Latin American dances

Standard dancesDancesport was one of the new disciplines introduced in the 23rd SEA Games due to its popularity to the host country.

Dancesport at the 2007 Southeast Asian Games

Dancesport was an event at the 2007 Southeast Asian Games. The competition took place in the Auditorium of the Wongchawalitkul University, Amphoe Mueang Nakhon Ratchasima, Nakhon Ratchasima Province, Thailand.

Dancesport at the 2010 Asian Games

Dancesport at the 2010 Asian Games was held in Zengcheng Gymnasium, Guangzhou, China from November 13 to 14, 2010.

Dancesport at the 2018 Summer Youth Olympics

Dancesport at the 2018 Summer Youth Olympics was held from 7 to 11 October. The competition took place at Puerto Madero in Buenos Aires, Argentina. This marked the debut of the sport at the Youth Olympics. The discipline of street dance (breakdancing) was held at the games.

Dancesport at the Asian Games

Dancesport is a competitive team sport which includes ballroom dancing. The sport became a part of the Asian Games (Asian Summer Games) as a medal sport in 2010 in Guangzhou, People's Republic of China. International governing body of Dancesport, World DanceSport Federation, was recognized by the International Olympic Committee in 1995, and subsequently in 1997 the Asian representative of the sport, Asian DanceSport Federation, was recognized by the Olympic Council of Asia. After the recognition of the Asian DanceSport Federation, the sport was demonstrated at the 1998 Asian Games in Bangkok, Thailand.

Dancesport at the World Games

DanceSport has been part of the World Games since the 1997 edition. Among the disciplines are Standard, Latin, Salsa and Rock'n'Roll.

List of Asian Games medalists in dancesport

This is the complete list of Asian Games medalists in dancesport in 2010.

Oxford University Dancesport Club

Oxford University Dancesport Club (OUDC) is Oxford University’s largest sports club and is the second largest club at the university after the Oxford Union. Founded in 1968 it currently has an annual membership of around 800 members. It runs professionally taught classes in the following dance styles:


Latin American


Argentine Tango



ZumbaIts classes are open to all (including non-university members) and cater to all levels of experience. The Club also runs occasional workshops and a weekly social dance on Sundays in full term and on some Sundays out of term.

WDSF European Formation Latin Championship

The WDSF European Formation Latin Championship is the main annual formation International Latin dancesport championship in Europe.

WDSF World Formation Latin Championships

The WDSF World Formation Latin Championship is the main annual formation International Latin dancesport championship worldwide.

Wheelchair DanceSport

Wheelchair DanceSport is a partner dance competition and Dancesport where at least one of the dancers is in a wheelchair.

World DanceSport Federation

The World DanceSport Federation (WDSF), formerly the International DanceSport Federation (IDSF), is the international governing body of DanceSport and Wheelchair DanceSport, as recognised by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the International Paralympic Committee (IPC).

Founded in 1957 as the International Council of Amateur Dancers (ICAD), it took the name IDSF in 1990. In 2011, it was renamed to WDSF to emphasise the global character of the organization.

World Dance Council

The World Dance Council Ltd (WDC), is a registered limited company, the legal successor to the International Council of Ballroom Dancing, and was established at a meeting organized by Phillip J. S. Richardson on 22 September 1950 in Edinburgh. For a period from 1996 to 2006, the WDC was known as the World Dance & Dance Sport Council Ltd (WD&DSC).[1] The mission of the World Dance Council is to inspire, stimulate and promote excellence in education for the World Dance Council and Amateur League (WDC and AL) communityThe primary objective, at the time of its formation, was to provide an agreed basis for holding world championships in competitive ballroom dance. That objective has been achieved.[2] Initially consisting of nine European countries and three others, today the WDC has become the leading authority on professional dance competitions, with members in numerous countries throughout the world. Each country is allowed one vote. As of 2006 there are 59 members. Its governing body, the Presidium, consists of a President and a number of Vice-Presidents, in 2014 seven Vice Presidents were elected.

WDC includes the Competitive Dance Committee, the Dancesation Committee and the a private public partnership agreement with the WDC Amateur League (WDCAL)

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