Couples compete against other couples with the same level of experience in all the dances. There are several main categories at collegiate and USA Dance competitions:
- Newcomer / Pre-Bronze
- Beginner / Bronze
- Intermediate / Silver
- Advanced / Gold
Generally only people who have competed for less than 6 months are considered Newcomers. Pre-Bronze to Gold are “Syllabus” levels and must follow syllabus steps. Novice, Pre-Champ and Champ are “Open” levels and open choreographies can be danced.
Bronze, Silver and Gold Level Ballroom Dancing
Bronze, silver and gold levels of ballroom dancing each have their own syllabus of steps, goal for the dancer and difficulty level. Learning what they mean help the dancer know where they belong based on their skill level. Many ballroom dancing group classes are grouped by these designations.
Syllabus (fixed dance figures)
Bronze Level Ballroom Dancing
Bronze level is the most basic level of ballroom dancing, and this is where all new students should start. The goal of this level is to teach the dancer good balance, rhythm and how to move their body. They learn how to dance with a partner and work as a team.
In American Style ballroom dances like Waltz and Foxtrot, there is very little “continuity”, which is where the dancers pass their feet and flow into the next step. Instead, they end most patterns by bringing their feet together. The patterns in bronze level tend to be fairly simple, although they increase in complexity and difficulty as the dancer moves from beginning bronze to intermediate bronze and then to full bronze.
Silver Level Ballroom Dancing
When the dancer has mastered the basics of bronze level, they are usually ready to move on into silver. This is when ballroom dancing really gets fun—the steps flow more gracefully from one to the next, and the dancer learns to make bigger movements with more turns and arm styling. They are expected to use good technique, balance, partnering skills and do it all with flair.
Gold Level Ballroom Dancing
Gold level is the highest level that the syllabus goes to. Dancers at this level have even better balance and perform even more difficult patterns than silver level dancers. At this level, it becomes very apparent if the dancer has not established a good foundation in their dancing, because they are unable to perform many of the steps at all, let alone well.
Open Level Ballroom Dancing (no fixed figures – increasing difficulty)
- Championship (highest level)
Novice, Pre-Championship, and Championship levels allow “open” choreography. For most dance styles there is a no lift rule.