ballroom dancing lessons in Vancouver WA Portland ORAmerican Smooth & International Standard

At Arthur Murray, we teach ballroom dance classes at several locations in Portland, Beaverton, and Clackamas OR and Vancouver, WA. A variety of dances fall under the ballroom dance heading. For competitive dancing, the ballroom dance styles are grouped into two main categories: American Smooth and International Standard. While nearly identical, the main difference is that in International standard it requires a closed position where the dancers are in a near parallel formation facing each other for the entirety of the dance. In American Smooth dancers are allowed to use an open hold or to break hold completely. The following dances fall under the category of International Standard or American Smooth:


The Tango is one of the most beautiful of all the dances. It is characterized by earthy and dramatic movements. In order to achieve the distinctive style of Tango, it is important to develop controlled staccato footwork along with fluid graceful movements. The unique rhythm of the music is great training for timing and phrasing which develops as the dancer becomes more proficient. Tango practice is essential towards becoming a good dancer.


Fox Trot is a basic dance from which you can acquire a foundation. Learning to combine dance steps easily and smoothly teaches variety and maneuverability. The Fox Trot posture is attractive in appearance and helpful to all other dances. Being able to dance to slow, medium, and fast tempos will add confidence to your dancing and will assure fun and relaxation for your partner. The Fox Trot provides a good foundation for all dances and is often called the “get-acquainted” or “first impression” dance.


Waltz develops balance and control. The basic Waltz steps are the foundation patterns used in almost every partner dance. Correct posture, rise and fall, and flowing movements should be stressed to achieve good styling. The elegant sweeping movement of the Waltz gives dancers a chance to practice balance and to move lightly with ease.

Viennese Waltz

The Viennese Waltz is a rotary dance where the dancers are constantly turning either toward their right (natural) or toward their left (reverse), interspersed with non-rotating change steps to switch between the directions of rotation. A true Viennese waltz consists only of turns and change steps. More modern inventions include fleckerls, American-style figures and side sway or underarm turns.


Quickstep is the English version of the Fast Fox Trot, which has quick hopping steps set in with the smoother gliding figures. Unlike the modern Foxtrot, the man often closes his feet and syncopated steps are regular occurrences (as was the case in early Foxtrot). Three characteristic dance figures of the Quickstep are the chassés, where the feet are brought together, the quarter turns, and the lock step.

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