From your coach. Yes to both! There are a lot of commonly used non-Syllabus patterns that are sometimes called "named variations." I don't think so--it's definitely a lot for a newbie to take in and understand. And we're happy to answer your questions! These levels are for Pro/Am Syllabus-level dancers who want to start using steps that are above their Syllabus level for that dance, or even not on the Syllabus at all for that dance. Say, for instance, you were at Bronze, and you wanted to learn and use in competition some cool move that was either Silver or Gold or even outside of the Syllabus. You couldn't use that in a regular Pro/Am Bronze-level event, but you could dance it in a Pro/Am Open Bronze event. That depends on what you, your partner, and your coach decide. Obviously if you were just to take your Closed Gold routines and teach them to your Amateur partner and enter an Amateur competition, you would have to enter Gold Syllabus and/or Novice, because you can't dance Gold steps in a level below Gold. However, perhaps you and your partner and your coach would prefer you to "back up" a bit and work on fundamentals. It really all depends, but in the US you can start wherever you like, so long as you don't choose a proficiency level (i.e., Bronze, Silver, Gold, Novice, etc.) that you have already become ineligible for by earning too many points in. If you've never competed in Amateur events, then you won't have this issue, as you have zero points in any and all levels.