Ballroom vs. Ballet

In an effort to improve my true love, standard, I took a ballet class the other day, and want to share my reflections. One key difference that stood out between ballroom and the other forms: the partner.

Ballet is centered on the dancer. There is choreography, but ultimately it is focused on the person. At its highest level, imagine Baryshnikov floating across the floor; or Anna Pavlova performing dying swan. This is the pinnacle of the art. It is a more individualistic art form. In contrast, ballroom is centered on the couple. Even at a comp, the emcee will announce "couples take the floor."

Some say that ballet is considered by some to be the most refined form of movement; the pinnacle of dance. From the perspective of the dancer, it definitely requires a high level of conditioning, including strength, endurance, and flexibility. I must admit that the technical skill required in ballet appears to exceed that of ballroom. I could try to argue that the technique in standard and latin is equal, or even superior, but it is a tough argument.

One thing I do not like is pointe. My friend's cousin just developed a degenerative disorder from ballet. She was at a very high level, and used to tie her shoes so tightly that she couldn't feel her feet. She may lose the ability to walk, and she is in her 30's.

Although I can see how some would love ballet, the lack of a partner was a real turn-off for me. There is no connection, no lead/follow, etc. An entire dimension of dance is missing. They say that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. In my eyes, there is more beauty in Mirko Gozzoli and Alessia Betti performing a waltz than a Baryshnikov solo.
One of my coaches was trained in ballet when she was younger. She's given me several ballet exercises to help in my conditioning for latin and standard. It actually works really well.

Still trying to build strength in my feet and ankles...


Well-Known Member
In my eyes, there is more beauty in Mirko Gozzoli and Alessia Betti performing a waltz than a Baryshnikov solo.

ooooooo... nothing against Gozzoli and Betti, but Baryshnikov is a god.... Gozzoli and Betti are wonderful in their own right however..

I don't think you can compare the two.. ballroom has the competitive aspect, whereas ballet is all about the art.. Ballet uses the muscles so differently than ballroom, and it is much much harder on the body. As you said, the two styles are completely different, and I would have difficulty saying that one has more "soul" than the other. It's like watching a tap routine and comparing it to irish step dancing or something... they are similar in some respects but totally unique. I get chills from watching ballets and I am sometimes bored at Ballroom comps.. and vise versa..

Side note, Baryshnikov I could watch dancing all day... he is soooo amazing!!! *drools*

Though, as everyone on this forum knows, the dancer that holds the most special spot in my heart is Slavik LOLOLOLOL!!!!!
I do ballet, as a way to cross train... it really helps Latin and Ballroom dancers!
You get stronger core, ankles, back, legs...
Before ballet, I couldn't even point! Now my feet are one of my best assets...

Ballet is very disciplined, in the way that you need to do basic exercises everyday to develop your dancing. In Latin, many people aren't as disciplined to work on the basic exercises day in and day out.

I would disagree that in ballet there is no couple work... It just comes much later. When the dancers are ready! It makes a lot of sense.... if you can't be on your balance, then you probably need to work on yourself before dancing with a partner. Right?


Well-Known Member
Each art form is unique...I try to enjoy each for it's own form and beauty.

I have done both partner and solo dancing, and each has it's place in my heart.
One thing that very much confuses me is why Ballroom is not part of many collegiate dance programs. I haven't done extensive research, but did check the M.F.A. programs at Harvard, NYU, and Rutgers.

None of them even mention ballroom as part of their curricula.


Well-Known Member
I've seen Mikail Barishnikov live and he is just incredibly fantastic. He jumps so high it looks like he hovers in the air.

My first love was ballet - OMG I am surprised I had to use the past tense! I love ballroom more now. But I still believe ballet is helpful for ballroom. Just look at Miss Melissa on DWTS! Two days and she looked great with her graceful arms
lovely develope and pointed toes.
i am classically trained in ballet and pointe before i started ballroom
and i must say it has made my latin and standard a lot better.
the muscle strength and the elongating of the muscles in ballet has made my ballroom dancing improve so much. however, i enjoy ballroom much more than i like ballet.

agree with most of you about baryshnikov, amazing dancer
but i must say
balanchine's style is one of a kind.

Warren J. Dew

Well-Known Member
nothing against Gozzoli and Betti, but Baryshnikov is a god....
To be fair, many people think Baryshnikov was the best male ballet dancer of all time, while Gozzoli and Betti are merely the current world champions.

Naming a best of all time male dancer in ballroom might be difficult, but one could certainly argue for Donnie Burns in latin. Baryshnikov may have been more athletic in the legs, but I think Burns had better musicality and arm styling, and a stronger stage presence.


New Member
Agree with Nonie on not being able to compare the two seperately. Ballet is the foundation of all dances, whether it's agreed or disagreed, it is what it is. I'm happy to hear Ballet is helping many of you. Classical training is probably the main reason why I was able to advance quicker than the norm. Although, I do carry with me few bad habits, which are almost at its breaking point.. However, I'm grateful for the skills I've acquired from Ballet (well, Lyrical and Jazz too!) Sometimes, I'll add barre exercises as my warm-up, followed by rumba walks and cucarachas.

Angel HI

Well-Known Member
Many here know how I feel about ballet. I will agree w/ those posters who have said that it definitely trains the body to be a stronger instrument for dance in general. It is for this that it helps BR. Yet, it often uses a different group of muscles, resultign in things that are detrimental to BR/latin, and should be integrated w/ care.
One thing that very much confuses me is why Ballroom is not part of many collegiate dance programs.
There ae currently approx. 350 schools (elem - univ) in the US that have BR for credit programs. I agree that this number should be higher, and that it is relatively small makes those schools that do difficult to find. USADance is one resource for listings.


New Member
I agree that while just as technical as ballet, ballroom is not as physically demanding. I miss the extra degrees of freedom allowed by ballet: freedom to leap, freedom to do fouette turns en pointe, freedom to portray any abstract idea or emotion. As a partner dance, ballroom always focuses on the relationship between two people. Though some of the most deeply felt emotions are best expressed through the portrayal of partner relationships, some ideas are better expressed through an individual or through a group of dancers.

By limiting the degrees of freedom that each individual dancer in a ballroom partnership uses, however, ballroom choreography portrays couple relationships more intensely than most ballet choreography can. It is generally easier for the layperson to identify with the movements of a ballroom dancer than with the lifts, extreme lines, and surrreal balances of partnered ballet dancing. And with the focus being on the connection between partners, ballroom dancers are capable of creating more impressive pictures with less effort than an individual dancer could do.

As a student, I miss the structure of ballet classes. They really do do a fantastic job building fundamental technique. However, I really don't see any reason why ballroom couldn't adopt a similar regimen for its lessons. We usually skip right to the finished product or work on very basic exercises that don't resemble dance at all. Most other forms of dance work on a variety of 'combinations' in each class, working gradually from simple movements to more strenuous movements.

On the other hand, I love working with a partner. We help each other, push each other to new levels, and inspire each other to master technique that we could not have fretted over if we were dancing alone.


Well-Known Member
I do think that ballet is the root of all dances... however, basically any movement training will help you in dance... whether you did jazz, gymnastics, figure skating... it does put you ahead of the rest of the crowd when learning ballroom... however, people with ballet training usually have the BEST extensions in their legs and feet... like Yulia... wowzers!!!!


Staff member
I think that the benefits of ballet are often exaggerated and can make the average person feel as though they will never be able to dance simply because they didn't do ballet.
I do agree that any training that puts you in touch with how your body moves will have its benefits. My partner did tai kwon do for many years (as well as breakdancing:p) and this has helped him in his ballroom dancing.


New Member
Ballet is the best training to develop beautiful lines and extensions.
But modern dance is the best training for personal expression through spinal movement.
I think Latin is best for developing your connection with the floor.
And no one can have a beautiful frame without training in standard.
Others could probably list the unique benefits of training in other forms of dance/movement; these are just the disciplines I have the most experience in.

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