The Fascinating World of American Smooth

Published in  
February 14, 2020
Two souls move as one, creating space, shape, and color under the caressing sounds of the Waltz - a captivating experience. Every inch of body fulfills a dimension, seemingly like magic; every gesture suggests mystery, every look- intention.

Dancing the American Smooth is like taking on a fascinating journey through the realms of Ballroom Dance. Two souls moving as one, creating space, shape, and color under the caressing sounds of the Waltz - a captivating experience. Every inch of the body fulfills a dimension, seemingly like magic; every gesture suggests mystery, every look- intention. Drawing the audience in is an easy task- no expert eye is needed. The hypnotizing siren-like piece of art has spoken.

World American Smooth Champions- Nick Cheremukhin and Viktorija

What is American Smooth?

For one- brilliant! Smooth is the creation of space through structured and lyrical yet strong movement across the dance floor with another human being. The flavor combinations of those movements- virtually inexhaustible.  How interesting is that?

Many refer to this flavor of Ballroom as the equivalent of the International Standard. Some even call it the American Style Ballroom. I can see why it might look similar, but that does do it justice- it is much more than that. It is swift and serene magnificence as Rita Dove put it beautifully in her poem.

I didn’t notice
how still you’d become until
we had done it
(for two measures?
four?)—achieved flight,
that swift and serene
before the earth
remembered who we were
and brought us down. 
-Rita Dove

Travis and Jamie Tuft

The DNA of Smooth is a rather complex helix. In the base of it lies the structure of International Standard including the hold, body and foot positions. After we scratched the surface and defined the movement principles, the style adds its own body positions which are unique and not used in Standard for example. Now, time to sprinkle some more flavor.

Its development has been influenced by other styles and forms of dance such as Latin- American, Ballet, Modern, Cabaret, Jazz, Contemporary. One example of ballet influence in the Smooth is the frequent use of the Arabesque or Attitude lines to create beautiful pictures.

For me, one of the most empowering aspects of American Smooth is the structured freedom that it provides to create musicality. Dancers are given royalty to express themselves freely and produce many body rhythms making their bodies an extension of the musician.

The American Smooth Dances

The magic in this beautiful style happens in four stages. Starting with the classical Waltz, moving onto a passionate Tango and Jazzy Foxtrot to finish off with the culmination- the enthralling Viennese Waltz.


Waltz music, with its gentle tunes, guide the movement across the floor, up and down. Horizontal and vertical rotations with changing speeds throw the dancers into an unusual, exciting vortex. The Waltz feels like a sophisticated and well-maintained watch.


Drama. In complete contrast to the Waltz, the Tango music sets the stage for sudden, sharp, and thrilling movements while incorporating some elements like body shapes, arm, and wrist articulations from the Paso Doble and the Flamenco. Precision and focus should be at the forefront of the dancer's attention.


Perhaps the first thing that pops into your mind - Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. And you are absolutely right! Two bodies move, first so smooth, then brisk; jazzy, cheeky, and sometimes almost burlesque ish. So much color everywhere, it is- FUN!

Vienesse Waltz

The faster version of the traditional three quarter timing dance sets the stage for an exciting, heart-pounding experience of slow, then quick, some sudden but always gentle swinging actions performed by the dancers, while maintaining perfect connection and elegant posture.

In the video below you can see a beautiful representation of the Smooth style at Ohio Star Ball.

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What can you do with Smooth?

Hopefully, by now, you are interested in this fantastic style of Ballroom dance. Whether you are a Professional or Amateur dancer, Pro-am student or social dancer, the possibilities for you, if you pick up Smooth, are many.

Explore your body

Dance, by default, is a body exploration endeavor.  The richness of material, such as turning, gliding across the floor, partnered lines, character enhancing actions, test the body to its limits. Even if Smooth is not your primary dance style, you can use it as a training tool to develop, strength, agility, and coordination.


If you are hooked and you want to pick it up, but you want to challenge yourself and compete- there is plenty of opportunity for that. The National Dance Council of American has sanctioned events every weekend, and in all of those, you can find an American Smooth category.

We have National Championships for both Professional and Amateur as well as World Professional American Smooth Championships, which is held in Irvine, CA. About three years ago, the iconic Blackpool Dance Festival decided to include Pro-Am and Professional Open American Smooth in their program. Great success and recognition of this fantastic style.


Showy character and abundance of impressive tricks make the style perfect for a showcase. The release of the hold gives great expression freedom to the dancers, which they can use to choreograph easily to the song of their choice and make an impactful for the audience performance.

For the International Standard dancers, this is a perfect opportunity to spice up their dances with a little more character to break up the seriousness of the conventional ballroom style.

Work on Creativity

Feeling stuck in your dancing? Have you been doing International style for a while and lacking that bit of inspiration kick to keep things improving? Try different things! Some of the partnered moves from the Theater Arts dances style used in Smooth can really spark the creativity in you. All of us have it! We just need the right boost.

Wrapping it up!

If you are thinking about giving American Smooth a try, don’t! Please do it! You will love yourself for it! You will invest in your creativity, flexibility, and love for dance. The unique art that this style of dance brings new life and dimension to the elements of dance we all know so well- music, shape, movement, partnering.

Disclaimer: All photography copyrights belong to their rightful owners. Please feel free to contact me for credit.

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