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College of Arts Humanities and Social Sciences, Lamont School of Music, Musicology and Ethnomusicology


Ballroom dance, Music, American smooth


American Smooth and Rhythm are the fastest growing styles of ballroom dance in America, and as new ideas for how to perform the dances flood the dance floor, so do new ideas for what music best expresses the character of the dance. The music of American Smooth is trending towards electronic forms of the tango and towards pop ballads in place of traditional Viennese Waltzes; meanwhile, the music of American Rhythm is trending away from its Cuban roots and towards hip hop. These innovations could potentially revitalize ballroom dance music for new audiences and also help dancers to reach a new height of expression by being able to better connect with the music. However, the dance community potentially risks losing some of the character that belongs to a dance by ignoring central aspects of the traditional music. Thinking about this will help to understand how the music adds to the character of the dance. After all, we know that music does more than solely keep time for dancers: otherwise, we would all just dance to a metronome.

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