There are two sanctioning dance organizations in the U.S. for DanceSport competitors.
Both require membership. USA Dance requires an annual DanceSport competitor membership, either as a student or adult category. NDCA requires to be registered.
USA Dance, is the US Amateur Ballroom Dance Association and sponsors amateur competitions and local chapter groups. In Europe, most competitors are amateur partners because of the cost and the proliferation of available partners.
Both groups have agreed to a common syllabus in closed dance events using the US IDSF syllabus.
NDCA also has its own syllabus list but sometimes the dance figure just has a different name, so the confusion begins.
NDCA is the sanctioning body for Professional Ballroom Dance Competitions in the United States. In addition to formulating the rules by which the NDCA recognition of
competitions and championships are granted, the NDCA has the exclusive right to select the Professional couples and judges who will represent the United States in all World
Professional Championships. The competition calendar of events is published bi-annually.
Each organization has similar age categories but with different names. USA Dance age category of 36-50 is called Senior 1 (S1) and NDCA calls it (A-2).
NDCA offers heats in the following categories pertain to Pro-Am and Amateur American Free Styles only:Pre-Bronze 1 through 5, Intermediate Bronze 1 through 8, Bronze 1 through 10. Some Pro/Am competitions will say, Beginner Bronze, Intermediate Bronze and Full Bronze. In order to save time, they may have dancers in all 3 Bronze categories dance during the same song. Why so many categories, because it provides a way for the instructor to dance in different categories and the student pays but should win in one of them eventually.
USA DANCE has Newcomer Bronze and Full Bronze, very defined and precise. Newcomer usually pertains to the first 4 figures of each syllabus, enough to get you around the floor and be judged on technique. With this simple system, a Bronze dancer can dance in this category and usually have about 10 to 18 couples to compete producing a better ranking of where you are in proficiency.
When it states, “No continuity style in Bronze”, this means no passing of the feet that is usually in a Silver syllabus for Standard dances. Even in Bronze Latin Cha Cha, the man can use a slip chasse. These rules are insure fairness for the Bronze level dancer to show timing and technique and not some creative routine.
Both groups keep the formal syllabus steps in place:
* Bronze - Restricted to Bronze Syllabus
* Silver - Restricted to Bronze & Silver Syllabus
* Gold - Restricted to Bronze, Silver & Gold Syllabus
The most confusing level is Novice because most Americans think this means a beginner level when in fact it means above Gold and any Open routine. Bronze to Gold can dance an Open routine.