According to Wikipedia DanceSport means "competitive ballroom dancing",as contrasted to social or exhibition dancing. Dancesport events are sanctioned and regulated by dancesport organizations at the national and international level, such as the World Dance Council. The physical demand of dancesport is equally as high in comparison to other sporting activities such as basketball or cross-country running. Ballroom dancing requires a cardiovascular system to be able to work at a high energy level in order to match the given physiological strain.
There are a wide variety of dance competitions. They range from the well known Blackpool Dance Festival, an event open to all, to competitions conducted exclusively for university students.
The World Dance Council (WDC) rules for international competitions are lengthy and detailed.[16The music for competitions is kept confidential until the event. The music always follows a strict tempo and, for a couples competition, it will have a duration of no less than 90 seconds, and no more than two minutes.
Some elementary competitions are restricted to "basic" steps, but international competitions are open as to choreography, within the limits of the traditional style of the individual dances. Only the Viennese waltz has defined choreography: it is limited to seven well-specified figures. Lifts are not permitted, except for Show Dance titles. The tempo for each dance is defined. In the finals, couples are marked under the skating system and judged by timing, footwork, rise and fall, alignment, direction and floor craft. Competitors must meet World Anti-Doping Agency rules.
What is Syllabus?
In DanceSport we have books with diagrams of steps, timings and recommended patterns for all 19 dances (10 for International program and 9 for American style)- the “syllable”. Each dance has about 30 steps. They are divided into 3 groups based on the level of advancement: Bronze, Silver and Gold. When dancers are competing in Syllabus groups, they can only dance steps from those books: in Newcomer trough Bronze groups, only Bronze movements are allowed. In Silver, only Bronze and Silver movements are allowed, in Gold you can dance all of them.
Now to what is called “Open” groups:
Use of any movement is allowed. It’s called “open choreography”. Unless you dance in preteen. Then you can only dance choreography "up to gold" even if you are dancing Championship category.
What is the difference between the “elite” and “school” leagues?
Well, first of all, official competitions that give you national and world titles are only organized at the elite level. In other words, you can only call yourself a champion if you won a championship level event. You cannot be considered a champion if you win a BYU High School Syllabus in Provo, UT, that is organized at the same time with National championships. Although to win out of 200 couples is still a great achievement.
For a dancer to have a more or less stable career in dance at elite level, it is essential to start dancing at the early age and to finish syllabus with some significant national (possibly international) results or at least experience by the age of 11.5. So, it should be a goal for any preteen competitor to reach real championship level by the age of 12.
If for some reason a dancer started dancing later in life, but really wants to be at the elite level, it is still possible, but can be compared to the the child who started school at the age of 12 instead of 6. That way they have to go through much more material in a very short time, so it’s a bit harder.
You and your dancer can also be totally fine with the pase of school league. And that’s fine too! It’s up to our families to choose how much time and other efforts they have the ability to invest.
The following video material is nicely representing both leagues:
School league juniors (12-15)
School league youth (16-18)
Elite league pre-teen (10-11)
Elite league junior 2 (14-15)
Elite league junior 1 (12-13)
Elite league youth (16-18)