Thoughts on standard vs smooth choreography

The title might seem strange, since obviously, smooth and standard are very different styles, but my thoughts stem from the basic structure of the dances, when danced at a open level syllabus.

--- Standard ---
1) In standard it is common to have a pattern of moving diagonally into the center to halfway down a wall, and then diagonally to the wall into the corner.
2) Many dancers in standard enjoy going right to the very edge of the floor to show that they can take up as much space as possible. Many competitors even have choreography that is so long that basically they go down the long wall in the center, hit the end of the wall at almost the center of the short wall, then go against line of dance briefly to finishing their long wall into the corner.

??? Smooth ???

Do the poster's with the relavant experience here feel that smooth follows any of the points above for Standard?

1) Do most smooth competitors at an open level follow the "V" shape on a long wall, to move into the center for some fun lines, and then diagonal wall again?

2) Do smooth competitors go right to the edge of the floor? Or do they sort of make their routines a little smaller?

Your ponderings are appreciated :)


Well-Known Member
Hi DanceGeek, this upfront: I am not very familiar with american smooth.

But I fear, the different attitudes you mentioned are not due to any differences in these styles by itself but are due to the fact that different styles may attract different kinds of personalities.


Well-Known Member
Interesting observations. I've wondered myself how Standard/Smooth couples "strategize" their routines. Particularly in early rounds, you aren't guaranteed that favorite spot on the floor. And even if you choose what appears to be a good spot, some couples begin traveling the instant the music starts, and *blam* suddenly that extra space is gone and you find another couple in your back pocket. Or perhaps they develop their routines to maximize use of the floor, and then adjust the elements depending on where they find themselves as the music begins. For Open Smooth couples though, often it seems like they have dramatic swooshy openings that aren't a simple matter to chop apart on the fly.

Not having set routines myself, it generally comes down to "We're at this location, with this much room, so we can do step X. When we have more room, we can do step Y." Floorcraft, floorcraft, floorcraft. And a little bit of luck and guts.


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I try and set up our smooth routines so that we hit poses in the corners, whether they are open or closed, so we don't block traffic. I.e. pivot down the second half of the long side then do an open impetus ending into a chair and slip that stretches to the corner with the slip setting us up for the short side, or a butterfly with freespin across the short side that finishes with a change of place in the corner setting us up for a twinkle connection to start the long side.

Warren J. Dew

Well-Known Member
I think standard dancers drive into the corners for a couple of reasons. First, we generally like to move, and if we move more, we go deeper into corners. Second, the big competition is Blackpool, and if you don't drive into the corners on Blackpool's big floor, half the judges won't see you.

That said, in standard I tended to do my stationary lines in the center of the floor, out of other peoples' way. In smooth, I did more of the stationary or spot material in the corners.


Active Member
In my smooth I like to go right to the edge of the floor as well. My previous partner really liked to interact with the audience in some of the open positions and I felt like she would often be able to reach/touch spectators in the second or even third row in some extensions.

And yes, smooth will tend to follow the same "V" pattern as standard, at least as the framework around which the choreo is originally structured, even if you will see it diverge a bit more -- I feel your more likely to a pure linear along LoD section in smooth Waltz or Foxtrot that you would in standard. I do think you see less of the "back-tracking" against LoD in smooth than I have recently seen in standard (though I still see couples with new routines (both pro and amateur) who have significant counter LoD work -- seems to get taken out pretty quick once they realize in smooth if you're not progressing you're probably getting run-over.

And oppositely, smooth VW wll also tend to follow the "V" while it standard its more racetrack (unless fleckerls are involved)


Well-Known Member
We do tend to dance in and out towards the edge of the floor at points, although I don't really like doing it... a lot of the comps we go to either have spectators sitting right at the edge of the floor, or they have those temporary floors that have edges that are designed to trip you. :rolleyes:

The tendency I see around here, and our own routines do this, is almost the exact opposite of what the OP describes -- a lot of couples "diamond" the floor, staying well out of the corners. I think part of the reason for this is that it's difficult to make open work go around a sharp corner, e.g., you can make a face-to-face-back-to-back go around a gradual curve, but if you go into the corner with it there's no way you're going to keep it moving. Another reason is that, on a narrow enough floor, diamonding the ends using left/right turns more or less eliminates the short wall, which on a narrow floor is too short to do much of anything with. (All of this goes for waltz/VW/QS/foxtrot; tango is an entirely different deal.)

I do think you see less of the "back-tracking" against LoD in smooth than I have recently seen in standard (though I still see couples with new routines (both pro and amateur) who have significant counter LoD work -- seems to get taken out pretty quick once they realize in smooth if you're not progressing you're probably getting run-over.
Yep. :p The current style in smooth is move, move, move! Judges in the comps that we participate in usually frown on against-LOD steps; it's viewed as poor floorcraft.


Active Member
I'm a bit late on this...but, yes, when I was working on open smooth routines, we tried to take the action diagonally -- either into the middle and back out into a corner, or the reverse as someone else mentioned, moving in a diamond shape. Among other reasons, we were told by coaches that kind of movement, which takes you closer to and further from the judges who are standing along the edge, is going to look much more dynamic and be more notice-able than if you are to dance past the judges in a straight line.

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