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International Federation

World Para Dance Sport

World Para Dance Sport

Para dance sport explained

Para dance sport is an extremely elegant, graceful and stylish sport which involves athletes with a physical impairment that affects the lower limbs.


Participants can compete combi style, dancing with an able-bodied (standing) partner, or duo dance for two wheelchair users together. Group dance involves wheelchair users only or together with able-bodied partners whereas single dance sees a wheelchair user dance alone.

What do the different types of dancing mean?

Standard dances include waltz, tango, Viennese waltz, slow foxtrot and quickstep.

Latin American dances include the samba, cha-cha-cha, rumba, paso doble and jive.

Freestyle can include the standard dances (conventional) or any style for presentation (folk, hip hop, latin, standard, ballet, contemporary, street dance, salsa, Argentinean tango, cumbia, belly dance, etc.).

There are also Formation dances for four, six or eight couples dancing in formation.

From 1998 the sport was governed by the International Paralympic Committee and co-ordinated by the World Para Dance Sport Technical Committee which incorporated the rules of the World Dance Sport Federation (WDSF).

In 2024, governance of World Para Dance Sport was transferred to World Abilitysport.

The sport is not part of the summer Paralympic Games sports programme. World Para Dance Sport applied to have the sport included in the Paris 2024 Paralympic Games sport programme and progressed to Phase Two of the process but did not make it further. 

In recent years the sport has benefited greatly from the screening of popular dance-based TV shows such as Strictly Come Dancing and Dancing with the Stars.

What competitions are there?

World Para Dance Sport ensures that a World Championships are held every two years. The last edition was held in 2023 in Genoa, Italy.

European and Asian Championships are also part of the calendar, as well as other competitions, which ensure regular events are available each year.

What equipment do I need to host a competition or compete?

The surface of the dance floor must be a minimum of 250 square metres with no side of the floor less than 10m in length, and 350 square meters for Championships.

Participants have the option of using electric wheelchairs if they need to. Check out the rules of Para dance sport for more information

History

Wheelchair user Els-Britt Larsson was one of the pioneers of wheelchair dancing when it originated in her native Sweden in 1968 for recreational and rehabilitation purposes.

From there the sport’s popularity grew and in 1975 the first competition was organised in Vasteras, Sweden involving 30 couples.

Two years later in 1977, Sweden staged the first international competition and several regional and international competitions soon followed.

In 1984 Munich, Germany staged the first Rock’n’Roll European Championships for wheelchair dancers and the following year Netherlands hosted the first unofficial European Championships in Latin and standard.

The first World Championships took place in Japan in 1998, the same year the sport came under the governance and management of the International Paralympic Committee.

At the 2006 World Championships in Papendal, the Netherlands, duo-dance was presented for the first time in two standard and three Latin dances.

In 2014 singles and freestyle/showdance (singles and combi) were introduced as the part of the official programme.

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