/ by Maria Chitul, March 2007 / Maria is the owner of Ballroom Sparkle studio, offering custom made gowns for ballroom competitions and dance shows. Maria Chitul: “I know how important it is to feel relaxed and certain of your appearance when standing on the dance floor.”
If you are like me, you don’t pose too many requirements on a normal evening gown. The only important thing is that it has to look good on you and maybe shouldn’t fall off while you’re walking from your car to the party and back. You’re happy as long as the dress survives past one or two special occasions. You won’t wear it more often than that, anyway.
With competition dress it’s completely different. You spend a large sum of money on the dress to start with. You will be taking it to every competition, putting it on and taking it off hastily, jumping, sweating and wiping your make up with it. And you will still expect to use it at least for one season and to look gorgeous in it whenever you get on the dance floor. Buying a ballroom dress is an important step and you don’t want to make mistakes here.
The problem finding the right ballroom dress is that not only it has to look good on you while you are standing in front of the mirror, but also it should help you look great while you are actually dancing. It means that: a) The dress shouldn’t impede your movements during the dance; b) it should emphasize all your good sides: your dancing technique, your beautiful figure, and, whenever possible; c) it should conceal your bad sides, (if any) such as weak techniques or figure flaws.
Of course no dress in the world can substitute hard training. However, by knowing your technique flaws you can get a dress that will partly disguise them. As a result – you will improve the overall impression of your dancing performance. Try choosing the dress that does the opposite – and you’ll see the difference.
In this article I tried to summarise common technique flaws and my suggestions on how to conceal them with the help of a gown:
Weak hip movements is one of the usual problems among the dancers. This flaw can be easily solved by choosing an appropriate skirt. All you have to do is to say “no” to slinky skirts and choose fringe or flounce decorated skirts instead. An A-shaped skirt would create a nice waving impression around your hips/knees, improving the look of your hip movements. Another suggestion is to use some bright decorations on top, and thus drawing the audience’s attention from your bottom, however I’m not sure you can fool the judges with that!
Slouched spine. This is mostly the problem of standard dances, as you constantly have to keep your spine right. If this is your problem then try to hide your spine with chiffon scarves attached to your neck or shoulder. You may even use several of those, so that instead of frowning at your slouched spine, the judges would see nice “wings” floating behind you. For Latin dresses simply try to avoid gowns that expose mainly your back. In this case the attention is drawn to your spine automatically and this is not what you’d wish to do.
Weak frame. Do you keep letting the hands and elbows down in standard? Again, the trick is the same. Try to conceal this lack of technique by getting your hands covered with layers of flimsy/floating fabric or wide sleeves.
Protruding bottom. Another flaw that happens rather often in standard dances. In an effort of balancing your upper posture, smiling at the judges, and keeping in mind the dance steps you forget about the need to strain the bottom muscles and end up with your bottom stuck out backwards. If you are still working on this – don’t choose the mermaid-like silhouettes, or any skirts made from one heavy layer of fabric (like satin). Such skirts will bring attention to your bottom automatically so even a small mistake gets visible. Instead opt for multi-layered floating skirts that would smooth your curves and conceal the problem.
And the last piece of advice for today: If this is your first performance and your first dress – don’t leave it in the box until the day of the competition. Even if you felt great when trying the dress on and you are now afraid to stain it – test it together with your partner. You might discover that dancing feels different now that you are wearing the dress and that some steps or movements need adjustment. Again, for your first time – don’t choose skirts that are too long. If you don’t have enough experience you risk stepping on your own skirt during the competition. My suggestion is – choose a dress that has a skirt a bit above your ankles. For latin dresses – make sure you don’t wear long fringed or ripped skirts where you could get your hill entangled during the dance.
Summary: I believe that every girl can and should look best on her competition day. It’s a great experience and a huge incentive to move on. Even if you are not interested in professional dancing career, you should take competitions seriously – you will see the results for yourself. I hope that using the above suggestions, you can make the most of your assets and do your absolute best on this important day of your dancing life. (Note: It is illegal to reproduce this article without the expressed written consent from Maria Chitul & DanceWay.com Team)
The pictures for the article were provided by osinka.ru – a great resource for all interested in sewing and fashion. Ballroom Sparkle – Custom-made ballroom dresses at affordable prices. Original designs collection, free professional advice, articles about ballroom fashion and much more.