Just like everyday fashions, ballroom dancing fashions have traveled through eras of time and changed along the way. A lot of changes helped to evolve today’s look.
When a ballroom dance couple glides across the floor and they are all put together, most spectators have no idea what has gone into creating that image.
From the hair, to the makeup, to the costumes, to the shoes, every detail has been attended to. There is so much that people don’t realize goes into the look. Let me take you through the process.
Ballroom dance is a sport that is built not just on technical elements, but on an overall look – it must be visually exciting and eye catching. It starts with the hair.
The hair is probably the most intricate part of the look – and this goes for both males and females. Hairspray is a mainstay of ballroom dance.
The next important step is makeup, which is highly exaggerated and pronounced. False eyelashes are a must!
From here the costume takes center stage because that is mostly what the audience notices. The costumes have gone through so many changes through the years. They went from short and puffy layered skirts for the ladies, to longer and feathery dresses. Now, the trend is simpler with lots and lots of sparkle.
The guys’ costumes have changed as well, from a one-piece, tight jumpsuit to a modern outfit of boot-cut dress pants and slim-fitting open shirts with lots of crystals.
Ladies’ shoes started with lower heels and a closed toe, and over the years became very high, very flexible and open-toed. The guys’ shoes developed into a higher – or Cuban – heel to create a Latin look.
Now that the look is complete, how functional is it? Is the hair going to stay in place when the lady is dipped down to floor? Will the dress stay intact while spinning and moving fast?
Are the earrings going to stay on? Will the guys’ shirts stay tucked in while lifting the ladies? Will jewelry get caught in your partner’s costume?
There are lots of tricks of the trade that I will reveal another time that help to prevent these mishaps, but they still can happen. That is how you know if someone is a true pro – the audience will never know that there has been a costume malfunction!
Sandro Virag is a partner and instructor at Hilton Head Ballroom Dance Studio of Hilton Head, located in Bluffton at Seaquins Ballroom.