Saturday, September 1, 2012

Sneak Preview into a Ballroom Competition....

I don't have all of my competition photos yet, but I do have a sneak preview! I'm going to take you on a journey of Pro-Am competition day.....

Preparation for competition begins about a week before.

I like to pack my bag several days in advance.  I pack everything I need for a comp into one small wheeled suitcase.  Believe it or not...I even roll up my dress, put it a garment bag and pack it.  I used to take two to three bags but I have pared this down to the necessities; I like to travel light! 

I always make lists and notes to remind me not to forget anything.

I'm up at 5 a.m. on competition day to put on makeup.  I'm very tired because I didn't fall asleep until 12:30.  It shows in my face!

I picked up a dancer friend to ride up with me and we arrived at the hotel at 9:30.

They Hyatt Regency McCormick Place.

Before reaching the registration desk, there is a photograph viewing station.  Professional photographers take action shots during the comp and we can view them and purchase them here.  They are very expensive!  I usually don't purchase unless there is a really good photo that I just can't pass up.  I have a couple dance friends that also take quality photos and sell them much cheaper.

The registration desk.  We sign in and get our event tickets.

Approaching the ballroom area, you will begin to see the first glimpses of ballroom activity...dancers practicing and warming up in every little nook.  Its not easy to practice on carpet!! The energy in the air is starting to build and you can hear the muffled sounds of dance music and the master of ceremonies announcing events......

Getting closer!

So many vendors!  So much sparkle and bling approaching....

The excitement begins for me when I get my first peek at the dresses!

But I can't look yet, because I have to rush to the hairdresser on the 26th floor and get my hair done!  One day I'm going to learn to do my own hair; its so stressful to depend on someone else to do your hair and get you ready in time.  Its also very expensive.

A quick snap of my ballroom face....Yikes!

I meet Marcel in the ballroom and let him know I'm here and ready.  We have some time before we dance......

so I go peek at the dresses!

and more dresses!  These dresses belong to my favorite dress designer Izabela Jaworska.  Her designs are beautiful, classic and sophisticated.  I also appreciate the quality of workmanship.  I have compared the workmanship to other dresses from the top designers and find Izabela's to be of greater quality; tight, even stitching, finished interior seams with no raw, open edges (yes, some high end designers will have raw edges on the interior seams!) and durable findings.  I now have two dresses from Izabela; I'm a devoted customer.

Another vendor with dance clothing for men.
 Since I don't have time to really look and try things on, I hurry back to the dance floor to watch the other 'heats'  before dancing.

Clusters of dances (usually three to five dances) are called heats; for example, I danced in heats 191, 198 and 309.  Each heat consisted of five dances in a particular age group and dance level.  There are three levels of dance; bronze, silver and gold and several sub-levels within each level; newcomer, pre-bronze, beginning bronze, intermediate bronze, full bronze and open bronze.  The levels are constructed the same way in the silver and gold categories.  Gold is the top level, dancers with 10 years or more of experience and most teachers(but not all) are gold level.  It takes a long time to get to the gold level.  I dance in the full and open bronze levels and will likely move to silver next year.

Our table was right next to the judges (who are on the outer perimeters of the dance floor) and the on-deck (waiting to dance) area.  This lady, Lorraine Barry (formerly Barrichi) is my dance inspiration.  In a previous post I told you that she would be judging and she was on one of my judging panels earlier in the day (when I was dancing well!).  It was really cool to see her in person; I have admired her dancing for years and she is the inspiration for my love of International Standard.  She appears to be so nice, graceful and elegant.  She is flanked by two other judges and it was fun to be sitting so close, watching them judge, watching them bounce around to the music and interact with one another.

Watching some of the other dancers while waiting at the table.

I don't have pictures of my dances yet.....but I will post them as I do receive them.  After watching the dancers, I participated in my early dances at this point.

I did...OK.  Not my best, but OK.  I placed 2nd in most categories and I'm ok with that, but I know I need to work harder to improve my shortcomings.  I know that I'm a good dancer and have a very good top line and posture, but I need to work on some points in my movement to get bigger strides.  Marcel tells me that once I get comfortable with making bigger strides, not one will be able to beat me......

After my early dances, I had a six hour break, so I got to have some fun!  
Time to play with the dresses!  I went to this comp with the intent to buy a new dress.  I know Izabela was going to be there and I knew I wanted another dress from her.  I did look at the other two vendors and they had some very pretty dresses, but an Izabela dress won my heart again.

I couldn't take pictures if the dresses I tried on.  Designers are understandably protective of their designs.   I tried on about 10 different dresses until I found the one.  I knew it the minute I put it on.  It looked good, it felt was THE one.

A quick pic in the bathroom make sure that the image I liked in the mirror was an accurate one.  I fell in love.  My dress.

I decided to wear my new dress in the scholarship dances in the evening.

Passing time, waiting to dance in my new dress.

Poufy, flouncy, vanilla goodness....

I love the colors and the intricate stoning on the   gauntlets and bodice.

I had a good time at this competition, but honestly it was not my best dancing.  I wasn't bad...just not my best.  I competed in the scholarship event in the evening and I did make the finals.  Making the finals means that I danced fairly well in the semi-final round.  It was huge category so I felt good about being recalled, but in the final, I did not place in the top there was no money for me.  I know what I need to work on and I'm going to work hard to fix the things in my dance that need to be fixed.

On a side note.....I thought it was funny that all of the finalists, except for me were wearing blue dresses!  Blue seems to be the color of the year!

I love competing.  There is fun, stress, hard work, glitz, bling, sparkle, energy and excitement, stress, stress and more stress....but also the pride and pleasure of dancing well.  I will dance and compete as long as I can stand up on my own two feet.

I will post dance pictures as soon as I get them.  Tonight I will be returning to the competition as a spectator. There will be a feature performance by Yulia and Latin dance title holders.  It's going to be a fun, exciting, glamorous evening. I can't wait to share the photos with you!


  1. Second in most categories is pretty damn good if you ask me! Your dress is so pretty! And love seeing all those sparkly colourful costumes lined up on the rail.
    Can't wait to see the competition photos.

    I'm having a swimwear/lingerie giveaway on my blog if you are interested!

    1. I'm going to pop over to your blog in a couple of minutes. Thanks for the compliment. I'm very pleased with my new dress.

  2. You placed 2nd? That is fabulous and I am totally impressed. This was such a fun post...I could almost feel the energy. I would LOVE to see one of these competitions some day. Can't wait to see more pictures!

    1. You should absolutely try to go see one..but I will warn you; it's intoxicating and you will probably want to give it a try.

  3. Well done - sounds like you did a good job and had a lot of fun and the dresses...oh my!! Just stunning! Xx

    1. The dress are half the fun! Of course it is about the dancing, but the dresses will make any girl sparkle, sequin, bling loving girl giddy!!

  4. That was a very interesting sneak peek into this foreign land of dance competition! :) I love the dresses and the whole elegant air of everything. I like your attitude about what to fix. I'm the same way.

  5. That was a wonderful photographic walk through your competition .. thanks for sharing, I loved it.

    Always good to learn from getting out there and doing it. I had another learning day yesterday with the shoot I did. Getting better each time and know where I need to improve and got some more ideas of what to do and how to light the subject. Lovin' it.

    Hope the rest of your weekend is awesome.

    1. No matter what we do there is always room to improve! I like to take every experience and learn from it!

  6. I have thoroughly enjoyed reading this behind the scenes account. It does seem so much hard work but yu look absolutely stunning.

    1. Thank you. It is hard work, but very worth it because I love it so much.

  7. It was fun to walk through a day of competition with you. I wonder if you get butterflies before you do out on the dance floor. I love the new dress and it is interesting to read your own critique of your dance.

    1. Terri, I really don't get butterflies anymore. I used to, but not so much since I've been dancing with Marcel. I think that he is such a good instructor and has given me such good skills to fall back on that I do feel pretty confident. I also used to competing I really feel pretty calm and collected.

  8. Love your dress - it is like a dream! They say that dance might decrease your risk of dementia as you get both cognitive and physical exercise as well as social interaction. So keep on dancing!

    1. I have heard those theories too and I would like to agree! When you have a chance, take a peek at my newest post; look at the very end; I'm sure, as a gerontologist, you will enjoy it!

  9. Your dress is AMAZING. I hope you were able to take some more detailed shots. You look beautiful. Congrats on placing 2nd!! I'm just a tiny bit confused...did you get your dress on the day of the competition? That's fantastic that it was a perfect fit for you.

    1. Joanna, I did my dress on comp day. There are always dress vendors at the comps. I wore my pale green and yellow dress for my dances in the morning and then shopped for another dress. I had a small dress budget and I told myself that if I found one that fit my budget and fit me (needing no alterations) I would get it. I got lucky...I found 'the one'! I was so happy to wear it the evening competition!!!

      Thank you for the compliment!

  10. Congratulations on your placing 2nd(s)! That is just awesome, Lisa.

    Your new dress is divine! Wow!

    1. Thank you! I am in love with this dress. My favorite of the three. Dresses are half the fun. One day, I'm going to do a post on the differences between evening gowns and ballroom gowns.


"When you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect"--Mark Twain