Your Guide To Ballroom Dancing
Ballroom dancing as a hobby has exploded in popularity, mainly due to
the phenomenal success of BBC1’s “Strictly Come Dancing”. Hordes of
little girls (and boys!) are signing up at their local classes, after watching
their heroes master the art of the dance floor. However, we all know –
there is more to dance than learning the steps, and as a relatively seasoned
dancing “mum”, I was surprised at just how little information and
assistance there is out there for us!
This book is an attempt to give parents of new dancers a bit of guidance
in all matters regarding their daughters new hobby and I hope you find it
interesting, informative and entertaining.
Ballroom Dancing consists of several different partner dances and is
divided into two categories. The first category is called the standard or
“modern” group and includes the foxtrot, waltz, tango, quickstep. This
category is what most people think of when they hear "ballroom
dancing." The second category is called the Latin group and includes the
rumba, cha cha, mambo, and samba. Each of these dances has many
different patterns with several variations to each pattern. In order to
dance these patterns comfortably, several elements of Ballroom technique
need to be learned. These elements include correct timing, clean
footwork, and correct lead and follow created by a good dance position.
Technique and Style
In order to develop the correct technique and have clean footwork in
ballroom dancing, it is important to understand the difference between the
moving foot and the standing foot. The moving foot is the foot that you
are transferring your weight onto, regardless of how big or small the step
is, and the standing foot is the foot that is supporting your weight while
you are in the process of taking a step. When taking any step in Ballroom
Dancing, you want to use the supporting foot to push your self onto the
moving foot. This should happen for all the patterns that you dance.
Ballroom dances are mostly danced in a closed dance position. The
correct dance position is very important to help both partners dance more
comfortably together. A good dance position helps the man to lead his
partner and helps the lady feel the lead. It will help the couple dance
together and the dance will begin to flow. To get a good dance position,
the man should place his right hand against the lower part of the woman's
left shoulder blade. The man should put some pressure with his right
hand against her shoulder blade and the woman should rest her shoulder
blade into the man's hand. This will create a good connection.
The lady should rest her left arm on the man's right arm with her left hand
on the man's right upper arm. The lady's left arm and the man's right arm
should remain connected and in contact throughout the dance.
Sometimes the man drops his elbow or the lady will raise her elbow and
this will break the connection and make it hard to lead and follow. The
palm of the man's left hand and the palm of the woman's right hand will
connect with slight pressure towards each other and be held
approximately at eye level. The woman will stand slightly to the man's
right side and should remain there throughout the dance.
Overview of Different Dances
This will most likely be the first thing your daughter attempts. Waltz is a
progressive dance (anticlockwise around the floor), danced to 3 beats to a
bar, and is danced in “hold” with your partner
The waltz is one of the most popular dances the world over, and as it is a
lovely romantic dance, it is often the one chosen for a bride and groom as
their first dance, or indeed for a dad with his newly married daughter.
The basic steps consist of walking steps and side steps. A lot of the grace
and elegance of waltzing is obtained by what is called “rise and fall”.
This is obtained by pushing slightly down through the ball of the foot and
then rising on the toes. Its effect makes the dancers look like they are
gliding around the floor in a gentle wave. It sounds complicated – it
isn’t! As with maintaining a proper “hold”, good rise and fall will make
your kids look better than they might actually be, so it is worth paying
A lively, fun and flirty dance with lots of twists, spins, and exaggerated
arm movements! Originating from Cuba, it is related to similar Latin
dances such as mambo and rumba. Lots of chart music is based on this
Latin rhythm and as such its crossover into daily life is quite striking!
Along with the rumba and mambo, the cha cha developed in Haiti and in
Cuba and migrated to the United States in the 1950s. These rhythms are
closely related, as we can think of the mambo as a fast rumba and the cha
cha as a triple mambo. These three rhythms have many figures in
common. The cha cha is a popular Latin rhythm that is danced with a
loose hold and with smooth, flowing movements. The tempo of cha cha is
about the same as that of rumba, but we are fitting five steps into a
measure instead of only three in rumba, so cha cha feels a good bit faster.
Where the rumba is danced quick, quick, slow; the cha cha is danced
quick, quick, quick/and, quick; or 1, 2, cha/cha, cha; In good cha cha
music, you can hear the "cha-cha-cha."
Most steps are taken ball-flat, although the quickest steps might be taken
ball only. Step with the left, press into that step without weight, straighten
the left knee and smoothly roll your weight onto the left leg, and bend the
right knee. This will move the left hip to the side and back. Again, step
forward with a ball/flat/straighten/hip, and back ball/flat/straighten/hip to
get the rhythmic and rolling Cuban or Latin hip action. Use the inside
edge of the ball of your foot and big toe, and this will move the non-
supporting knee in front of the supporting knee and add even more to the
Cuban hip, but don't exaggerate. Don't "wiggle your hips." The hip
movement is not independent but comes from the feet and knees. The
whole body is flowing with the music.
This American dance originated from New York, and is influenced by
rock & roll and lindy hop. The fastest of the Latin dances, there is again
lots of spins, kicks and flicks and lots of hip action! However, what is
particularly important in jive, are the knees!
Stylistically, Jive is danced in an upright stance. The upper body stays as
still as possible (except for the arms) and the head stays level. This has a
tendency to make the dance look "bouncy" but also somewhat stiff and
formal. The hips absorb a lot of the momentum in Jive, also adding to the
stiff and bouncy look. In Jive, the rock step is a "Latin" style rock step,
with the initial touch on the toe of the foot and then a roll onto the heel.
This gives the continuous motion that is typical of "Latin" style dancing.
A light, springy and extremely fast paced dance, the quickstep contains
lots of tricky steps and is quite tough to master. This dance is misleading
– it is very physically demanding and not for the fainthearted!
The steps are danced as slow, slow, quick, quick, slow …………. Slow
on the heel, quick on the toe… a quickstep has an up and down swing
motion, the rise and fall motion must be done at a fast pace.
One could argue that quickstep is the most fun of all the rhythms (or the
most devilish). It formed in the 1920s out of a marching one-step, a fast
foxtrot, and some of the jazzy hops and skips of the Charleston, and it has
evolved into a very up, light, airy, skipping sort of a dance. However, this
is not the easy skipping of a child down the sidewalk. The quickstep is
the skipping of a flat stone across a pond, especially at the end of the
throw, where the skips are short and fast: bip-bip-bip-bip. Stay level.
Don't slide the balls of your feet across the floor, but lift each foot and
The two features that make quickstep such an interesting rhythm also
make it difficult at first. These are the fast tempo and the almost perverse,
ever changing combinations of quicks and slows . There is a general rule
that can help you decide which steps should be slow and which should be
quick — usually, forward and back steps are slow and closing or locking
steps are quick. Dance the quickstep with a walking heel lead that puts
you on the balls of your feet, and then stay up and in flight.
This dance comes from Argentina, and is in stark contrast to the other
dances in that it is stiff, with lots of sharp sudden movements. The
dancers should have slightly bent knees to signify the gaucho in his stiff
leather trousers. He would probably smell quite a bit, hence the lady’s
head position – head held right back! There is no rise and fall in tango.
This dance is level and flat. Clipped staccato movements, sharp head
turning and sudden stops are particular to tango. The hold should be
tighter and more compact. Walks should be done with the heels leading.
In the late 19th century, Buenos Aires was filled with immigrants and
transients from Europe and Africa, many of whom found themselves
lonely and looking for companionship in their new foreign habitat.
Naturally, these forlorn people found their way to the portenos, seeking
drinks to drown their sorrows, temporary friendship, and any
entertainment to help distract their depressed feelings. The variety of
cultures combined to bring about a new style of music, formed from
African beats, Indian rhythms, Latin influences, and the popular music of
the pampas (flatlands) in Argentina.
As you may guess, this new music was dubbed Tango. Historians argue
the name comes from the African candombe drum beat known as "tan-
go", or possibly from Latin word tangere (to touch). The improvisation
was filled with emotional outpouring and suggestive gyration. This sexual
choreography was accented by the melancholy drone of the bandoneon, a
German instrument very similar to the accordion. These crude
beginnings developed into less obscene styles that symbolized the lower
class of Argentina through the turn of the century. Throughout the tango’s
evolution, two things remained constant: the background music of the
bandoneon, and the passionate translation of emotions into dance.
The dance of love! Primarily is tells a story of promises, teasing and
withdrawal. This is the most sensual of the Latin dances. The emphasis
is on the body. Hip action is caused by moving body weight between the
feet. There are lots of slow body shapes and poses in rumba. Look out
for straightening of legs and swivelling action in the feet. Walks should
be strong, direct and always on the balls of feet – no heel leads.
A fun party dance from Rio de Janeiro. Very rhythmical again with lots
of hip action. Walking samba steps and side steps are the basic
components of this dance. The major characteristic of samba is the
vertical bounce action. There should also be lots of outstretched arms
and flamboyant hands.
Foxtrot is the Fred Astaire Ginger Rogers dance. The partners should
feel, and look, like they are ice skating, or gliding, across the hardwood
floor. Both dancers should stand tall, lifting from the rib cage, but from
the waist down, they should be grounded. Their chins should be up,
looking to left and up into the rafters.
Forward driving steps are taken with the heel first in contact with the
floor, with the toe lowering as the body moves over it. With body flight
or rise, or on "weave" actions, forward steps are taken with the toe.
Backwards walks are almost always taken with the toe first, with the heel
lowering as the body moves over it. At the same time, the toe of the
forward foot should release from the floor as the body moves away. Side
steps normally use the toe first.
The rise & fall action is present in a majority of patterns using a
consistent 3-step cycle, although it is still more subtle than in Waltz,
owing to the continuous passing of the feet in a lengthwise manner.
Typical of the smooth and standard ballroom dances, contra-body
movement is used to commence most rotational movements.
Sway is defined as the inclination of the body to the left or right, usually
accompanying movements to the side.
You can download some simple step-by-step routines to these dances
The same colour as your tan please! Put on the tan, do a test patch on
your arm to the depth of colour you are going for the competition and buy
a foundation that matches this. Kolor by superdrug do some very good
darker (and the slightly orange of fake tan) foundations for those on a
small budget, No 7 and the likes of Bobby Brown do some darker
foundations for those with a bit more to spend. Powder either in a
matching colour (max factor crème puff is good) or translucent. If you
prefer you can use a bronzing powder to increase the depth of colour.
Max factor pan stick is also available in darker colours and is good for
guys (point your partner in that direction if he refuses to tan) or if you
prefer something that covers more than ordinary foundation.
Don’t forget to go right up to your hairline (and in your parting if you
have one) and around your ears (especially behind), down to your tan line
and blend like mad. Some people will tan their faces, others don’t like to.
It’s personal choice really and depends on whether you can cope with
people staring at your face and asking where you went on holiday despite
the fact they saw you the day before. I never tan my face as interesting
questions about my liver function get asked at the hospital and I find my
foundation is perfectly good, others put one layer of tan on the night
before and top up with foundation. Most guys tan only their faces.
Experiment at OTNT and see what suits you.
One rule - The more the better, as long as it’s tastefully done. We don’t
want lots of pandas wandering around the floor. Lots of black eyeliner to
emphasise your eyes, if you can’t do it yourself get someone else to.
White eye shadow (Barry M – also Superdrug – is very good although
Bourjois also do some nice pots, lots of stuff around) around the top of
your eye, under the brow and out towards the hairline. Use some colour
on the bottom of the lid – gold and other shimmery colours are nice, or a
deep grey or brown can also look nice for emphasis or try and match your
costume – but not if it’s red…
Finish with ooooodles of mascara (after curling lashes) or alternatively
false eyelashes but only plain ones – no diamantes or glitter lashes here
please, Erin says no!
Try and use this to emphasise your cheekbones, suck in your cheeks and
put it in the hollows, then sweep more along the bone. You’ll probably
need a darker shade than you normally use, alternatively bronzing powder
can look good here.
Outline lips in black kohl pencil if you’re doing Latin (I know it sounds
crazy but trust me) or a deep red if you’re doing modern. Fill in with lots
of red lipstick – experiment to find a shade that suits you, not everyone
can pull of pillbox red, darker shades may suit you better. If you really
can’t wear red (and some people can’t) or don’t like it then find another
colour that suits you but doesn’t clash with your costume. Blot lipstick
and make sure to blend the lip liner in a bit then put some lip coat over
the top. This stops it coming off on your sandwiches and is generally a
spanking good thing.
Unless yours are longer than 1cm and beautifully polished, fake them.
Fake nails are not the most expensive things, Superdrug do lots of
different cheap styles or Boots do slightly more expensive but nice ones.
Buy the glue on ones, not the sticky label ones as they’ll flick off when
dancing. Nail glue is superglue, you’ll need it. Paint them to match your
costume for Latin or go natural for modern, a French manicure is a nice
look for modern. Some people like to go for the acrylic look, which is
great if you have the time and inclination to keep it up. I’m lazy and have
to wash my hands too much so prefer cheap glue on ones. Erin is
dedicated and has the time (and money) to get beautiful French-
manicured acrylics that the rest of us can only gaze at in envy, again it’s
what suits you.
Lots if you can afford them, as sparkly as possible.
There are also different styles for different types of dance, for example,
Latin dance can be particularly lively, so you need to go one of two ways
• Ballerina Bun
• High sassy ponytail containing lots of curly strands or slim
A more formal and elegant style is called for in ballroom. Styles you
might think about are:-
• My own favourite, what I call a basket bun.
• Looped updo
• French Twist
Remember to accessorise with plenty of sparkly spinners, maybe you
could add a barette , fancy clip or even a tiara!. Some prefer to use a
fabric flower in the same colour as their dress. Make sure whatever you
use, it is well secured with plenty of bobby pins.
One thing I have learned through bitter experience – some people
recommend using Vaseline to achieve a high shine. DON’T! Not on
your kids anyway – it is an absolute nightmare to get it washed out! -
there are lots of good “wet look” gels that you may fancy having a go of.
Most children and beginners start off with:-
Ballerina Bun - Step By Step Instructions
The Ballerina Bun never goes out of style. It is comprised of one main
ponytail-based-bun positioned at low down at the back of the head
This style generally works best on hair that is shoulder length or longer
with medium thickness.
This style also works best on hair that is not freshly washed. When
possible allow your hair to "age" at least 8-24 hours from your last
shampoo. The natural hair oils will help the bun style hold tighter and
1. Begin by making sure that all knots and tangles are completely
2. Working with individual sections that are about 1-2" in thickness,
smooth all of the hair with a hot flat iron. Allow hair to cool completely
3. Using a nice soft brush take all the hair from the hairline into a
ponytail that rests at the middle of the bottom of the head. Tie the
ponytail with "hair friendly" elastics the same colour as your hair.
4. Lift the ponytail straight up in the air and smooth the hair making sure
the ponytail is tightly gathered at the base.
Note: Apply a light gel or setting lotion to hair that is fine, slippery or
does not hold styles well. This will help to anchor the hair better.
Remember to apply any gel or setting sprays before adding hair
5. Smooth the ponytail back down and take the top section of the
ponytail and twist the hair clockwise into a small bun. Carefully "fan the
hair out" around the ponytail and the entire surrounding area as you
create a small round bun formation. Once you have the bun formed to the
size and shape that you like pin the bun tightly in place against your
scalp. Carefully work from one side of the new hair fan to the other and
pin the strands to form a soft floppy bun all around the base of the
6. When you have the bun sculpted to your liking and have pinned it
securely to your scalp, spray well with a firm holding spray. Apply a
medium to heavy holding spray to the finished style. Add a light
sprinkling of glitter gel for added dazzle or jazz up the sides or back or
7. Attach a tiara, or other hair accessory around the perimeter of the bun.
Pin it against your scalp to make sure it does not fall off!
A more complex updo – which is particularly lovely for old time and
modern dance is the Basket Updo.
This style is lovely to use when you want to project an elegant and
This is basically one high ponytail , split into sections, and each section is
individually gelled, bent into a loop and secured with bobby pins.. You
can see in the picture how the ends are tucked under and the “do” finished
off with a strip of hair around the perimeter of the bun.
Another “posh” updo. This has as its base the French twist, but the curls
have been done by a very good hairdresser!
Ideal for Ballroom in that it is sophisticated, but not quite as “fussy” as
the looped style shown earlier.
Comb or brush your hair smoothly back from your forehead.
Gather your hair into a ponytail with a base halfway between your crown
and nape and slightly to the left of centre. Don’t anchor it.
Twist the ponytail all the way around twice, in a clockwise direction.
This holds the base of the hair closer to your head and gives you a firm
anchor to work against.
Hold the base of the ponytail in your left hand. With your right, hold its
end up, pointing toward the ceiling.
With your right hand, fold the end of the ponytail, about the top third,
down towards the nape of your neck.
Fold the entire ponytail down under itself, towards your nape so that is it
less than half as long as it was.
Cur the folded ponytail in your left hand. There should be a slight
hollow between the ponytail and your scalp.
With your right hand, begin to gently push the upper right hand portion of
the folded ponytail down into the hollow.
Continue pushing the hair underneath your left hand into the hollow so
that the folded ponytail is slowly rolling inside the hollow.
The twist is complete when you can’t push any additional hair into the
hollow and the folded ponytail has become a tight roll.
Create a seam by tucking in bobby pins along the line formed where the
right hand edge of the roll meets your scalp starting at the bottom.
Place bobby pins all along the seam up to the top of the roll, concealing
them just under the roll.
Begin to push the upper portion of the ponytail over into the space with
the other hand, so that the folded part is slowly rolling over into it.
When you have pushed all the hair in, secure with hairgrips along the
seam formed by the join, starting at the bottom. Conceal the grips by
pushing them right underneath the roll.
Fitness And Psychological Matters
Food Rules (OK!)
How we look and feel has a lot to do with how we eat. So if we want a
minimum of spots, hair in good condition and more energy than we know
what to do with, follow these food rules.
We are all human, so don’t try to radically change your diet. Cakes
sweets and crisps in moderation are okay occasionally. Same goes for
crisps and fizzy drinks, fine every now and again but not every day.
Variety is the spice of life
Each day you should make sure you eat a variety of foods. Be creative.
This way you will not get bored of eating the same old foods.
The Big Breakfast!
This meal is a MUST. It gives your body energy to start the day with a
bang. If you are a cereal lover try to choose high fibre cereals instead of
the light weight sugar coated type. Other good breakfast choices are
baked beans on wholemeal toast or fresh fruit mixed with low fat
yoghurt, or if you are running late, grab a couple of pieces of fruit – its
great fast food.
Learn how to read ads which are always trying to persuade is to eat loads
of rubbish. Use adverts to find out things but don’t be blindly persuaded.
There’s nothing like making up your own mind.
Aim to eat five portions of fruit and veg every day. Its not just healthy
but is a well known tip for glowing skin and healthy hair.
Be sure you drink lots of water. It’s great for your looks and is a vital
part of a healthy diet. Did you know that your body is 2/3 water. It’s
really important to drink lots of water after you have exercised so that
you can replace the water you have lost. Try zinging it up with ice and a
slice of lemon. Delicious!
Psychological Well Being
1 No one’s smile shines exactly like yours
List five words to describe yourself. The trick- do not describe any
physical features and use words other than “nice”! Some Creative words
could be: Loving, Artistic, Thoughtful ,joyful….
2 Praise people for what they can do, not just for how they look.
Compliment a friend today on something other than appearance.
3 This week, ask your mom or grandmother how she felt about her
appearance when she was your age. What does she know now that she
wishes she’d known then.
4 Really accept a compliment. When a friend says, “you look great”
don’t brush her off with “I really don’t like this shirt” Just say thanks and
let the words sink in.
5 Your body is a gift of great value. Treat it as though it’s the most
valuable thing you have- It is!
6 Don’t waste your time comparing yourself to others. There’s no
one out there just like you, who has grown up with your experiences and
has your talents.
7 Listen to your body when you play sports. Don’t push yourself past
your body’s limits, even if you’re told to toughen up. Your instincts will
tell you when to stop.
8 Buy whatever size of clothing fits you most comfortably. Don’t get
hung up on the number on the label. Label sizes are not consistent. A size
nine from on brand might fit a 7 from another, so don’t be surprised if
you fit into wide range sizes.
9 Get a good food attitude. Notice which meals make you feel
healthy, strong and satisfied. Did you know that your body usually feels
best when you eat a meal that includes foods of different colours, tastes,
textures and temperatures? Remember that food is fuel, it keeps your
10 Skip soda pop and juice, drink water! Carry a bottle and try to
drink it at least 32 ounces each day.
11 Take your time when you eat. It takes a while for your brain to get
the message from your stomach that you’re full. Plus, the more slowly
you chew and the more you focus on each bite, the more flavourful your
12 Aim to be healthy not skinny. Use this checklist to notice how you
treat your body. Put a checkmark next to each item which you can agree.
I eat a variety of healthy foods at each meal.
I spend time everyday doing something fun
I sleep enough that I wake up refreshed in the morning.
I eat a meal every four to six hours to give my body energy.
I spend quiet time with myself each day.
I talk to others about my worries and fears.
I decide how much to eat by paying attention to whether my body
feels satisfied rather then by whether serving size is on my plate.
I’m active, and I exercise, dance. Or play sports most days
I try to learn something new each day.
13 Its ok to not feel perky or peppy all the time. Sometimes you have
to live with the bad feelings and just know that they’ll pass. If you feel
seriously sad though, be sure to talk to an adult that cares about you.
14 Life seems much harder when you’re short on sleep! The average
10-14 year old needs 9 ¾ to ten hours of sleep a night. Take a nap, even a
short one can leave you feeling better.
15 Need to brighten your mood? If it’s daytime, open a window and
let in some fresh air and sunlight. If it’s night time, put on a clean pair of
pyjamas and curl up with a favourite book, movie or CD.
16 Play cuddle or talk with your pet. If you don’t have a pet of your
own, play with a neighbours or friends pet.
17 When you’re having a bad day, ask for help. Tell a close friend if
you feeling sad. Let mom know if you’re worried about your English
paper. Ask dad for a hug. The support of a friend or family member can
feel like a blanket around your shoulders.
18 Its normal to feel mad sometimes, but it is important to handle your
anger in a healthy way. When you’re home stewing about a fight with a
friend, take a minute and picture yourself talking calmly with her Practice
saying “ I feel mad when you_______” and fill in the reason. When
you’ve settled down, talk to your friend for real. Remember stay calm and
focus on the issue. It’s not fair to bring up problems from yesterday, last
week, or last year.
19 Make your space beautiful. Clean your room. Organize. It’s hard to
be peaceful when you’re surrounded by chaos. A clam, orderly room can
make you feel better about yourself. Plus you’ll be able to find the clothes
you want, and they won’t be rolled up in a wad under your bed!
20 Make a happy corner- a place to display birthday cards, notes from
grandma, valentines from friends, or anything else that reminds you how
many people care about you.
21 Make sure that the photo collection in your room includes a picture
of yourself that you really like.
22 Dream big. Set goals. Be good at something, then get better at it!
Be proud of yourself. Teach others, and never, ever stop learning.
23 Start a dream list. Find a pretty notebook and write down places
you’d like to visit, experiences you’d like to have, people you’d like to
meet, and skills you would like to learn. A dream list is a great start to
creating a life filled with fun, adventure, and interesting experiences. Put
a box next to each item on your list so you can check it off when it
24 Be proud when you’re good at something. If you do a great back
walkover, more power to you! What’s the difference between being
proud and bragging? It’s all about timing.
25 If you want to show your friends your skill, pick an appropriate
moment to do so, not during class or when people are focused on
something else. When you’re hanging out sometime, first ask your friends
if they want to see what you’ve mastered. Then give it all you’ve got.
Make sure you compliment other people on what they do well, too.
26 Challenge yourself. Do you play an instrument? Play a song that’s
more difficult than usual or learn a tune by ear, no sheet music allowed.
Do you like to run? Run a little farther than you usually go. Raise the bar
for yourself- than leap to it!
27 Laugh till your stomach hurts
28 List five things you’re good at, whether its math or making up
jokes. If you feel down about yourself, check out this list.
29 Turn off the TV and go play! Exercise doesn’t have to be hard
work; it can be social time for you and your friends. Grab your best friend
and go in-line skating. Walk to the park to swing. Play a CD and dance.
You defiantly feel better than if you’d stayed stuck to the sofa.
30 Reality Check, Every day TV, movies, and magazines bombard
you with their ideas of what a beautiful girl is supposed to look like. It’s a
runaway train of unrealistic images! Put on the brakes and jump off now.
Beauty comes in all shapes and sizes.
31 The next time you’re at the mall take a look at all the different
bodies out there. Notice how few people are built like willowy, rail thin
32 Don’t believe everything you see. Even after a celebrity’s photo is
taken, the work isn’t done. High- tech experts use computers to touch up
your favourite stars’ images. They can change the shape of someone’s
body, get rid of pimples, make teeth whiter, and work all kinds of make-
33 Recognize stereotypes for what they are- uninformed judgments.
Not all people with glasses are nerds. Not all blondes are “dumb”. What
other stereotypes do you see out there?
34 Words are mighty, mighty things. The words you say to others- and
to yourself, have incredible power. Choose them wisely as you would
choose your friends.
35 Cruelty is always wrong. If someone- a bully, or your big sister
insults you, and you’re tempted to come back with mean words or an
insult, remember that being intentionally cruel is always bad news. But
that’s not saying you should take the abuse. If someone is mean or tries to
hurt you, speak up for yourself. Say Stop it! Don’t keep it a secret either.
Talk to a teacher or a parent and let one of them help you come up with
ways to handle the problem.
36 When a friend is better at something than you are at something,
ask yourself what she’s been willing to do that you have not. She may be
a natural, but most likely she’s a great free throw shooter because she
practices everyday, even when it’s not basketball season. You may
choose to do other things with your time. Refer to number 79.
37 Learn to speak your mind, even if you disagree with other people.
Agreeing just to please someone means you’re not being true to yourself.
Don’t worry that you’re being impolite, you can disagree without being
rude. Try words such as “I see your point, but I think….”. Your ideas
38 The golden rule, Treat people the way you want to be treated.
39 Follow the reverse Golden rule too, Be as kind to yourself as you
are to others.
40 Get a journal and write about these topics and some of your own:
1. Three good things that happened to me today
2. The nicest thing anyone ever said to me
3. Five things I’m grateful for
4. A time I faced a tough situation and succeeded.
Finding beauty in those around you gives you a more beautiful spirit.
You should believe in all of these.
1. I feel good about myself
2. I am strong
3. I take care of my body
4. I try new things
5. I express my feelings
6. I am silly sometimes
7. I make mistakes, and that’s okay
8. I can change
9. I like being 100 percent me.
IDSF DRESS REGULATIONS
These Regulations are part of the IDSF Competition Rules by
reference in Rule 12.
Authority and Applicability
These Dress Regulations apply to all IDSF named events and according
to the decision of the IDSF Annual General Meeting, form part of the
national competition rules for all IDSF national members, except that
IDSF national members may impose additional dress restrictions at their
own discretion for national non-IDSF-named events.
The IDSF Presidium retains the authority to impose specific additional or
general dress restrictions or otherwise amend or allow exemptions, for
1. Dresses have to create Characteristic shape for each discipline (ST
and LA) (shape area).
2. Dresses have to cover the intimate parts of the dancers bodies
3. Dresses and make-up have to respect age and level of dancers.
4. Using of religious symbols as decoration or decoration jewellery is
not allowed (this does not apply to personal jewellery).
5. The chairman can ask the competitor to remove an item of jewellery
or dress if it presents danger to the dancer or to other competitors.
6. It is allowed to dance in dresses for lower categories.
Good Taste Rule
Any use of material or colour or construction or other contrivance that
gives the appearance of non compliance with these dress rules, even
though there is no breach of the literal wording of these rules, will be a
breach of these rules if so determined by the Chairman of Adjudicators.
If a couple is not dressed in accordance with this Dress Regulation and
receives a warning from the Chairman of adjudicators, they have to
comply with the regulation or face disqualification IMMEDIATELY BY
THE CHAIRMAN. The presidium can impose additional sanctions
including suspension from competitions for repeat offenders.
Juveniles Female Dress
A. Necklines – allowed cuts.
B. Sleeves – allowed cuts
- plain or pleated, made of minimum 1 to maximum 3 half circles -
OA, one simple circular underskirt allowed, bigger underskirt -
- frills on the skirt or the underskirt, boning, soft boning or fishing
line used in the hem of the skirt – NA
- length must not be more then 10 cm above the knee and not longer
than just below the knee cap.
- allowed cuts, others - NA:
Ballroom Dance costumes and make-up
International (British) versus American style ballgowns
There are several functional differences between American style and
International style ballgowns which lead to stylistic differences.
An International style ballgown has to look good in just one position. The
lady stays in closed hold throughout the dance. This means that the front
of the dress is much less important than the back, that the sleeves don't
have to stay on when the arms are not up, etc., etc.
In contrast, an American style ballgown has to not tangle up its wearer,
fall off, or look unattractive in a wide variety of positions. Both the front
and the back of the dress are visible "in use". Also, the wearer usually
wants to be able to hold up the skirt in certain steps such as runarounds.
The upshot of all of this is that international style gowns tend to have
around 1 1/2 circle skirts with heavy hem detail (which move well when
you're not holding them, but don't look good being held), and lots of
floats on the arms and shoulders (which drag on the floor when walking
around with the arms down, and would tangle up an American style
dancer until she couldn't move). American style gowns usually have a
thin boa or none, at *least* 2 circles of skirt and usually more, and at
most one float hanging from the nape of the neck.
However, there is no reason why an international gown has to have a boa,
and there has been some trend towards using the American style skirt on
international style gowns in recent years. Basically, you can almost
always wear an American style gown for International, but most
International gowns won't work for American.
Ballgown designers bring styles in and out, and enjoy the opportunity to
create a whole different look for American Smooth from Modern. Styles
come in-out-in again like the tides – think of Feathers!
As American Smooth allows for open work, the dress must allow the
partners to dance their respective parts. This might sound silly, but wings
or drapes commonly seen on Modern dresses, do not adapt well to a
return to closed dance position from an open spin. They also tend to fly
up - cover the head, obstruct vision etc.! A long drape from the neck
down the back is an attractive alternative, and not as dangerous!
American Smooth dresses may have feathers, and may be pleated - but
most that I have seen recently are constructed of 2-3 layers of chiffon
over a lining fabric ( each layer being 7-9 yards of fabric), or 1 layer of
14-16 yards of charmeuse or silk or a multi-layer of pearl chiffon. All of
these fabrics float well and an open turn with the skirt held high is as
dramatic and beautiful as anything I have ever seen.
Modern dresses typically are pleated and have 2-3 layers of feathers
around the bottom. About 10 years ago, the skirts were short, hideous
poufs with approx. 15 petticoat layers underneath. The hem lines went
down, feathers became popular, and the dresses started to flow with the
dancers. In the last two years, I have noticed the hem lines going up and
down - from high ankle to mid-calf. Some designers use 3 1/2 circles of
pleated fabric, some use 4, to create the top layer. Under, there are 2-3
layers of crystal chiffon, chiffon, lining fabric - you name it - I've seen it.
Some designers put ruffles on these layers to create more pouf, others
increase the amount of fabric at the hem line by adding 1/2 and 1/4 circles
into seam lines.
Bodices are fortunately as original, as the skirts are similar. With new
exciting fabrics entering each season, the bodices change in styles
constantly. Laces over see-through lycra has been in for the Modern
scene and also for Amer. style.
Treatment of bodices (and skirts) is another constant. You do not
generally see sequins, as you do rhinestones, which can be very
expensive- both in time and money. Sequins shine, but rhinestones can
make your ceilings sparkle! Each stone is applied by hand, preferably
Are costumes and makeup practical or hopelessly out of touch?
Ballroom ladies don't wear their hair up in competition just because it's
traditional. They wear their hair up because it's practical - keeps the hair
from swinging around, getting in their eyes, slapping their partners across
the face - and because they would rather show the judges a good neck
line, which in continuous with the lines of the body, than loose hair that
fails to complement the overall picture.
Competition makeup is also practical. It's designed to be seen from across
a moderately large dance floor under moderate lighting conditions. As a
result, it's intermediate between typical daily wear makeup which is
lighter, and stage makeup, which is heavier since it must be seen under
bright stage lights from the back rows of an auditorium.
Finally, the tails and ball gowns are also practical. Both are cut for
minimal interference with the body and leg movements that take place in
ballroom. The skirts aren't full because it's traditional - they are full
because competitive quality ballroom requires a lot of leg division, and
the skirt must allow for this leg division on the part of both partners, since
the gent's knee often goes between the lady's knees.
BELIEVE IT OR NOT – BUT THE MAJORITY OF DRESSES ARE
MADE TO roughly the SAME PATTERN….. Especially regarding
children where they can come under strict regulations.
Most dresses are based around or on top of leotard – the differences being
in the neckline you choose to create and how you choose to decorate it.
I remember vividly the first dance dress I made. Considering all the
obstacles placed in my way it was nothing less than a miracle when I was
finally able to send my daughter out onto the dance floor in my first ever
creation! I was that pleased with myself I can’t tell you. Looking at
that dress now I am surprised at just how far my dressmaking skills have
grown in just one year BUT I am happily able to report that dressmaking
is a skill learned best by actually doing it. Making mistakes is also a
great way of learning how something should NOT be done and provides a
valuable learning curve.
I certainly made plenty of mistakes when I started. My first difficulty
was in getting my hands on a pattern. I was advised to visit a particular
shop and I was puzzled when I was quizzed by the shop assistant as to
whether I had ever made a dance dress before. When I said no, to my
surprise she actually refused to sell me the pattern, stating that I would be
wasting my time and money doing something that would only end up in
the bin. How odd?? I have always been of the opinion that you should
never be afraid to have a go at anything. It if goes wrong well so what –
you tried! Indignantly I left the shop (okay – I left feeling stupid, with
my tail between my legs)
Anyway I eventually managed to get my hands on a pattern courtesy of a
friend of my husbands – this pattern was basically a leotard with a
circular skirt attached to it – looked easy enough I thought.
Well my first mistake was to buy the world’s most unsuitable material for
a Latin dress. In my naivety I thought all material would be the same and
letting the cheap price seduce me I did not realise the problems I was
making for myself. This fabric was burgundy brown (yukky on the floor)
had no stretch in it at all – and perhaps its worst crime – it was crinkle cut
– like corrugated cardboard! Then to make the dress look even worse I
actually attempted to put a zip in it. I had no choice – its not like it would
stretch over her head – and how else was she to put it on!. I also did not
understand the importance of altering the leotard to fit the length of the
wearer. I had made the body too long which then meant the back of the
dress stuck out in a point –helped by the presence of the big zip! More
trauma was to follow with the skirt. I was told to get fishing wire to
make a nice curly hem so I trotted down to the local hobby shop and
believe it or not I was palmed off with a great big bag of coiled metal?
How could I begin to make a hem with this I wondered? Turned out it
was LINE I needed, not WIRE!. But even when I got some of this I was
still no wiser. You have to stretch the fabric in a way so that when it is
released it curls over the wire. In theory this is great but in practice it is
somewhat different. You need to be strong in one hand and have a good
grip with the other which I don’t. I vowed there and then that I would
never make a curly hem again. Thankfully they seem to be out of fashion
at the moment.
The second dress I made using the same pattern. The body worked out
okay this time but because I had not ordered enough fabric I was forced
to make a skirt consisting of only one circle… they really do need two,
otherwise they don’t go out as far as desired on the spin - and it all looks
quite rubbish to be honest. This material was stretch velvet lycra – but I
learned stretch means is expands one way – not good enough for my
– buy the right fabric
– read your pattern
– Buy enough of it
Basic types of modern dress:
1. Panel/Princess line dresses – McCalls very good at these, buy a
basic pattern and change necklines, lower the back, flare panels,
add godets (1/4 – ½ circle in same or contrast fabric) or etc.
Stoning or overlayers in lace make the most striking features.
These are really nice to work with as the general shape is perfect.
2. Layered dresses – two dresses overlaid with the top being shorter
and the bottom having underskirts (chiffon/satin) attached.
3. Classic bodice and skirt – many modern styles, extend the bodice
over the skirt, cut at an angle, dip the hem, corset style, star shaped
etc. Skirts can be paneled or circular. Chiffon skirts require 1.5 -2
circles per skirt and need at least three layers (four if pale
coloured). If you’re simply joining the skirt to the bodice, then
you’ll need to stone the join quite heavily, if you’re letting the
bodice come down over the skirt a little then it’s fine not to.
Patterns are rarely suitable without some alteration and remember that
you should aim for at least one dress size smaller if you’re using a stretch
fabric, otherwise it’ll hang off your body. If you go for sleeves, you have
to make the armhole smaller (flatten the upper curve a bit, but widen the
underarm bit by the seam to allow arms to be lifted) and the sleeve less
bulky so it's more fitted, like a leotard. As explained above, most dresses
are made with a leotard as a foundation; this is very useful for support
and hanging underskirts from. It isn’t essential, but you will get a better
fit with a built in bodysuit.
If you have a design in mind, look out for a pattern which approximates
it. For me the best dresses are the ones which are simple in style but have
striking features like colour, or stoning etc. A complicated style will take
you hours and won’t necessarily look better than a simple one with extras
stuck on, unless you’re a very experienced dressmaker of course!
It's definitely easier using stretch than non stretch and it's not hard
converting a commercial pattern into a competition suitable dress. You
need to use at least a size smaller (or just keep taking it in until it fits),
and make sure the dress flares out enough if using panels, or add godets.
You don't always need a leotard inside but many skimpy backless styles
(modern & Latin) are based around a leotard to hold them together.
If you use chiffon for skirts, you MUST let the bias fall out - hang the
pieces before sewing, or hang the dress before hemming for a few days.
Otherwise what starts off as a perfectly straight hem goes all wonky as it
stretches across the grain under its own weight. Also if you use circle
skirts, you need to cut a far smaller hole than you think you need, the
fabric stretches of its own accord, better to cut too small than too
large. You need at least 3 layers and it’s usually easier to tack them
together round the hole before attaching to the bodice.
When sewing stretch - some machines offer a special stretch stitch a bit
like a triple back stitch. I have been advised not to use it as it makes the
seam stronger than the fabric, so under strain the fabric rips rather than
the seam which is far easier to repair. Use a shallow zig-zag, it's also
much easier to unpick if you go wrong.
Rolled hems for chiffon - if you have an over locker great, otherwise you
can buy a rolled hem attachment, but you often get a better result by
hand. I just roll the hem between my fingers and use a fairly wide zig
zag, over which then pulls tight. You can also do a narrow folded hem for
chiffon if you find this easier and run a straight stitch down the middle of
the fold. Some people find this easier, most prefer the rolled method. For
finishing stretch fabrics, or sewing in elastic, a running zig-zag, the triple
stitch side-to-side, is best. It’s also very useful for making fabric/mesh
covered elastic straps.
Based around and on top of a leotard in almost all cases and usually made
of lycra, stretch lace or mesh. Latin dresses do not have to be minimal, if
you prefer not to show something then cover it up. Wear what makes you
feel comfortable to dance in, and is supportive enough for your body.
Sew the dress in two layers (leotard with dress over the top) and use a
zig-zag stitch for everything. Elastic around the leg seams of the leotard
and across the top seams always helps give a nice fit and hold it against
the body. Remember to build in suitable support - bra cups for the smaller
lady, or a bra with back and straps removed and replaced for the larger
lady. Make your own straps from elastic covered in flesh/tan mesh or
your dress fabric to hold it all together; you should use these to replace
the back and straps of your bra as well.
Finish edges with a hem if the fabric needs one (or if you’re using
fringing) or just cut it neatly and stone it if you’re using lycra. Stone as
much as you can afford, or decorated with fringe/beaded fringe/bead
droppers/stoned lace motifs if you prefer.
Swarovski – the best but the most expensive.
Preciosa – second best to Swarovski but not by much, again sold by most
Acryllic stones – Sold by most places, nowhere near as much sparkle as
proper rhinestones, but good if all you want is to fill in colour or are on a
very tight budget.
Korean rhinestones – Useful again, if the budget is very tight.
If you are looking for a shop that sells dress patterns then I recommend
HELPFUL HINTS FOR “COMP NIGHT”
Remember all your clothes: shoes, socks, dresses, RnR outfits.
Dress in warm clothing that is suitable for you to put on in between
Make sure you get there in plenty of time so you can get settled,
comfortable and calm.
You might need to bring something to eat and drink, not everywhere
will sell food. Check with your teacher if there are restrictions on
bringing in food. Take a towel with you to put across your knee
whilst eating. Fruit such as grapes and bananas are excellent in that
they provide refreshment and a protein boost – but neither will make a
mess (or a smell)
Keep listening to know when your competition is and whether you
have been recalled into another round.
Let people know where you are going if you need to leave your seat.
When competitions are in progress walk round the edge of the floor to
avoid any accidents (spectators and competitors).
Bring something to do – something quiet, and clean!
Check with the organisers before you take any photographs or video.
Chances are video will not be allowed at all. Some will let you take
Solo competitors wear their number on the front. In couples the lead
partner wears the number on his/her back.
Your dance has just been called:-
• Look confident! SMILE! (except for tango, of course!)
• Don’t panic if you go wrong, go off time, or hit another couple;
stop and start again. If you crash, it is better to take a couple of
seconds to regain a good hold/position before starting than to start
in a rush from a bad position.
• Avoid hitting other couples, but in the event of an accident it is
always good manners to apologise and help the couple up if you
knock them over.
• Judges see you when you walk on and off the floor as well so
maintain the confident look. If you have a disagreement with your
partner, save the argument until you’re off the floor and out of
sight of the judges.
• Look up, smile and enjoy yourself! If you’re tired or having a bad
day, don’t let it show
MOST IMPORTANT OF ALL: ENJOY YOURSELF!