Dance Diary: Coco, I Don’t Think We’re in Armani Anymore


Feathers & spangles & ruffles! Oh, my! 

I hoped it would never come to this. I swore I would never do it. I believe my exact words on the subject were “if I ever even say I’m thinking about doing this slap me”. And I am agreeing to take part in my first major dance competition.  And with that comes the need for a costume.


As someone who has spent a good part of her life refining her personal style entering the arena of ballroom wear is, as one of my Romanian instructors says, “a little bit challenge”. I love rhinestones and sequins and all sorts of embellishments, but I tend to draw the line at eye searing neons and animal prints in shades that any leopard will tell you do not occur in nature. And then there are the cutouts...I could be wrong, but I highly doubt any judge wants to see the scar from my gallbladder surgery. But I also had a broadway costume designer mentor who once told me that the difference between the professionals and the amateurs he worked with was that the professionals were always willing to try anything that the designer threw at them. So when it came time to go to the professionals and chose a dress my rule was “no matter what say yes” (which is also the first rule of improv, but that’s for another day).


Fortunately for me, I found a great crew of experts at Encore Ballroom Couture. It didn’t hurt at all that I came equipped with my own crew of my sister, Evie, and two great nieces, Epuri & Coco (ages ten & eight) for second and third opinions.  Entering the showroom was like landing on planet sparkle. Every where you looked there were beads and sequins and fringe and lace and color. Heaven for the little girls in my entourage and not too bad for their auntie either. It was sort of like being on Say Yes to the Dress Ballroom Edition (hmmm....I might actually watch that show....Cable execs if you’re listening...)


So with the goal of saying yes to whatever they presented me to try on out came the dresses. The first thing you need to know about trying on dance costumes is that the way they appear on the hanger often bears no relation to the way they will look on a human. This was apparent pretty quickly from the very first dress. On the hanger it appeared as a pile of gold and copper stones with a skirt made of varying shades of old panty hose. But once I put it on the stones sparkled in the light and brought out my skin tone, and the chiffon skirt moved like a dream.  


Also, when your entrourage includes an eight and a ten year old there wil be some difference of opinion in what constitutes an appropriate dress. The yellow fishnet dress that was held together by spangles, feathers and a strategically placed flower or two had me breaking into the chorus of “Copacabana”, but for the under twelve set it was just right. Don’t get me wrong, it was the sort of dress that would look gorgeous on a woman with much darker skin and better developed stomach muscles than I, but it was not my dress. Their second choice of a daisy printed dress with a maribou hemline made me look like an extra on the Dukes of Hazzard but on a sunny busty blonde it would be absolutely smashing. 

In the end I figured out that much of what I already knew about dressing in the real world and dressing for the ballroom was not all that different. Jewel tones sing on me and neons and pastels not so much (the less said about the lavender dress that Evie said make me look like a fairy the better). Fringe is my embellishment of choice. The cut and fit of a garment  are my best friends.And always, always listen to the experts when they make suggestions. I’m thrilled with the dress I chose, but I’m afraid you’ll have to wait until March to see it. 


This one came close....