Men’s Dancewear

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Men’s Dancewear

Many beginner male dancers struggle with what to wear to practice and competition. There are so many styles and varieties of shirts, pants, and even shoes. Lucky for you, we’re here to help.

We briefly covered what to wear for competition here, so in this article we’ll focus on practicewear.

The most important thing for practicewear is that it is comfortable and allows you to easily move, stretch, and contract. You will need to able to stretch your arms in all directions, as well as bend the knees and hips to their fullest rotations. For this reason, dancewear is made of a flexible and stretchy material.

Pants

Je_Dor_Basic_Latin_Pants_B3564A-acPants should be tight fitted around the hip area and flare towards the bottom. Make sure that the pants are comfortably fitted in the hip and behind area. This is the most important part. You certainly don’t want to have saggy pants while you shake your hips! The pants will flare at the bottom; ballroom pants will have a larger flare than latin pants to better show fluidity and leg lines.

When you initially purchase practice pants, you may find that they are too long. That’s fine – many companies intentionally do this to allow the customer to hem the pants depending on the length of their legs.

Shirts

DSI_1041_Collection_Tail_Suit-bThere are a variety of shirts available for both ballroom and Latin styles, and your choice of shirt largely depends on your personal preference for style.  Of course, ballroom and Latin shirts differ from each other in that the Latin style calls for lower necklines and flashier patterns, whereas the ballroom style has a much more elegant and smoother look.

If you are looking to buy a shirt or suit jacket (especially for the ballroom styles) and you have the opportunity to try it on, don’t forget to see how the shirt feels to lift your arms up in dance position. This is the most common mistake beginners make! When dancing, your arms will very rarely be down by your sides, so make sure to fit the shirt while in dance position. Make sure you can move, stretch, and twist in the jacket and shirt before you buy it.

Overall, the most important thing to remember when buying dancewear is that you feel comfortable and confident. If you feel good in your clothes, it will be easy to see that through your dancing. On the other hand, if you feel constricted or uncomfortable in your clothing, your face, emotions, and ultimately your dancing, will reflect that. So take some time to find pants, shirts, and jackets that fit your body as well as your personality.

Lookin’ Hot!

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OK, ladies, let’s talk about tanning. Many dancers (especially beginners) ask me, “Why do I need to tan? It doesn’t make me a better dancer!” And that’s true, it doesn’t, but as a performer/competitor, you’re not only being judged by your technique but also by your general look and feel. You wouldn’t go on the floor without doing your hair and makeup, right? Now, think of tanning as part of your makeup routine.

When you’re dancing on the floor, there will be tons of lights on you, making you look much paler than you are in real life. Ideally, your skin should be a nice medium brown color.

Tanning Salon

The easiest way to get the nice tanned look is to go to a tanning salon and get a spray-tan. I wouldn’t suggest doing the tanning bed because – as we all know – you significantly increase your risk of cancer by using a tanning bed. Depending on your natural skin color, you may want to go several times to get a nice deep tan. But please, avoid being orange. Also, be mindful of the clothing you wear, as tight-fitting clothing can rub your tan off.

At home

Another – cheaper – way is to tan at home. This is going to be a bit of a process, and you’ll need a friend to help you out if you need to tan you back.  Personally, I prefer to tan at home so I can choose how dark I get. Start the tanning process about 5 days before you need to go on stage. It will take that long. The reason is that your tan will wash off in the shower, so you’ll have to slowly build it up over the days.

If you’re very light skinned (like me), you’ll need to start with a base coat. I usually go with Neutrogena MicroMist Airbrush Sunless Tan with a Level 2 or 3 tan. Start applying this once a day for three days. On days 2 and 3 before you begin, make sure you didn’t miss anything on day 1. If you did, apply extra to that area. Don’t forget your hands, feet, neck, and back of the arms! After each spray, allow more than enough time for the spray to dry. You’ll need more than the time indicated on the bottle. After the third day, do not shower anymore. I know this sounds kind of gross, but otherwise, you will undo the solid basecoat you’ve just achieved.

Once you have a good basecoat, apply Dance Spa Competition Color once a day for the remaining two days. This part is pretty time consuming, as you have to make sure you don’t miss any spots. Get a friend to help you with hard-to-reach places like your back. Again, allow ample time for the drying process. Otherwise, you can stain your clothing and your tan will come out blotchy.  You want a clean, even tan, so don’t cut corners!

Touch-ups

If you need a touch up on the day of your competition/performance, Sex Symbol Aerotan is very quick and easy. It dries fast and leaves a bit of a shimmer. Amazon even sells the Sex Symbol and ProTan together in a package!

Notes

  • Shower and shave before you start tanning! You won’t be able to shave once you start the process.
  • Shower the least amount possible. Your tan is not resistant to water.
  • Be VERY mindful of the clothes you wear after you start tanning. Your white shirts will stain. Try to wear dark colors (this may mean planning your outfits for the week).
  • Avoid wearing tight fitting shirts. The more contact your clothing has with your body, the more the tanning will rub off.
  • If you choose to tan at home, the process will get much easier the more you do it. You’ll learn tips and tricks as you go along.

Have some favorite tanning products? Leave them in the comments below!

Cuban Motion

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If you’ve danced for more than six months, I’m sure you’ve heard the term “Cuban motion” or “Latin motion” many times. Well, what is it and why is it so important?

Cuban motion refers to the continuous movement of the hips in every step. Rumba/Bolero, Cha Cha, and Mambo are full of Cuban motion, while Jive/Swing, Samba, and Paso Doble have little or none. Cuban motion is what makes these dances look sexy and hot.  We’re going to give you a taste of how to achieve this. Of course, it’s difficult to convey such a complex topic without a visual explanation, but we hope this post helps you in your dancing nonetheless.

Exercise

Start with your ankles together and your feet turned out at 45 degrees. Remember this position: this is your center. Your feet should pass through exactly this position as you move from one step to another (in all dances!). So now let’s start with the exercise.

  1. Lift up. Feel that everything above your hips is stretching as far up as possible through the top of your head. At the same time, imagine that everything below your hips is pushing down into the ground.
  2. Bend your right knee, lifting your heel off the ground and bring your left hip back (not down or up). Make sure to keep the space between your hips and your ribcage equal on either side. One side should not be scrunched. Really feel that the left hip is going as far back as possible. Stretch!
  3. Keep standing straight and stretching up and down!
  4. Begin to straighten the right knee, rolling through the ball, arch and heel of your foot as you bring the left hip back to center. Are you back in your starting position (with your ankles together and feet turned out)? Are you still stretching up and down? Are your sides equal in length?
  5. Repeat the exercise on the other side.

Do this exercise slowly. The slower you do it, the more you will get out of it. Stand in front of a full-length mirror and repeat this exercise for at least 15 minutes a day and you will feel a noticeable difference in your dancing, guaranteed.

Once you feel comfortable doing this exercise in place, experiment with cucarachas to the side or forward and backward Rumba walks. Don’t forget to breathe and don’t get discouraged!

Have questions about this exercise? Leave them in the comments below!

Competition FAQs

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1. What is DanceSport?

DanceSport is the competitive side of ballroom dancing. There are a few different Untitledgoverning bodies for ballroom in the US and around the world, but the most common are collegiate competitions and USA Dance competitions. College competitions, as the name suggests, are organized by colleges around the country and are meant for dancers enrolled in any degree program. Some collegiate competitions may be open to the public, so check with the organizers if you aren’t sure.  USA Dance also organizes competitions and is the main governing body for amateur ballroom dancers in the US. It is also part of IDSF, the world governing body for amateur ballroom dancers. You must be a USA Dance member to compete in USA Dance competitions. Annual fees vary.

2. What are the styles and levels?

Competitions are divided into four main categories:

  • American Rhythm – Swing, Cha Cha, Rumba, Bolero, Mambo
  • American Smooth – Waltz, Foxtrot, Tango, Viennese Waltz
  • International Latin – Jive, Cha Cha, Rumba, Samba, Paso Doble
  • International Standard – Waltz, Foxtrot, Tango, Quickstep, Viennese Waltz

The competitions are also divided into sections by level of experience:

  • Newcomer or Pre-Bronze
  • Beginner or Bronze
  • Intermediate or Silver
  • Advanced or Gold
  • Master of Syllabus (not frequently offered at collegiate competitions)
  • Pre-Championship
  • Championship

3.    How much experience do I need to compete?

NONE! With basic knowledge of the steps in the most common dances, you’re ready for the floor. Why? Because you’re competing against people at the same experience level as you.

4.    What do I wear?

We covered ladies’ Latin and Ballroom dresses in an earlier post. However, for many competitions, costumes aren’t allowed for the beginner dancer.  Here are some guidelines if you’re not allowed to wear a costume:

Men

For Standard/Smooth:
Shirt: White or black long-sleeved dress shirt and tie
Pants: Black dress slacks or tux pants.
Accessories: Black vest or buttoned sweater that perpetuates the formal look. No watches, You may also wear a tie or bowtie that tastefully matches your partner’s dress.

For Latin/Rhythm
Shirt: Black or white dress shirt. No loose clothing.
Pants: Fitted black dress slacks.
Accessories: Belts with shiny accents attract attention to hips, but be careful not to look tacky. No watches.

Women

For Standard/Smooth:
Dress: Formal dresses or skirts. Wear a dress that is above your ankles. Skirts should not be tight fitting and should land at least mid-calf.
Accessories: Nice, elegant jewelry – pearls or rhinestone pieces that attract attention.

For Latin/Rhythm:
Dress:
Cocktail/party dress or two piece outfit. Short skirts or skirts with flare or fringe are great for spinning. Be careful to not wear something too short! Avoid restrictive clothing. Consider wearing something bright and bold, as black tends to be drowned out.
Accessories: sparkle on the floor! Large glittery earrings/bracelets/necklaces/rings are great. Get creative! Nude, flesh-tone, fishnet stockings can elongate your legs. Overall, go for sexy and comfortable.

Still have questions? Leave them in the comments below!

Eye Makeup

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In the competitive world of Ballroom dancing, a tremendous amount of attention is given to looks. Especially if you’re a lady. You’ve got to worry about your shoes, dress, hair, nails, makeup, tanning, and accessories. Who has time to even think about dancing anymore?! Luckily, we’re here to help you tackle all of these issues. Over the next couple of posts, we’ll discuss everything in cosmetics – from tanning to hair, nails, and makeup.

Today, we’re going to talk about eye makeup. This is probably one of the most important parts of your makeup application. Your eyes should be big, bright, and bold. So let’s get started!

  1. Prime the area from your eyelid to your eyebrow. Use a primer such as Cinema Secrets to coat your eye before you start to apply any shadow. This will help keep the shadow in place longer.
  2. Cover your eyelid with a white color. Use a sparkling white shadow to cover all the way from your eyelashes to your eyebrow. The more sparkle you use, the easier it will be to see from far away. Don’t be shy!
  3. Find your brow bone. Apply a thin, dark line with eye shadow across your brow bone line (the place where your eyelid meets your forehead). Use a dark shadow like black or navy. Then, apply another color of your choice over that line to give it some depth. Blend the color in and fade it upwards using a blending brush. Next, go over the crease again with black shadow to give it some more definition.
  4. Apply eyeliner. Apply black eyeliner to the upper lash line. Draw the line from the corner of your eye to the outside. Blend the liner with a smudging brush.
  5. Apply mascara. Apply mascara by running the brush from the inner part of the eyelashes to the outside, making sure there are no clumps.
  6. Apply false eyelashes. Using tweezers and eyelash glue, apply large, false eyelashes. Make sure to read and follow the directions on the packaging.
  7. Apply white pencil to waterline. Using a white pencil, draw a line on the inside of the bottom lash line.
  8. Apply eyeliner. Apply black eyeliner to the bottom part of your eye, under the lashes – but only halfway! Blend and flare out the rest of the way with a smudge brush.
  9. White liner. Add white liner to fill in outer corner of the eye. Then set it with white shadow.
  10. Highlight. Highlight the inner corner of your eyes with white shadow.
  11. Brows. Fill in your brows with an eyebrow pencil.  Highlight under your brow with a white shadow to make them pop.

And you’re DONE!

Practicewear 101

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What is practicewear?
Practicewear is clothing that you wear while you’re practicing or training. In other words, it’s clothing specifically designed for dancers to be comfortable moving in. You can wear it to class, out social dancing, or even for performances. It can also be worn as a beginner costume for competitions. Generally, beginners are not allowed to wear “costumes” (clothing that has been rhinestoned or specifically designed for competition), but you could wear practice clothing for your first time on the floor.

Do I need practicewear?
In short, yes. Practicewear will help you get a feel for how your clothing affects your dancing. You can use it to style your arms, to accentuate your hips, or to help you get into character. In this respect, it is a good idea to get practicewear that is similar to your competition costume. This will help you get a better idea of how it will move on the floor and ways you can use it to enhance your dancing.

Why is it so expensive?
Unfortunately, practicewear can be expensive. Why? Because the material is extremely durable. Think about it – your dancewear should be able to stretch, scrunch, be shoved in the bottom of your dance bag, be sweat in, and washed. All on a regular basis. Practicewear is made out of expensive, but durable, material that will last with you for many years. If you’re really interested in continuing to dance, this is a worthwhile investment.

What size is right for me?
Finding the right size can be difficult for you, especially if you’re ordering dancewear online. Luckily, a lot of practicewear is made out of stretchy spandex material, so the sizes can be somewhat flexible. If you are looking for larger clothing – never fear! Many companies also provide plus-sized clothing for dancers. Also, make sure to check around the website for sizing charts or specific measurements for the clothes you want to buy. At Danceshopper.com, we provide the following sizing chart for our clothes.

Where can I buy it?
Danceshopper.com has many brands in one place. You can find all the popular brands from Chrisanne, Santoria, LuLuCouture, to Je’Dor, and many many more. And if you bought the wrong size, don’t worry! Our return policy is extremely generous. We’ll exchange it for you, no questions asked.

Rhinestoning Dance Shoes – Part 1

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This is the first article in a two-part series.

Last time, we wrote about finding the perfect shoe. Now it’s time to add some sparkle! Rhinestoning (or crystallizing) your shoes is a great way to give them that extra dazzle to catch the eye. It’s great for competitions or just as an accessory to your dance outfit.

Color

It’s important to remember that the rhinestones on your shoes should be eye-catching, but not distracting. The point is to invite people to notice your feet, without drawing attention from the whole picture. Do this by choosing light colors. Light colors will blend into your shoes and create a seamless look of sparkles and flash.

You can choose rhinestones that match the color of your dress. For example, if you are wearing a pink dress, wear a Light Rose or Light Amethyst color. For blue dresses, wear an Aquamarine color.

If you’re not sure of your dress color or want something more versatile, choose clear colors like Silk or White Opal. These rhinestones will dazzle and sparkle with any outfit.

A great way to make sure you get the right color of rhinestone is to order the Swarovski Crystal Color Chart. The chart comes with real crystals, so you know exactly what your rhinestones will look like before you order them.

Design

There are countless ways to rhinestone your shoes and there is no “right” way to do it. But we’ve got some tips and suggestions to help you create the best design for you.

Think about what part of the foot you want to highlight. Usually, the heel is a good place to start. You can use the picture to the right as a starting point. Try varying the density of the rhinestones. For example making the rhinestones very close together at the bottom of the heel and fanning out as you get closer to the back of the shoe. This is a nice way to keep the eye moving. You could also densely rhinestone the entire heel (as shown to the left), but leave the back of the shoe without any crystals. This makes a bold statement and is sure to grab attention from across the room. Another idea is to make three lines of rhinestones on each side of the heel that extend all the way up the heel and then branch out once they reach the back part of the shoe.

Another great place to rhinestone your shoe is on the front where material comes across the top of your foot (as shown here). If your shoes have straps, you can crystallize the straps going across your feet. Alternatively, you can also rhinestone the point at which the straps meet. I would not suggest crystallizing the straps that buckle your shoes in or ones that go around your ankle. These straps get used often and you run the risk of the crystals falling off each time you use the straps.

What’s your favorite color of crystal to rhinestone your shoes?

Part two of this article will cover how to rhinestone your shoes.

Finding the Perfect Shoe

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Finding the perfect fitting shoe can be just as important – if not more important – than the right dress. We understand that going shoe shopping for Ballroom or Latin shoes can make you feel a bit like Cinderella at midnight. That’s why we’re here to give you some tips before you turn into a pumpkin!

If you’ve already taken a couple of dance classes and decided you want to pursue Latin/Ballroom dancing, you’ll need to get yourself some dance shoes. Dance shoes are specially made to mold to your feet, give you added support, and help you move more easily across the floor. They are made with suede on the bottom, allowing for easy turns, seamless gliding, and graceful fluidity.

The most important thing when looking for any dance shoe is to make sure that they give your foot, including the arch and ankle, proper support. This means that your dance shoe will not fit you like a street shoe. Dance shoes are going to fit much tighter around your foot, with little wiggle room, especially in the ankle area. Try on a size or two smaller than what you would normally buy, to allow the shoe to comfortably mold to the shape of your foot. For Latin shoes, your toes might go off the top edge of the shoe, but that’s ok, as long as your foot feels secure.

For Latin shoes, a 2.5 or 3-inch heel is typical. For standard shoes, try a1.5 to 2-inch heel. If you’re buying Latin and Ballroom shoes together (or a second pair of either), I suggest getting a shoe with the same heel height. This way, your partners and teachers won’t have to adjust to your new height when you put on your shiny new shoes. This is important because if you change your heel height, it will also change where your hands are in relation to your partner, affecting where he/she will find your hands after coming out of a turn.

Try on different brands of shoes. Everyone makes their shoes differently, so it’s not uncommon to find that you don’t feel comfortable in Dance Naturals but feel great in Supadance, even if the sizes are the same. There are lots of brands, so if it’s your first time buying shoes, carve out a couple of hours out of your day to spend at the store. Try some other popular brands like Ray Rose, IDS, DANSport, and Dancefeel.

Remember that it will take some time to break in your shoe. No matter how many years you’ve been dancing, a new pair of shoes will hurt the first couple of times you wear them. Be prepared to have blisters on your feet, so bring lots of band-aids with you to practice. And don’t buy new shoes the week before a performance or competition, because it will hurt to wear them. One way to loosen up new shoes quickly is to put your shoes in the bathroom while you take a hot shower. The heat and moist air will loosen up the fabric, making your shoes easier to break in.

Do you have a brand of shoes that you swear by? Have more tips on how to break in new shoes? Let us know!

World Super Stars 2012

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We are excited to announce TWO new DVDs: the 2012 World Super Stars Dance Festival Latin and the 2012 World Super Stars Dance Festival Ballroom! Check them out here:

The 2012 World Super Stars of Ballroom DVD is an absolutely stunning display of artistry and dance. Watch the world’s best ballroom dancers again and again as they show off their grace, technique, and passion. See the Waltz, Foxtrot, Tango, Quickstep, and Viennese Waltz performed by only the best in the world. These performances are definitely not to be missed. Experience the beauty and magnificence for yourself! 

The 2012 World Super Stars of Latin DVD showcases Latin dancing at its finest. Watch seven of the world’s best Latin dancers as they show off their playful and sexy moves in the Cha Cha, Rumba, Samba, Jive, and Paso Doble. Let yourself be captivated by their impeccable technique, unparalleled control, and true passion. Don’t miss these energetic, fun, and inspirational performances. A must-see for all dancers!

Find the Perfect Latin/Ballroom Dress

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Finding the perfect ballroom or Latin dress can be a very daunting task. There’s so much to think about! You have to choose a style of dress, pick a fabric, and make sure it fits in all the right places and helps you look and dance your best. Not to mention knowing which rhinestones to get or how to accessorize your outfit. Whew! No wonder you may be overwhelmed already. But don’t worry. This article will explain everything you need to know about finding the perfect dress.

Vesa for Chrisanne Rouched Frill Latin SkirtFirst, you may be wondering if you even need a dance costume at all. That depends. Each competition is different, so you definitely want to check with the competition rulebook before you make any purchases. Usually, costumes are not allowed for the beginning levels until you reach at least the silver level. Even if costumes are allowed, some competitions have strict rules about where and how much skin you can show. Make sure to read the fine print carefully.

Ok, so let’s say you’ve determined that you’re looking for a costume. You’ll need something that fits your body type. Start by thinking of what you’d like to show off. Got nice long legs? A beautiful back? Toned arms? Look for dresses that accentuate the parts of your body that make you proud. For Latin, try on a short skirt, a backless dress, or a one-shoulder top. For ballroom, try an open back, a plunging neckline, or a sleeveless dress.

Unfortunately, we all also have the parts of us that maybe need a little work. Your dress should help distract from the parts that you’re not so psyched about. Fringe dresses are great for concealing imperfections because they move around a lot, which distracts the eye. Fringe and frill dresses are also a good idea if you need a little extra help with hip movement, as they add volume and movement. If you’re looking to cover some skin, Ballroom dresses tend to be less revealing than Latin dresses, so it’s easier to cover up what you don’t want people to look at. There are plenty of dresses that are both elegant and modest.

Lumiere Verona Ballroom Dress Now that you’ve got a style of dress in mind, you can start to think about color. One of the most popular mistakes beginners make when buying a Ballroom or Latin dress for competition is to get a dress in a dark color. Your goal is to get noticed by the judges, and the easiest way to do that is to wear bright colors and don your dress in rhinestones (we’ll cover rhinestones in a future article). Bright pink, lime green, and purple colors are very popular right now. You can also opt for loud prints like animal print, flowers, or multicolored. Don’t be afraid to attract some attention!

I know you’ve already got a lot to think about before you buy a dress, but there are a couple more (very important) things to keep in mind. First, make sure your dress doesn’t impede your dancing. Be careful of long skirts – you don’t want to be worrying about keeping it out of the way or your partner tripping over it on the dance floor.  Second, be certain that you can move, stretch, and most importantly, dance in the dress. No matter how good you look, if you can’t move freely, it’s not going to be worth the investment. Finally, the most important thing is that you feel confident in the dress. If you’re worried about looking silly or that your dress doesn’t fit quite right, you won’t give your best performance. Nothing looks better on a dancer than a big smile and a confident posture.

What are your favorite colors or prints on a dress? Leave your answer in the comments below!

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