competition

There are a few grooming pre-requisites that any female ballroom dancer should be aware of before heading into a dance competition. Some things are obvious (no crinkly floats or skirts!) whilst others may not be so obvious. I travel to major competitions all over the world and nowadays I see its pretty common to get hair and makeup done by a professional but what about the other important factors that go into creating the finished product? Ballroom dancing is a highly visual and highly perceptive sport/art so if you want to do well not only do you have to learn how to dance but you have to make dang sure that you look the best on that floor too! The learning stuff I can leave to your teachers as it’s not so easy to give a dance lesson through a blog (I could try? Joking..) but I thought maybe I’d help a sister or two out by sharing a few things I find important on a competition day. The best thing about most of these factors are that we can ourselves control them and therefore put forward our best ๐Ÿ™‚

1. Dress + Shoes:

When going into a competition I think these two items are probably most important (thanks Captain Obvious you say!) but I don’t mean just ‘having’ these things but actually the quality, the fit and the look of them. Obviously the style and cut of the dress is your own personal choice but some things to make sure of are that the fit of the dress is right, the colour is appealing and that the stonework is professional. Find yourself a dressmaker you can trust! Also make sure that once you have your dress that it is always clean on comp days, fake tan and makeup all over your beautiful dress is not a good look.

Shoes are an important one for me but maybe that’s just because I’m a bit of a perfectionist! I feel that the shoes should make the feet look elegant and beautiful because they are where a lot of judges’ eyes will most likely be at some point. Therefore, dirty old shoes are a not a go-er. Just imagine if you were going to a ball… would you wear a clapped out pair of dirty, worn out shoes to go with your amazing new ball gown? No? Well its the same thing on the dance floor! If you can, try to have 2 pairs of dance shoes; one for practice and one for competitions. Also, if you dye your shoes to match your dress then that’s taking professionalism to the next level my friend! Hands up who wants a DIY tutorial on dyeing dance shoes? Let me know in the comments box below!

Last quick thing to mention on this topic is smell. I go to too many comps where my gag reflex is triggered. Tan makes us not smell pleasant and coupled with intense working out, tight-fitting dress materials and closed in shoes with no socks it really isn’t a flower party. Invest in some Febreeze, wear deodorant and smother yourself in lovely perfumes. We want to knock the judges off their feet when we dance past them because our dancing is THAT amazing, not because we smell like an old spice pantry.

2. Fake Tan

Fake tan is pretty much a must for any ballroom dancer. It’s horrible and leaves us looking like Oompaย Loompas in public for many days after the comp but unfortunately there is no getting around it. In my 20 years of dancing I’ve only ever seen one (Yes, ONE!) girl not wear fake tan to an event. That chick was ballsy and had the most beautiful porcelain white skin and was going for what looked to be a 1920’s type vibe. So it was for an effect to help with her statement but even that didn’t last for long.. 2 or 3 comps maybe? Then she was back with the rest of us, tanning up a storm. I have a blog post on tanning which you can find here but mainly for grooming sakes make sure your tan is even, not too orange or green in colour and don’t wear too much! Over tanning is probably worse than not wearing any tan to be honest. I’m very fair naturally so I never have the problem of being over tanned but I do feel that ballroom gals can get away with being a lot less brown than the latin ladies. I only ever really wear one or two coats of tan these days (my latin days are OVER!) plus I feel that having darker hair can let you get away with wearing less tan too. A tip I like to do if I do have a fair bit of tan on is to still keep my face a shade or two lighter but apply a deeper colour around the perimeter of my face so that my face still has light to it. If you match your whole face to the colour of your skin not only will you look like a carrot but you will lose your features too! Getting patchy tan after doing too many comps in a row? Buy yourself some exfoliating gloves, scrub it all off and start again girl.

3. Nails

sns-nails
SNS nails ๐Ÿ™‚

Ah nails, it pains me to say this but ev-e-ry thing counts on that dance floor and sometimes it comes down to the most tiniest of details, especially at the highest level. It may sound super pedantic to say that even our nails need to look groomed but hey, that’s dancing for ya! I really don’t like wearing acrylics, I have done for soooo many years because my natural nails are short, weak and don’t grow so acrylics helped my hands look more lengthened and elegant. But that stuff is really bad for your natural nails. Nowadays I’m trying out SNS which is basically a dipping powder containing 5 different kinds of Vitamins and Calcium which help to create healthier nails underneath. It has no odour, uses no primer and requires no UV light to set. Unlike acrylic and gel it prevents damage to your real nails but feels just as strong and durable. Also unlike shellac, you are still able to have the help of tips initially to get you started with some length until eventually your real nails grow long enough on their own. If you are lucky enough to have long natural nails just make sure they looked manicured and maybe slap a bit of colour on them too!

4. Hair + Makeup

This one is a little bit of an ambiguous topic but there are a few ‘guidelines’ I guess that can be followed. Hair should be sleekย using gel or hairspray to get a smooooth and shiny finish. Big, boofy and loose wedding type hairstyles don’t really hit the mark. The hair should be so tight that when you move your head the hair does not move, any wobbly bits need to be sorted out and there should be absolutely no flyaways! I did a low bun tutorial with my gal Rachel Macintosh a while back linked here where you can kind of get a vibe for just how sleek I mean when I say sleek. I mean like LEGO. Like rock hard. Get it? The ponytail part of the hairstyle should be pulled so tight that you feel like it’s giving you a facelift and any decorative parts and the bun should be pinned in a way that you cannot see the pins. Headpieces can be cool, just make sure they tie into your dress otherwise it can tend to look like a bit of a random after thought.

Makeup should be clear, should bring out your features and should complement your overall look. I like to look at my dress and start to conceptualise a vibe I want to portray and allow the make up to reflect that. For example recently, I’ve been wearing quite a simple, black, timeless and bold looking dress so have tried to also keep my makeup along those lines. I’ve made an emphasis on a porcelain, full coverage base, kept with neutral browns and whites on the eyes paired with some black to give it a bit more edge and a retro 50’s glam red lip to finish. I do often rock this look but that’s what I feel most comfortable in and you do have to also feel your best on that floor too! If I was wearing silver or something more blingy then maybe I would add some glitter and some highlighter etc. So remember, it’s so important to have a clear image of how you want to look because if you aren’t clear enough to portray it, the audience/judges won’t be able to read it.

I hope some of these things helped, I am forever learning new things along the way and that’s whats so great about dancing! It’s always evolving and changing ๐Ÿ™‚ Who knows, maybe one day none of these thing will be important! We might all be dancing around in jeans, with no fake tan and our hair out flying everywhere.. you never know!

Love, Rachelle xx

 

 

 

 

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Ok, so I’m assuming that if you’re looking at this blog post then you are interested in a few sneaky tricks on what to do when your drain is blocked. No? Oh wait sorry, wrong blog! Those tips are for my other website gunmetalgreyplumbing.com (not a real website). You must be here for the Comp Day hacks? Yes? Well, quit farting around and let’s get straight into it then!

If you are a competitive Ballroom Dancer then you would be well aware of those “Comp Day Feels”. They are indescribable feelings that only one dancer to another dancer can relate to. Put simply there’s dry mouth, butterflies in the tummy, hairspray in every orifice, fake tan smell and (many) toilet moments. Too far? Sorry it was I know, but you know it’s true! There is just something about Comp Days that are so different to any other normal day and there really isn’t another way of recreating those vibes to prepare yourself. Some of us can be jittery messes on the dayย and others out there (me most of the time) play it a little too cool, hiding the fact that we are actually scared shitless behind an overly playful exterior. But no matter how we play it, Competition Days are always a massive energy burner not just from the dancing but from all the hype that surrounds it and that’s why I thought of a few pre-comp hacks that will hopefully take a bit of unnecessary stress away.

Firstly, the dress. The hot, crinkly, mess of a dress that has probably been left abandoned since the last time it was used. Now I’m not speaking for everyone out there but my dresses can definitely get on the crinkly side, especially when I have to squeeze two of them into one carry-on suitcase! At the moment my skirts have around 300 layers of material which means ironing out the wrinkles is not an option. But nor has it been for a while if I’m being honest! I’ll get to that in a minute but first I just want to say I’m not a believer in the whole “hang your dress in the bathroom and the steam from the shower will smooth it out” situation. Been there, tried that, set off a fire alarm in my room/the whole Bed n Breakfast and had to apologise endlessly to all the people out the front of the building in their pyjamas afraid of catching on fire. Plus, after all that commotion AND steam, my dress was still no better off! So yeah, I haven’t had much luck with that and I think it’s a bit of a myth really.. but if you’ve had luck with it I envy you! Actually no I don’t, because my hack is all I need ๐Ÿ™‚ I came about this idea a few years ago when I had a dress with its skirt and float’s made out of Lamรฉ material (very expensive, shiny type of material for those of you wondering!). Steve (the professional iron master of the partnership) was beginning to tentatively start ironing the skirt on the lowest setting when all of a sudden, the iron melted the skirt. Not ideal. We put the old hotel iron away and I decided to try to use a hairdryer on it instead and BOOM!! Seeya later wrinkles. It was smoooooth and silky and amazing. This dress had been shipped from England, so she was like,ย reallyย wrinkly. Since then its been something I do on all my dresses and it works an absolute treat. I’ve tried on a variety of materials too, ranging from pearl chiffon to crystal organza and all work fine. The best thing is you can even take the hairdryer to the comp and do any touch ups when you get there! I just recently gave this idea to a World Professional Finalist after I had been watching her struggle for 10 minutes with her steamer trying to work wonders on her floats and she was extremely grateful! We got the job done in no time!

Next up, why don’t you try to pre-make your own isotonic drink the night before? All those unfortunate “feelings” I mentioned previously equate to one dehydrated person! Put a bunch of dancing and sweating on top of that and you will quickly feel like your running out of steam. So it’s important you get those liquids in without pumping yourself full of sugar from pre-made “energy” drinks. Steve is rarely seen in the kitchen but if there is one time when you will find him there it will be on a Comp Day where he will be whipping up a LARGE isotonic drink for us to take to the competition. It really is as simple as:

  • water
  • 2 lemons
  • salt
  • coconut water

Before I start, I’ll just tell you that I don’t have exact measurements for this drink sorry as it’s mostly about playing with the ingredients to find something your taste buds enjoy. Generally we buy a massive bottle of Evian (the biggest), transfer about half the water to our tummy’s or another empty bottle, squeeze in the juice of 2 lemons, bang in a pinch of salt, and then fill up the rest of the bottle with coconut water. Very specific I know ๐Ÿ˜‰ haha. We just try to taste it as we go along and see what it needs more or less of. If we are travelling and don’t have access to all of these ingredients (who wants to buy salt on a weekend away?) then we have a simpler version where we mix fruit juice (I love any mango versions), water and coconut water into a bottle. Not only are they delishhhhh, but they are so much better for you than those sugary lolly drinks! Remember it’s really important to replenish those lost electrolytes!

Finally are a few key items that we always TRY to make sure we pack beforehand so that we aren’t left stumped at the competition.

Nurofen Gel- This stuff is my JAM! It works wonders on inflammation and targeting pain and is quick, easy and scent free! Sorry Deep Heat you may be good but you make my nose bleed. I love using it on my knees if they feel a little niggly after I’ve danced (aarrhhh.. every damn day! haha I kid, I kid. But seriously..) and always keep it close by for quick application on my neck and shoulders incase Tango was a little bit… rough ๐Ÿ˜‰

Safety Pins- An obvious one but it’s crazy the amount of times I’ve had guys come up to me at a Comp scrounging around for pins! That number ain’t going to just magically levitate in positions guys! Pack some spares just incase you or a friend needs them! We usually attach a bunch of them onto Steve’s suit bag as it is literally at every. Single. Competition.

Clear Contact and Scissors- I mean this one is optional I’d say but most guys these days like to cover their paper back numbers in clear contact. This way if there are any unwanted sharp elbows that happen to fly by then your number is covered! It’s a perfect option for those times you have to wear the same number for many rounds or days (Blackpool). The scissors are also handy for those occasions when you get your number and its the size of Australia. Sometimes the back numbers these days are HOOGE so if you can cut around it neatly without chopping off any important info (sponsors/name of the comp) then I’m sure it’s ok ๐Ÿ™‚ Just note that not all comps these days have paper back numbers! Most comps in Australia these days provide numbers that are now made out of material.. so contact isn’t necessary!

I hope some of these hacks help to eliminate some stress on your next Competition Day! But as for those nerves/butterflies.. just pray that they never go away because as long as they are there, it shows that you care! #POET *drops mic and leaves room*

P.S To all my Aussie dancing buddies competing in the Australian Dancesport Championships this weekend; GOOD LUCK! I will see you there or I will see you on a another time ๐Ÿ˜‰

Love, Rachelle

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As you may or may not know, these past few weeks I have been in Ye Olde London town preparing for a rather large competition. This is why my blog posts have been a little erratic and random and for that I’m sorry guys! Don’t hate the player, #hatethegame! The other night I was lucky enough to dance at the Royal Albert Hall in London so I thought I would share a little step-by-step low down of how my makeup goes before a big competition. I generally tend to stick to the same idea every time but every now and then I like to mix up the colours to co-ordinate with my dress.. otherwise I’m more of a natural gal. Guess what, this time wasย no different! Iย wore a canary yellow dress so I decidedย to keep the look quite neutral and maybe throw in a bit of purple to bring out the hazel in my eyes and pair it with a banging red lip. I’ve written it out as a type of step-by-step, get ready with me tutorial so that hopefully you can follow along the dot points with me for those times that you are getting ready for a comp!ย So, let’s get started ๐Ÿ™‚

  • First up it’s time to prime. I already washed and moisturised my face, so I’mย just going to smooth Rimmel Fix and Protect makeup primer all over my face.
  • Once that’s soaked in I apply Estee Lauder Double wear liquid foundation in the colour Ecru all over my face with a damp beauty blender. Full coverage pleaaaase ๐Ÿ™‚
  • I then go in with Maybelline Instant Anti-age The Eraser Eye concealer (what a bloody mouthful of a name!?) in the colour light and apply under my eyes, down the centre of my nose up to my forehead and on my chin. Basically hitting the centre of my face.
  • I blend that out with my beauty blender and then set those ares with Laura Mercier Loose Setting Powder in Translucent.
  • Next up, time to set my WHOLE face. This part is super important I feel as it will really keep your makeup in place when times get tough out there! I apply MAC Studio Fix in C4 all over my face with a fluffy brush trying to hit the outer perimeters of my face more as I want to keep the parts already set with the Laura Mercer powder lighter. Does that make any sense at all?
  • I then bronze up my cheekbones with Bahama mama by The Balm. Awesome product btw, I only just purchased it and I’m in love. It’s not orange at all and the packaging is so cute!! This can be purchased in Target stores in Australia but I bought it here in London at Superdrug.
  • Once my face is pretty much done, I then like to start working on my eyes. I have a very old, very awesome eyeshadow palette by Chacott that I won at a competition in Japan (see palette here) that I pretty much use every dang comp. If you can get your hands on ANYTHING by Chacott I highly recommend it. The brand is built for dancers and the quality of their products is off the chain. Anyway, back to the task at hand! Today I’m applying an orange-y brown to my crease and then joining to the outer corner of my eye. BLEND WELL.
  • Then I like to take a black pencil or eyeliner and carve out a bit of a sideways ‘V’ on the outer corners of my eyes. Don’t worry if this part is rough as it’s just a base!
  • On top of the liner I then apply a dark purple shade from my Chacott palette over the top with a small angle brush. I then go in with a small fluffy brush and blend it all out til smoooooth.
  • I keep adding purple shadow and blending until I’m happy with the depth and then finally go in with MAC Carbon (matte black eyeshadow) and really draw in a strong corner with my angle brush and then DONT BLEND!
  • Once I’ve done enough with the purple shadow I then like to go back in with the brown and make sure the two colours are blended together well and that the brown is still strong.
  • I then take a small brush and fill my inner corner of my eye and brow line with white eyeshadow bringing it down right into the tear duct.
  • Under my eye I did white in the inner corner and lined the dark purple quite close to the lash line and then blended out with the brown shadow underneath that.
  • Next I fill in my waterline with a white eyeliner, I’m using a MaxFactor Kohl Pencil and I then line my eyes with a strong cat eye flick using a black liquid liner.
  • I then like to move on to my brows, if you want to know how and what I do with my brows then click here. Today I’m using a mix of MAC Cranberry and a dark brown eyeshadow from the Dior 609 Earth Reflection palette.
  • Now its time for blush and I’m going for my all time favourite comp colour Dollymix by MAC.
  • For highlighter I’m using Mary-Lou manizer by The Balm and I’m applying on my cheek bones, down the centre of my shnoz and on my cupid’s bow.
  • Falsies time! I’m using an asian brand of falsies today by the brand Dolly Wink and they are the style sweet girly.. too cute!
  • Once the lashes are secure I lather both my real and false lashes with a couple of coats of mascara to blend them together and hold them to one another. Today I’m using Maybelline The Falsies but I like all Maybelline mascara’s actually.
  • Last part is the lips and today I’m wearing a liquid lipstick by The Balm called Devoted. This lipstick drys matte and goes nowhere! Perfect for comps! On top of that I then put on some glittery as hell lip gloss by MIKI that I have no idea where I purchased from.
  • Once finished the perfectionist in me checks my eyes and maybe touches up the liquid liner or fixes up any conundrums with the blending and then BOOM! It’s setting spray time! I give a couple of sprays of Maybelline super stay 24hr Fixative spray and then Bob’s my uncle!

Now its time for the real fun to begin! I’m so sorry I’ve only posted one blog post this week but girl has been biz-zay! Im heading back to Oz this weekend so hopefully things will be back to normal ASAP. Hope you enjoyed this and if you have any questions or queries don’t be shy and leave me some comments ๐Ÿ™‚

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Love, Rachelle xx