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Tuesday, February 26, 2013

2013 Indiana Challenge: Glamour, Showmanship & Pageantry

I'm a social dancer not a competitor. That said, when I heard about the Indiana Challenge, a premier ballroom event, I was compelled to go. I wanted to see the people who have dedicated so much time, energy, and resources to dance. I went on Saturday night for the Pro/Am (professionals with amateurs) and professional dance performances. Knowing a little about the types of dance, I was eager to see the professionals in action. I was expecting the elegant ballroom I watched on TV when I was a kid. 

All of the competitors and performers were talented professionals. Their movements were fluid as they danced across the floor. It was well controlled and perfectly synchronized with the music. They were good at all the styles in which they chose to compete. Knowing they were great dancers, it was hard not to look past that and focus on the performers themselves. Honestly, their costumes and movements kept shifting my focus from the dance making it hard to pay attention to their steps. 

They were in costumes, not dresses, frocks, or gowns. The attire ranged from Orion slave girl to a very revealing Grace Kelly. The hair flowed, was arranged in shiny buns, or in some cases was pulled up to resemble the horn of a mythical beast. There were sequins, feathers, cleavage, and cracks galore. I was blinded by metallic sheen and sequin sparkle. I spotted flamingos and Big Bird (in color and feather). I studied thick red chokers with rope down the front and back, fringed bottoms, and elastic side straps. Costumes were sheer with nude colors. It was like S&M mixed with Sesame Street. One woman was so eye catching I didn't notice her partner fully clad in reflective gold sequins until the third set. She had a partner?

They were the artists and the art.

They wore their facial expressions like they wore their make-up, costumes, and hair. A wink for the judge. A forced smile for the camera. A raised eyebrow for the crowd. 

The dance and music were as eclectic as the visual styles. The dancers could go from gliding to gyrating in a matter of a beat. Salsa, Waltz, Paso Doble, and Jive, a full range in the same competition. Classic Tango turned to a techno beat. Some had narrative intros that spawned full stories in my creative mind. They were stories of love, death, and kittens.

It was a good time. Would I ever want to compete? No. Will I be a spectator? Always. It was a full-scale Vegas revue, and I had a front row seat. Next time I'll try to catch some of the amateur competitions for a more balanced view, and of course to cheer on some of the talented students from Premiere Dance Studio.

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