Dress for Success – An Interview with Donna Hamza

Let’s say you go to the doctor. Your doctor walks in with a ratty t-shirt, shorts, and flipflops.

Are you going to trust his opinion? Probably not. How you present yourself is important. In a way, the ballroom gown or suit is almost like a work uniform – designed to send a clear message of your skills and who you are. Donna Hamza explains why her dancers presenting themselves with confidence is the most important part of her work (her dresses are fabulously beautiful as well as you can see here,) in this interview.

This is why the most important part of your gown is presenting yourself well. To dress for success means to show your passion, magnifying the best parts of you. As a performer, there is nothing more important.

Appearance is about impression, not beauty.

This might sound strange coming from the ballroom community. You’ll always see dancers in sparkly dresses, heavy makeup, and spectacularly styled hair. These things are expected, particularly for a professional star.

Like any other community closely involved with the beauty industry, it is competitive about appearances, to say the least. It can be easy to be swallowed up in the midst of perfect bodies, tans, slicked back hair and dresses that fit a princess. However, try not to not lose yourself in the endless spiral that is “self improvement”.  The gowns should be primarily a form a self expression, rather than a way to compare yourself to others depending on how much skin you’re showing, or how tight your dress is.

Donna Hamza shows us that charisma and personality has no weight, no height, no skin color.

Wearing ballroom couture, as Donna Hamza states, should suit you. She even goes as far to replace her handmade dresses if she feels it does not suit the dancer because it is that important to represent the person wearing the dress. We all love to play dress up and enjoy the glamour of the ballroom (and who wouldn’t?!) but you are your own best asset as a performer.

 

Check out Dance Teacher’s Academy for more great interviews: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC5aPyxJTNF7ySw6EmpRak-g/videos

Check out Donna Hamza’s online boutique here: http://donnainc.net/

When To Say Enough Is Enough – An Interview with Maria Hansen

The only thing standing between you and winning is yourself.

Many of us can relate to Maria’s experience as a new dancer. When you are a new dancer, you are completely open to learning and often see the teachers or dance partners around you as superior in every way. You want to learn everything correctly from the very beginning. You take everything to heart. If you are not careful, however, you may be manipulated by a short tempered, demanding, and degrading dance partner. It can be especially confusing if they are not always so unpredictable. You will feel like you are starting to get the hang of it until they snap at you again. This adds to your self doubt in which you listen even harder the next time.

Passion is always authentic.

Humility and open mindedness is certainly important in a new student, but tolerating disrespect is not. A person’s skill level and experience should never be an indication of the respect and patience that person deserves. Decide that being berated is beneath you. You deserve patience, to be able to make mistakes freely, and praise. With an encouraging partner, you are more likely to enjoy dancing, and in turn pursue it passionately! Passion is always authentic and can’t be forced or faked.

“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

Then, with this newfound determination and passion, you can focus on the important part of competing: improvement.  Of course, winning always feels good. It makes others envious and validates the long hours you invested into something tangible that others can see and respect. However, you can only win by persistently and ruthlessly improving. The only thing standing between you and winning is yourself. It’s your need to improve, to know and stand up for yourself, and the need to work well with your partner. Not one other person on the dance floor can take that away or give that to you.

Once you build up a sense of confidence from improving yourself and knowing yourself well, you will know when to accept a harsh critique… and when not to!

How To Build Self Confidence: An Interview With Toni Redpath


“What separates artists from ex-artists is that those who challenge their fears, continue; those who don’t, quit. Each step in the artmaking process puts that issue to the test.”  – David Bayles

In addition to this wonderful interview of Toni Redpath by Dance Teachers Academy Podcasts, we thought we would throw in a few extra notes for our dancers – whether a beginner who is learning how to present themselves, or an experienced dancer struggling with their confidence.

When you see your role model doing what you wish you could, you have three options on how to view that person in relation to yourself:

  1. The most popular reaction is, “I’ll never be able to do that!” This view provides low sense of capability for yourself and an untouchable and unattainable talent toward your role model. This viewpoint provides nothing but paralysis and harmful self-criticism.
  2. Looking at the role model and saying “I’m better than him/her, he/she just doesn’t know it yet.” This fist-shaking view provides a superiority complex bred of insecurity for you, and dismissal of true value and skill of your role model. While this viewpoint does not lack confidence that is needed to be successful, you will likely feel above learning the building blocks of skills that will allow you to be technically correct in dance. This can cause you to have the reputation of a know-it-all with, realistically, very little knowledge.
  3. The healthiest view, which is “How can I do that?” Not only does it give you an honest view of yourself, of all your successes and your shortcomings, it gives you a realistic goal to meet.

Only with the “How can I do that?” view can you improve. We know, it sounds cheesy. Are you surrounded with knowledgeable, kind people who are honest with you? Do they build you up when you do something correct and offer you solutions when you’re wrong? Do you recognize your mistakes and congratulate yourself on your success?  If you find yourself unable to view yourself as successful, consider what kind of criticism you’re accepting. Be kind to yourself and choose your company carefully. Dancing is supposed to be technically correct, but also FUN!