Saturday, Aug. 17, 2013 | 2 a.m.
Hundreds of dancers descend on Green Valley Ranch Resort this weekend for the Nevada Star Ball, one of the premier ballroom dance championships in the world.
The event will host more than 4,000 entries from pros and amateurs of all ages to compete for world titles in categories ranging from Latin to International Standard to Waltz.
Grace, talent and exhaustive practice are requirements for keeping up in the fiercely competitive world of dance, but it takes more than proper posture and rhythm to take home top titles. Ballroom is about overall presentation, and from the bedazzled fringe of a short salsa dress to the flowing ruffles of a waltz gown, the right dress can be essential to giving a performance that extra flair to impress the judges.
“Every detail has a purpose — you have to shine and pop. It’s about movement and confidence,” said Kristy Rivers, a professional dancer and sales consultant for ballroom couturier Dore Designs.
Dore is one of ballroom’s top couturiers, and one of several selling both custom and pre-made designs on sparkling, rainbow-hued racks at the competition.
The company makes more than 1,000 unique ballroom and evening gowns a year and sponsors 42 professional dance couples; other clients include Olympic ice dancers and the stars of “So You Think You Can Dance.”
With Swarovski crystals, delicate beading and hand-painted designs adorning the surface of the gowns, the pieces may look delicate, but are built to be as sturdy as an athlete’s uniform, with a built-in swimsuit-like bodysuit hidden underneath each design to provide maximum support and comfort. They can even be put through the washing machine.
Some dancers can buy designs off the rack, but many opt to have dresses custom made for a look that both flatters and supports as their bodies kick, bend and twirl. After filling out measurement sheets as thorough as doctors' patient history forms, clients select the details of their outfits from a thick swatch book offering myriad fabrics, colors and embellishments.
Of course, quality and durability come at a price, and the designs can take up to 10 weeks to make. A new Latin dance dress, with a design that boasts little more fabric than a bikini, costs close to $4,000. A full white ballroom gown with hand-painted 3D flower petals encrusted in Swarovski crystals sold for $8,500.
“It’s more money, but it’s like you’re buying a work of art,” Rivers said. “When you put it on, you feel that much more special. You walk out on the floor and you know you’re not like anyone else, and sometimes that’s all it takes to win.”