When I was going to compete in my first competition back in 2008 I needed a dress. My then instructor, Matt, took me to see Julia Gorchakova because besides being American Rhythm Champion with Bob Powers 12 times (see why below)
she is also a ballroom dress designer. As you can imagine, I couldn’t buy something off the rack at my size so needed to have a dress made for me.
You can see some of Julia’s designs here: http://artistryinmotiondesigns.com/
I didn’t know the first thing about a ballroom dress except that I needed one to do the competition. I was like, Julia, do whatever you want. Yeah, red and black would be great.
She did her best to emphasize my good parts and minimize the bad and the picture above is the dress she created for me.
Little did I know that this dress would have a life of its own – a purpose greater than I could imagine.
I thought I’d just wear it until I lost enough weight to get another amazing dress. So far she has been with me for 3 competitions and will most likely be adorning me for a few more this year.
But first, it will adorn another dancer in March!
This dress, let’s christen her “Bertha,” well she traveled across the country this week to visit my friend Ellen, who I met through the blog.
Ellen was pretty happy to see her. When Bertha arrived, Ellen wrote to me:
The dress arrived today!! It is AMAZING!! Soooo beautiful I can’t begin to say – and ….. It fits!!
I LOVE that you have a full bra in it! I laughed and thought – a girl after my own heart! Seriously – it fits very comfortably. I’m attaching photos I took of myself with my sneakers on – I literally ran when the mailman got here – grabbed the box and tried it on ( sorry –I look like a mess!) but I was soooo happy when it fit!!
I also have a “necklace” or hairpiece that matches perfectly (looks light in the pic but the color is actually a perfect match!) – I will send it back to you with the dress – it belongs with it!
Thank you soooooo much!! I am thrilled!!
Well, this made my day. Here’s what I wrote back:
I told my husband about how you got the package and ran to try on the dress and took pictures of it with sneakers on because you were so excited about it. PRICELESS! I just think that is SO cool…and what I’m trying to express (if not eloquently) is that others in my life think it is so great that you will be wearing my/the dress. I especially want to tell Julia (she is who made my dress) about this turn of events. I never imagined that the purpose of my dress would extend beyond me wearing it. Now that you will be dancing in it…well…I just think that is so very amazing!!!! I can almost palpably feel how good you will feel to be dancing in it.. Doing the waltz, you dress will be sparkling under the lights, your leg action will be highlighted by a red chiffon skirt…..Well, that’s how I see it in my head. I just think you are darling and deserve the very, very best. I’m ecstatic that my dress might slightly enhance your own natural beauty, strength, and grace. Just so cool.
Ellen wrote back:
Aw Stef –
Thanks! I am so touched that you feel good about sharing your dress! It is beautiful and I was so thrilled when it fit!
I am fine with you telling people who I am – it’s absolutely ok with me –I don’t get embarrassed by much! Well, maybe if you were a really good-looking guy… then I’d become either an idiot, a 12-year-old girl and feel like I couldn’t have a normal conversation, or a really great coach ( nice security to keep someone from seeing you as anything else!) but that’s usually it.
I mean even when I go to a social dance someplace I don’t know –and someone asks me to dance – I used to get flustered and freaked out because I suck at following. Plus I dance mostly International, which isn’t social, so I don’t know many social steps, and I am not a “natural” dancer! It used to freak me out and I would sit in a corner almost and be embarrassed. But something hit me last year – maybe it was turning 50 or maybe I was just tired of putting energy into silly things – and I decided “who cares!?” I mean, seriously… who really cares if I screw up a dance or don’t know the steps or can’t keep up or whatever? It’s one dance. If they don’t like how I dance they don’t have to ask me again – and one dance isn’t a lot out of someone’s lifetime – they’ll survive having danced with someone at my level. As long as I can try, and have fun doing it – then screw it! So I am giving up what other people think of me. Frankly – all the things I worry about what other people think of me – what I wore, what I said, what I did, if I ask any one of those people about one of the events or days 7 days later (often even 1 day later) they don’t even remember what I did!! So I worried and stressed over which outfit, or missing a step, or the right words, or whatever, and the only one it matters to is me. So I am choosing not to worry any more – ok it all sounds great – but I know I am human and will still care – but this is my intention!
I’m so excited that you know Julia! She is awesome – a beautiful dancer and dressmaker. I did not realize that she had made your dress; of course it is incredible!! It is sooooo beautiful.
Well, yes she did, and yes, Bertha is beautiful.
Ellen has promised me more pictures and a blog post. She’s going to take the dress to her lesson on Thursday to show her pro. I can hardly wait to hear all about it. I love that Ellen is choosing to “live out loud” and that part of that will be to wear this dress, that Julia made, so many years ago.
The story continues and I can’t hardly wait to see what happens next!