Written by Pat Grace Friday, 29 April 2011 00:00A dance studio was installed several weeks ago, but Josephine Perrotta has operated a business in Manhasset, on and off, for years. Stopped at the light at Northern Boulevard and Plandome Road, captive motorists curiously study the ball gowns in the window of Acre Couture, 69 Plandome Road.
Dancing and ball gowns are joined at the hip, but it wasn’t until designer Perrotta was asked to design an outfit for a ballroom dancer that she saw the possibility of a successful pairing. Her friend, dancer Patty Banibianco, was unable to find a gown to her liking and accompanied Ms. Perrotta to an Arthur Murray event to introduce her to the type of apparel dancers wear in competition.
Josephine Perrotta, born in the Philippines, had inherited a clothing business from her parents, has innate design ability and her husband, after asking if this is what she really wanted to do, encouraged her to expand upon her knowledge and attend Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT).
But individuals have different learning styles. She did not stay long at FIT, preferring instead, at the suggestion of her dance friend, (“How do you design for dancers if you don’t know how to dance?”) to take dancing lessons from Michael Rodriquez, eventually competing herself in order to learn how the body moves, how the dress must fit the dancer and to familiarize herself with the type dresses required for specific dances.
Josephine’s husband, Edward Perrotta, worked for Cantor Fitzgerald and lost his life in the Twin Towers on Sept. 11, 2001. They had dated for 3 years and been married for four months. He had counseled her that if she wanted to be an even better designer to go to school. “He was my inspiration,” she said, “I keep my business for him.”
Because she had the experience of dancing and competing herself, Perrotta explained she understands wearing a beautiful gown in competition makes you feel so special, so proud of yourself “even if the steps aren’t right.”
Perrotta is running a “Keep Dancing Party” at the Astoria World Manor on May 1 from 1:30 to 7 p.m. for $65 with dinner and an open bar. According to Perrotta, a song lasts approximately three minutes, and at the event there are scheduled about three occasions when ballroom dancers take to the floor gliding in gowns of her design for “half a song.” The dancers will showcase her ball gowns, as Josephine expressed it succinctly, “they will be dancing the dress.” Just a different type of catwalk.
The dance will draw a crowd of well over 100, Perrotta said, and dancers range in age from 7 to 78. Instead of going to bars, she continued, young girls can dance competitively and be winners. Dancing is, she added, so much fun and very good exercise.
Now that the lovely, spacious dance studio is finished, Ms. Perrotta has dance instructors lined up to give private and soon, group lessons.
There are off the rack dresses in her store but many of her gowns are customized and range in price from $800 to $5,000, but a practice outfit can be had starting at $200. Perrotta also designs wedding gowns and mother-of-the-bride outfits. The cost generally begins at $800 and can quickly escalate depending on the amount of Swarovski crystals or rhinestones in the design.
For information on ball gowns, dance lessons or the party call 516-729-2300 or visit www.acreballroom.com.