Dancing Mama – Reason #2 for pre- & post-natal walking

Winter Pregnancies Before Mat Leave and Vitamin D

So wet, winters, miserable weather and threat of tube strikes doesn’t always inspire a brisk walk after work, and the worry of wanting to get a head start on the home journey before it gets too late doesn’t encourage going to the gym or a dance class after work.

OPTION 1: those usually commuting by train use this time as an excuse to walk between tube stations (if you’re dressed for the rain of course), as it will probably be way quicker than ridiculous queues for the trains when they’re striking.

OPTION 2: I opted to head home to avoid getting home too late, given that I struggled to stay awake past 9pm ATM. I was staying with my great aunt closer to work when I was still working. Limited workout resources at hers meant, to her deep confusion, I’d dig out her food cupboard. Cue food tin video (in my early pregnancy days !)…

I also discovered that unborn babies carried during winter months are more susceptible to low Vitamin D levels when born as expectant mums are less likely to get daylight, especially if working throughout the day – my LO was slightly jaundiced at birth. A lunchtime walk will mean mum (and baby if he/she has arrived) is more likely to top up on the sunshine during daylight hours.  I was fortunate that at least we had quite a fairly dry, sunny winter, so could go for a stroll in the beautiful, hilly Greenwich park during my break time!

Likewise my group walks are now helping our little ones get their daylight time during the winter months.  The temptation is to wrap babies up – but I think, whilst they are in baby carriers and we act like hot water bottles for each other, as long as we regularly make sure babies aren’t cold on their head and it’s not too windy, there is no harm to keep their heads hat-free and let the winter sun kiss their skin for short periods!

Topping Up On Vitamin D


Dancing Mama – Getting Back in the Game

2017 was a BIG year for me in many ways. I gave birth in June. I’ve had a baby (life-changing), and I’ve gone from having lots of endless energy pre-pregnancy to feeling like an 80 year old post pregnancy. Ok, so that’s nature, but here’s my reason for writing: I’m a dancer and dance teacher.

For someone so accustomed of jumping to life when I hear the beat, of throwing myself in the air and then directly flat out to the floor in a contemporary class without a thought, or to sweating it out through high octane jazz dance rehearsals, at 7 months post-natal, that still doesn’t feel so possible. I’ve decided to document my journey from physically wild ‘soloist’ to careful, conscientious vessel carrying a mini passenger, to now: the little one has disembarked, I’ve got her in tow and I am trying to get energy, motivation and routine back.

Where It Began

My first three months of pregnancy felt like a licence to slow down. Shouldn’t I be protecting my foetus from shock by ‘not over-doing it’? The advice from the midwife; if you’re used to a very physical fitness regime then continue until it doesn’t feel comfortable. Week 10, and it didn’t feel comfortable. So early on? Maaan! My effort in my usual high impact all over again body workout contemporary dance class felt half hearted as I became suddenly extremely aware of my core. It felt weak. Well not so much weak but again – like I needed to protect my centre from sudden movement or for example anything involving floor work, bending forward, plank or ‘cobra’ style action.

Christmas arrived…a sedantry stay with parents left me, although thoroughly chilled out, with cabin fever and guilt that I had done nothing for two weeks. Dragging my partner to Kew Gardens in an effort to walk off the Christmas pounds felt good, but nonetheless did not burn fat. They say the blood thickens during pregnancy and the need to keep circulation boosted is ever more important, so I was worried. My legs were restless and I was getting antsy.

So there I was. Jan 2017. 5 month countdown until baby arrives and it was going to get harder. I know; the cliche of new year, new me, new routine, New Years resolutions to try swimming regularly, blah-di-blah – obviously that didn’t last.  Baby-O arrived in June and time to myself was far from my grasp. It would just take some time and independence training for her to be looked after (for her and me!), so I could get to the swimming pool, a dance class, rehearsals or just go to a club dance event.

Me and Baby-O on our weekly walk

Me and Baby-O on our weekly walk

My Solution:

To start a walking ‘network’ to reintroduce my body back to fitness with baby by my side and, in the meantime, practise Baby-O independence, building up again to higher impact training!

I know I will be more motivated if I have a commitment to others, to help me stay focussed, I am going to create a forum over on The Love of Dance Facebook group, aimed at women like me, who are used to physical, powerful fitness regimes, who want to sustain as closely as possible their strength and healthy lifestyle during pregnancy, whilst protecting the growth and wellbeing of the delicate baby cargo, and then to try to recuperate once baby has arrived.

So what now?

In my experience as a dance teacher, alongside that of health and fitness experts, I want to investigate:

  • the most effective and safest fitness plan that can be practically maintained, with the understanding that this will need to adapt to a changing body;
  • different forms and methods of exercise in conjunction, of course, with a healthy diet and mind-set,
  • focussing also on mental and physical preparation for the birth;
  • and look at techniques to manage fitness time with and without baby by my side;
  • all working hand in hand with a holistic journey to a healthy pregnancy helping baby’s development,
  • and ultimately so I can get quickly back into shape post baby popping out!

About Me

I’m writing from the POV of a:

37 year old;

Previously full time office worker with no routine in addition to dance teaching;

I drive;

I have no routine that I can stick to (trust me, I’ve tried. I stick to anything I have a responsibility or incentive to stick to – e.g. Rehearsals for the incentive of chance of performance or where I have to answer to someone if I don’t turn up…or where I’ve paid for the course. Fickle right?!);

My aerobic training mostly used to happen at music events – mostly house music or jazz fusion events happening in the early weekend evenings. Most attendees go to these events to dance AND SWEAT IT OUT ON THE DANCEFLOOR, not to drink. Perfect for happy feel good vibes, getting a workout without really noticing, and doubly perfect if you’re preggers…but not so perfect for baby’s sensitive ears…so what’s next to get my workout fix?

 

Here we go!

First Wedding Dance Styles | Summary

First Dance Styles in a nutshell…
Here’s an easy reference summary of our first dance styles series for you to click on and review.
If you’d like to  have an initial conversation about your dance, or book a dance consultation with one of our experienced teachers.

Visit our Contact Us page for more information.

Happy First Dance planning!

We leave you with a clip of Caroline and Tim’s First dance – a Foxtrot…


First Wedding Dance Styles | Freestyle Dance

…and all the Dance Styles in between.

This is our Wild Card Style day celebrating the first wedding dances that are a bit ‘left of centre’. The Wedding Dance YouTube videos have given rise to the phenomena of more adventurous couples wanting something a little less traditional. The Love of Dance’s teachers have massive experience in choreographing, performing and teaching in many styles of dance beyond Latin and Ballroom – we know no boundaries!

Freestyle Dance / Non-traditional First Dances

This is where your first dance gets exciting and has the potential to really thrill your guests. A fun, novelty statement routine could incorporate dance styles such as street dance or musical theatre styles – jazz or tap dance perhaps?  Or why not re-enact a famous dance scene from your favourite film, musical or music video. Don’t worry – you can still keep the romance – how about bringing a touch of Hollywood glam – think Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire!
John and Hannah wanted a medley of songs and they really went for it.  They started with the Dirty Dancing routine, into MC Hammer’s Can’t Touch This, finishing with Black Eyed Peas I Got A Feeling.  It entertained us teachers for sure – imagine how their guests responded!
You bring the music you like, whether one or multiple songs, and we’ll fit the movements to it, according to your requirements. At least within the scope of what the wedding dress will allow!
 
Event Entertainment - 50th Birthday Party

Event Entertainment – 50th Birthday Party

Freestyle Partner Dance

We’ve all had the fling around the dancefloor with a friend, partner or family member to mimic partner dance steps seen done by the pros.  These are moves we throw into routines to give them a bit of wow factor, which don’t necessarily follow footwork patterns of the structured social dances, but are used to fit the music.  After all – you’re won’t be competing for the world finals (not quite yet).  The rules are there to be broken as far as your first dance is concerned!

Dance for All!

Our favourite routines involve the bridesmaids and groomsmen…or as a surprise to the couple perhaps the guests could join in flash mob style!
To finish our week of The Love of Dance styles, although not strictly a wedding event here is a routine we choreographed for a 50th birthday party to give an idea of what we can achieve with you.  The client here commissioned us to produce a routine with professional dancers to his chosen song – we fulfilled the brief and then some.  Unbeknownst to him we taught his closest friends the routine too and they jumped in halfway through the song.  They’ll had lots of fun learning the dance – and the birthday boy? He loved it.

First Wedding Dance Styles | Jive & Swing

Get the Wedding Party Started with a Swing

Swing dance styles are the more fun, vivacious dance styles to suit more up-tempo tracks – great first wedding dances to to get the party started.  There are many types of Swing Dance, including Lindy Hop, Charleston, Jive and Rock N Roll created in the 1920s-50s to accompany swing style jazz music.
The Love of Dance Jive Dance Party

Heres a throwback photo to one of our jive parties we taught at for a regular social dinner and dance!

Jive for example is classed as one of the international latin styles of dance.  It came from the US in the 1930s and has a bit of a retro vibe about it.  Your first dance song doesn’t have to be from these eras – here are some songs that we think perfectly fit Jive and Swing dance:
  • Happy – Pharrell
  • Uptown Funk – Mark Ronson feat. Bruno Mars
  • Candy Man – Christine Aguilera
  • Sing Sing Sing – Benny Goodman
  • Do Your Thing – Basement Jaxx
Social Jive Dance basic steps consist of two slow steps on the spot and then a ‘quick quick’ rock back and forward. These styles don’t travel around a dance floor, although the size and energy of movements that can go towards the spins and sometimes jumps and lifts (for those feeling really adventurous!) can really eat up the space.  The steps should be light and bouncy and the upper body is free and responds to the usually jazzy and lively music with an air of showmanship and lots of smiles!
We’re not just about weddings. TLOD has also taught Jive and Swing dance parties for many occasions such as birthdays and commercial party events. Taster sessions in any dance style are a fun way to help guests get up to their feet and onto the dance floor. Your guests get mingling whilst learning some basic steps too – well we don’t want them feeling left out of the dancing action!

First Wedding Dance Styles | Salsa & Rumba

Bring Your Sauce to the Dancefloor with the Latino styles

Salsa
If you want to bring a bit of sauce to your first dance or maybe your first dance song has a bit of latino flavour, Salsa is a good style to throw some dynamic moves into your routine.  Originally from Cuba with African and Spanish influences, and developed further in South America and New York too, this dance style is sure to bring a bit of fiesta to your day.  A style of dance that can also transfer to many dance floors together, once you have some basics under your belts.  Salsa can be entirely spiced up with the full on latino hip swank, it can be fun and energetic, sensual, or tamed down according to your preference to become a stylish first dance.  There are many different types of Salsa, depending on the country or region of origin – e.g. Cuban or New York cross body style.  Your teacher may specialise in one, two or many styles thus influencing the footwork and floor patterns you will learn.
First Wedding Dance

Dan & Jo. Photo (c) Kirstin Prisk

Songs to suit Salsa:
  • If You Had My Love – Jennifer Lopez
  • Fly Me to The Moon – search the salsa version on Youtube
  • Suavamente – Elvis Crespo
  • Sway (There are many versions of the Dean Martin original.  Bublé does a cha-cha version. Have a search on Youtube for the many different versions.)
  • Have a listen to the Buena Vista Social Club album.
Quite often you may find Salsa covers of popular songs – worth a search through YouTube for the options!
 
Rumba
Just like Salsa, Rumba has flexibility to be as camped up Strictly Come Dancing/competition style or smoothed out to be a little more relaxed.  A little more intimate style than salsa, Rumba suits many modern popular and jazz standard songs on the 4/4 tempo, with a prolonged, slow first step and two percussive quick steps.  The song doesn’t necessarily have to have latino flavour.
Some of our favourite song examples that suit the Rumba are:
  • Can’t Take My Eyes off You – Andy Williams/Franki Valli
  • At Last – Etta James
  • The Way You Make Me Feel – Michael Jackson
  • My Baby Just Cares for Me – Nina Simone
Here’s Amie and Alex’s First Dance using the Rumba footwork.  Watch out for the sustained first two beats to the bar.


First Wedding Dance Styles | Waltz

As part of our daily guide helping you choose your First Wedding Dance style, will it be a Wedding Day Waltz?

Originating from Germany, the characteristic flowing rise and fall of the Waltz offers an ethereal, graceful quality when bride and groom dance in their wedding day finery.  Another of the more classic, romantic and formal styles of ballroom, which will suit songs that are counted in a 3/4 time signature. Three beats to the bar means three steps in a basic Waltz footwork pattern.

Body Control

Couples dance in closed hold and you’ll see from the video example below the man/the lead have a strong, proud air to their poise, remaining lifted in the chest, whilst the woman/the follower may arch backwards.  There is minimal movement to the upper body, aside from the dancers’ upper body leaning slightly to follow the turn of the head towards the left or right shoulder.

First Dance Lesson (c) Mike Edwards

Travelling Patterns

Social Waltz steps usually travel anti-clockwise around the dance floor, and in a ballroom with many other partners dancing, couples will move to the centre of the floor to perform steps on the spot.  The usual rules of course can be stretched for your first wedding dance, so that the floor patterns can travel in any direction, or that posture can be more relaxed.

The Music

There are different types of Waltz dance, as there are many forms of the music.  Traditionally classical composers such as Strauss, Chopin and Brahms wrote Waltz scores, and now more modern popular songs using the 3/4 time signature can also be danced to, such as;
  • Come Away With Me – Nora Jones
  • Kissing You – Des’ree
  • Kiss From A Rose – Seal
  • If I Ain’t Got You – Alicia Keys
Here’s a beautiful Waltz from a Strictly Come Dancing moment, performed to Des’ree’s Kissing You.  Just like something out of a fairytale.


First Wedding Dance Styles | Foxtrot

Over the coming week we’re releasing a First Wedding Dance style per day as part of our guide to helping to choose a style for you. Today we’re looking at Foxtrot!

Foxtrot is quite a common wedding dance style – a classic, romantic and smooth ballroom dance, couples can take their time and feel confident on the dance floor.  Some types of Foxtrot can be a little more up-tempo depending on the song.  Think ladies gliding around in their beautiful ball gowns, led by dapper gents in their coats and tails.  Classy.

Karina and Theo wanted to dance to John Legend’s All Of You.  They didn’t want anything too adventurous, just needing some dance lessons for some pointers on the floor.  The song is nice and relaxed at a gentle 4/4 tempo.  They had some basic social Slow Foxtrot dance lessons and a simple structured routine using just the basic steps and a few ‘generic partner moves’ (see below) that allowed them to move calmly around the floor, whilst having a little flourish of moves to offer those photo worthy moments; opening out toward the audience and finishing with a classic dip (groom leans bride backwards).  They looked so chilled during their routine which meant they could just really enjoy the moment. Watch Karina and Theo here:

Other songs to suit Foxtrot:
Wonderful Tonight – Eric Clapton
Here Comes The Sun – Nina Simone
You & I (Nobody In The World) – John Legend
The Way you Look Tonight – Frank Sinatra
Let There Be Love – Nat King Cole

 

Perfect First Wedding Dance Practice

Caroline & Tim’s First Wedding Dance (c) Jackson & Co Photography 2015


First Wedding Dances Styles

You know you want to learn a routine or have dance lessons for your First Wedding Dance, and may even have played out how the first dance might look in your heads.  The many viral wedding dance videos may have been inspiration for your daydreams – but which style of dance should you choose?  Over the coming week we’ll release a dance style per day as part of our guide to helping you decide.

A guide to choosing your First Wedding Dance Style

First Dance Styles

The Song

You probably know which song you’d like to dance to on your special day.  Without dance lessons or prior preparation, the gentle sway from side to side may be some couples’ natural go-to groove for the more traditional slow song, or for something more up tempo, a fun ‘we’re in the disco style’ bop might do.

For something a little more memorable however, to either give yourselves a bit of a confidence boost on the day, or to give your guests something to talk about, a little choreography (let’s call it a structured routine if that sounds scary), or dance lessons in a style that suits your song could be for you.

The Style

Your The Love Of Dance teacher is more likely to teach you the ‘social’ style of dance forms rather than the formal, more structured competition style.  You may see variations in footwork in comparison to styles of dance you see on tv as there are quite often different variations of each type, so don’t worry if your style doesn’t look exactly like you’ve seen on TV dance competitions etc.  We aim however to leave you with a good foundation in your style for you to carry with you forever more!

Style and Music in Harmony

The Love of Dance teachers will work with you and your choice of song/s to find a style of dance that works with the music.  I say either ‘song’ or ‘songs’, as you may either be stuck on which song of many to choose from, in which case a consultation with us will demonstrate and allow you to try a few dance styles to suss out what you feel comfortable with, or you may want a medley of songs, so your teacher may suggest you have a little mash-up of dance styles to create a really impressive routine!  Your teacher will also get to know you and help to create the bespoke routine unique to your personalities, abilities and initial visions you may have.

…but we don’t have a Song?

You may even have the style of dance in mind, but not a clue of a suitable song to go with your style.  We can advise here too, giving you some songs to listen to if need be. There are many websites giving First Dance Song inspiration – just have a google search and see what comes up.

Live Entertainment

You may have a live wedding band and you could talk to them about performing the first dance song for you.  Make sure you give them the same version of the song you’ve got in mind so they play the right arrangement as you are unlikely to get a rehearsal with them. The Love of Dance can also provide live music to suit a desired theme or musical taste, taking the hassle out of finding music yourselves. Visit our Event Entertainment Page for more info and contact us to discuss.

Discounts and Giveaway Competition!!

It’s founder Alison’s birthday on Saturday 19th August.  To celebrate TLOD is offering a 20% discount to anyone who books their First Dance Lessons, Hen Party or Event Entertainment before 30th September 2017 and mentions “TLOD Birthday”.
We’re also doing a competition. To be in with a chance of winning a first dance lesson follow these instructions:
  1. Follow The Love of Dance on on Facebook, Twitter and/or Instagram;
  2. Comment that you would like to enter (email alison@theloveofdance.co.uk if you don’t have social media);
  3. Tag or email the blog to anyone you know getting married (even if they’re not engaged yet!);
  4. Ask your friends to do the same; and
  5. We’ll announce the winner on Alison’s birthday!

This competition is running on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram – so you may increase your chances of winning if you share through as many routes as possible!

 

 


Tips to Feel Fit and Fab for your Wedding

The way that our busy lives go these days, sitting at a desk Monday to Friday 40 hours a week or so is the norm for many, and is a recipe for creating bad habits that can stick for a lifetime.

During your first wedding dance you may want to achieve a statuesque posture as you glide around the floor. You may already be blessed with this, but if you wish to improve your posture, here are some tips for how to strengthen your alignment through your fitness regime. These fitness activities are popular with the pro dancers and will perfectly accompany and compliment your The Love of Dance first dance lessons.

Personal training – your personal trainer will advise you on exercises that will focus on strengthening and training the muscles in direct reference to the dance lessons. Try TRX Suspension training – it’s a bit hardcore, but suspending yourself from specially designed ropes, using your body weight to create the resistance works a treat for creating tone and definition, rather than bulk. Iona from Train Heal Breathe (THB) is a great outdoor fitness instructor based in London who tailors your programme to your requirements.

Check out the Special Offer with THB!

Check out the Special Offer with THB!

 

>Special Offer: We’ve teamed up with Train Heal Breathe who are offering 15% off personal training to The Love of Dance clients (see below for info!*).<<

 

 

Train Heal Breathe: PT for men and women

Train Heal Breathe: PT for men and women

 

Yoga or Pilates  – strengthens the muscles in the back, focuses on posture and also helps with the vital relaxation and breathing you may wish to practice in advance of, and on, the big day. Also good for brain training to help with coordination on the dance floor!

Swimming – excellent for strengthening the arm and back muscles to draw the shoulder blades down the back. Try some Aqua-aerobics too. Even if it’s not a class, you can create your own exercises in the pool. Treading water and moving your arms with the same action as if using weights offers effective toning to all areas of the body, especially if you can use floats and woggles (the tube shaped floats) too.

General dance classes – obviously! Your gym might offer a street class or many community centres offer classes in lot of styles, and most dance styles focus on strength of posture.

Alexander Technique – use this in conjunction with your fitness programme. Helps you to identify and correct bad habits like slouching, or to improve your technique in virtually anything you want to master!! Here’s a summary about Alexander Technique Summary and help to find certified teachers here.

 

Get the right fitness programme for you and maybe a bit of advice from an expert in each field about a programme to help you achieve your goals. Maybe consider getting your friends/bridesmaids/spouse etc involved, to make your sessions more enjoyable with a bit of bonding whilst your at it. You CAN have fun whilst getting fit. If you feel great in yourself you’re going to feel even better in front of your guests!

Work out with friends for more fun & to make sessions with THB even cheaper!

Work out with friends for more fun & to make sessions with THB even cheaper!

 

*Train Heal Breathe SPECIAL OFFER: 15% off Personal Training for TLOD clients! Just £34 per 60 min session when you buy ten. Usually £400 for 10 x 60 min sessions now just £340. Get a small group together and you will reduce the cost per person even further. Contact Iona for more info on Facebook, or visit her website here.

 

If you’ve got any injuries or physical health problems make sure you seek advice from a physician or an expert about your fitness regime before you try any new physical activity.