First Wedding Dance Synchronicity

Can we just take a moment here to appreciate how amazing Ben and Rachel are? They came to The Love Of Dance having had no dance lessons ever, nor had ever danced together in a structured way. They started their first wedding dance lessons a little later in the wedding planning timeline very close to their wedding due to unfortunate circumstances of Rachel breaking her arm. I don’t usually encourage starting so late. Some couples can get disheartened when they don’t make much progress in a short space of time, panic because there isn’t much practise time, ultimately don’t feel prepared confident as the wedding is approaching and can end up worrying about the first dance. I wanted to help Rachel and Ben as they would have started earlier if it hadn’t been for Rachel’s injury and within a space of 9 hours over two weeks they learnt a basic slow waltz. 

Mr & Mrs Fernandez | First Wedding Dance Synchronicity
Mr & Mrs Fernandez | First Wedding Dance Synchronicity


Some people underestimate what is involved in learning a social ballroom dance. The idea of social dances is couples dance together often at a ballroom/dance club etc. without choreographed formations – unless maybe, in some styles, sequences learnt through a syllabus or dance school. They are able to lead someone they’ve not danced with before, through internationally understood leading signals – pretty clever really! The footwork may look simple, some may say repetitive, but for the lead dancer (in this case Ben) to take control, guiding a partner around the floor, usually takes quite some practise and skill: 

💃🏻Thinking ahead to the next move;

🕺Giving the correct lead signal to the partner so they know where they are going in good time to be on the correct foot with their weight in the right place;

💃🏻Listening to the music to change the footwork and add in flourishes to make the dance interesting to watch;

🕺The following partner has to switch into trust, responsive mode, allowing the lead to guide around the floor without interfering – this can take practise in itself!;

💃🏻Oh – and also making sure they’re keeping the hold in the correct position to make sure they don’t step on each others’ toes!


There’s a lot going on with each step huh?!


Ben and Rachel’s final practice couldn’t have been more perfect, even with its imperfections.

 
💃🏻They made the most of the time we had together in their lessons.

🕺They jumped straight in and were 100% dedicated to learning.

💃🏻They practised over and over.

🕺They listened to the music to get to know their song inside and out.

💃🏻They weren’t fazed if there were any little hiccups; Ben picked up the steps again and Rachel responded!


Textbook students!


Maybe it wasn’t down to my teaching and it was pure coincidence that these two moved so naturally together, but what we ended up with was a relaxed waltz which was so beautiful to watch, with a little simple choreographed intro to the dance…and then they were OFF – with Ben leading and Rachel had NO IDEA what moves he was going to pull out the bag!! 


One word just kept recurring over and over in my feedback to them during the lessons. They danced and moved so naturally together. Whether it’s a result of how this couple have grown together over the last 10 years, knowing each other inside and out, bringing them to this point of marriage; whether it’s that it was mapped in the stars, they were destined to dance together; I feel privileged to help them realise this destiny, bringing them closer together through their First Dance Lessons. 


The word was simply: Synchronicity. 

Just Magical. Thanks Universe.


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 | 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 | 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.

 


Perfect Practice from Caroline & Tim

Continuing our theme of Practice Makes Permanent this month, meet Caroline and Tim.

They started their first wedding dance months in advance of their wedding, and practised regularly.  We held their final dance lesson in their wedding venue – The Priory Barn in Little Wymondley. We recommend this final practice in the wedding venue to all couples.  The floor wasn’t very gracious – uneven flagstones, but you wouldn’t expect anything less from a beautiful, 16th c. barn, and this helped them to familiarise themselves with the geography(!) of the floor.

The extra practice paid off, and the result was an elegant, effortless first wedding dance. Congratulations to you both!

Perfect First Dance Practice

Caroline & Tim (c) Jackson & Co Photography 2015

Perfect First Wedding Dance Practice

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


Practice Makes Permanent

First Wedding Dance Practice

Plan your first wedding dance in advance

I’m a glass half full kind of person, so to put a twist on the age old saying this is my version:

Succeed in your planning and plan for success. Simple. I’m sure this resonates with your wedding planning through and through. Ultimately we all want to look and feel great and confident on our special day and no doubt you’ll have started planning your fitness schedule. If having first dance lessons is also somewhere on your to do list, because you want to achieve a little more than just a predictable shuffle round the floor, move it forward in your planning now and give it the same priority ranking as your fitness plan!

Practice makes Permanent

I’ve refrained from using the other well know phrase; ‘practice makes perfect’. We at The Love of Dance try to release pressure for couples by reminding them that the first dance should be about having fun and relaxing. Leave the perfection to the ones who are going to be judged at the Winter Gardens…unless that is what you are aspiring to, then who are we to stop you!

However, we do recommend aiming for permanence. Whilst first dances don’t need to be physically demanding, our bodies need time to absorb movement information into the muscle memory. You’ll have no trouble picking up movement sequences, but that beautiful Rogers and Astaire posture and grace we see from ballroom dancers doesn’t happen after a couple of lessons. It is practised to become second nature so that by the time you reach your first dance moment your steps will feel more natural and you certainly won’t be concentrating on posture any more. Get in the habit of holding yourself tall and your guests will be so blown away by the confidence you omit, they won’t care what your feet are doing!

Similarly, as much as some may like to think they are John Travolta on the dance floor on a Saturday night, we professional dancers at The Love of Dance know the process our brains and bodies go through to really give a confident and relaxed, rehearsed performance.

Performance: It’s a big word I know, but don’t let that put you off. As you will be dancing in front of your adoring public (friends and family!) throughout your first dance, for around 2 minutes of your lives, you will effectively be ‘performing’! Start working on your first dance in advance, if you want to start to hardwire the posture, steps and confidence into your muscle and cognitive memory. The further in advance you start practice, the more confident you will feel during the dance. (Blog to follow on tips to prepare for, and relax during your first dance).

Give it time

Without the luxury of a lot of time on our hands amongst busy schedules we appreciate it isn’t maybe feasible to have weekly dance lessons, and you may find in the early days you can only fit in one lesson per month…but closer to your big day, your schedule is going to be squeezed even further. Brains can only retain a certain amount of information pumped into them when only given short periods of time to learn dance. This then has to soak into the muscle memory before the rest just starts dropping out the other ear.

Practising over a longer period however will ensure the cerebellum (the part of the brain that controls movement) has time to remember different bits of information and start piecing together the jigsaw of the different skills needed to be able to dance e.g. the steps, the posture, the leading/following of the partner. This article explains how we make movement intuitive and permanently fixed in our psyche, so we can relax as those dance steps and strong posture start feeling like second nature. (ironically called practice makes perfect!). No. 1 Reason Why Practice Makes Perfect. This article talks about the benefits of learning over a period of time: The Science Behind How We Learn New Skills

Scheduling your first dance lessons?

By starting earlier there won’t be any last minute panic, stressful, ‘shotgun’ wedding dance lessons, which we see quite often and clients leave maybe even a little less confident about dancing than when they first started. Try reversing the shotgun schedule: more frequent lessons at the start, no less than 4 months in advance. This will mean that wedding planning mania sets in closer to the event, whilst your mind is working overtime thinking of everything else you need to be doing, you only need to manage some last minute polishing and rehearsal sessions with a more relaxed frame of mind.

So remember: plan ahead and plan for first wedding dance success. It’s failsafe.

Further reading

More about the logic behind practice here: The Science Of What Happens When You Learn