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.


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