T H I S . I S . M E. Look out world ‘cos here I come!*
Thought I’d introduce myself to some new followers, the face behind The Love of Dance.
I’m Alison, First Wedding Dance Choreographer – I founded The Love of Dance 10 years ago to help wedding planning couples who didn’t know where to begin in planning something a little special for their first dance. Most of my clients over the years have been ‘non’ dancers (I hate that phrase because everyone is a dancer in their own right!) and they needed anything from learning some basic social ballroom steps (footwork), to a first dance extravaganza choreographed for them!
I’m also a Pilates Instructor and incorporate postural strength into my service in helping couples stand tall, proud and confident on their day, or generally help them strengthen and tone. (Downward Facing Dog optional!).
I’m based in Bedfordshire but thanks to the wonder of tech I now teach couples/clients all over the UK… maybe I’ll be able to say ‘the world’ soon!
“Look out (world) ’cause here I come, And I’m marching on to the beat I drum, I’m not scared to be seen, I make no apologies, T H I S . I S . M E”
*Oh, and yes – I love The Greatest Showman. Slightly edited the words, but If ever there’s a power ballad for 21stC, that’s the song!
Love still blossoms… Online dating was the norm even before lock down. Now face timing is the only gauge of someones mannerisms and demeanour which can’t be read from a WhatsApp message, but does it give accurate enough representation of a person.
Lockdown Love & Dating
Where do singles find love at the moment?
Can a fleeting moment in a supermarket queue spark new conversation and lead to love in the aisles?
A chat with the regular delivery guy?
A nurse who helps someone back to health?
Where else do singles find love at the moment and how can we make a face time relationship meaningful and really get to know someone through a screen??
What sequence of impactful types of online meetings and conversations need to happen to embed into a singular heart, amongst a sea of other love-seeking hopefuls?
Or do we just press pause on love??
These are the questions I’m going to be taking to @Ticheabrade’s She Created Life’s brunch discusses dating and relationships. Sunday 27 April 11-1pm. The link to join is in her bio.
I can’t wait to see and hear the unique love stories that might emerge and dust themselves off out of a period of complete random circumstance affecting our planet in numerous, monumental and societal shaping ways!!
The Wedding Planning Show Goes On
While on the subject of relationship related norms that are still happening – wedding planning is still very much live. I was involved last week in an online wedding show. @BeckieMelvineventsAnti Panic Wedding Show showcased some fabulous Beds, Herts and Bucks Wedding Industry suppliers, bringing the profile of their services to the living room of wedding planning brides-to-be. You can still view the videos through the event Facebook page linked above. It’s a great time for couples to do their research, build a rapport with suppliers while they might have that extra time on their hands.
And what better way to pass the time than learning to dance together with first dance lessons brought to you in your living room! The Love of Dance’s FREE online taster lesson will give you a taster of what to expect going forward from our first dance lessons. To claim, tag 3 wedding planning friends or brides to be into the comments on the Instagram or Facebook post linked here, and I’ll be in touch!
Let’s talk those first wedding dance songs that aren’t too clichéd. Stuck for ideas? Here’s my list of first dance songs that are a little different. Cool, smooth, romantic songs which maybe haven’t been thought of by your friends, cousins – anyone else getting married around you.
Some inspiration has come through from my First Dance Clients. Some are my personal favourite songs of all time: personal to me because of my family’s music background – my dad is a jazz musician.
The first dance song will ideally represent your journey together, but not every couple has the song that perfectly summarises their relationship, reminds them of the day they met, or their first holiday together. You may not have a song that they think is suitable for a first dance – but it is YOUR day – it doesn’t have to be a clichéd love song. You dance to whatever you jolly well like. If you’re stuck, maybe by listening to lots of music, you could find the song that tells your story.
There’s a wealth of music out there on music platforms, Youtube etc. search the genre of music or artists you like; listen to remixes, instrumentals, covers by other artists. Find new music, listening to the suggestions that pop up based on your previous searches. Literally get lost in music!
When you find your song, be creative! Perhaps have it sung by a live band, personalise your song further by asking your musicians to play around with the arrangement, or find an instrumental version (a beautiful piece of music doesn’t need lyrics). TIP: Ask the band to record the final version before the wedding day so you can rehearse your dance to the song in advance!
So keep scrolling down for my list, Sit back with a glass of wine on a Friday evening – or a cuppa on your Sunday morning – with your beau and Enjoy my Spotify Playlist here.
Get in touch to find out more about how The Love Of Dance can help find the perfect song, create amazing first dance memories by teaching you to dance together through wedding dance lessons, and arrange the live music to accompany your first dance and beyond, into the evening.
If I Ain’t Got You – Alicia Keys
Can’t Take My Eyes Off You – Andy Williams
My Baby Just Cares For Me – Nina Simone
Here Comes The Sun – Nina Simone
Jose James – I’ve added Jose to my playlist because he’s covered so many soul/RnB classics, alongside writing his own tracks. His voice is like a cosy hug. Go down that maze of following his songs/albums on any music platform and enjoy his delicious voice.
Lovely Day – Bill Withers
At Last – Etta James
I Only Have Eyes For You – So many versions! Ella’s is a lovely upbeat version. The Flamingos: not everyone’s cuppa, but totally cool and chilled!
You and I (Nobody in the World) – John Legend
What a Wonderful World – Louis Armstrong (of course!)
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.
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!
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.
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.
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!
Bring Your Sauce to the Dancefloor with the Latino styles
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.
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!
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.
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
Caroline & Tim’s First Wedding Dance (c) Jackson & Co Photography 2015
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
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.
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.
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.
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!
Caroline & Tim (c) Jackson & Co Photography 2015
Caroline & Tim’s First Wedding Dance (c) Jackson & Co Photography 2015