This week I have been teaching a lot of couples preparing their first dance for their wedding. I am sure that a lot of dance teachers have turned their hand to this. It can be a lucrative thing to do but also joyous as you help a couple prepare for their big day.
I have choreographed to all sorts of music, rock and roll, romantic waltzes, ballads, quicksteps, foxtrots, and Latin rhythms. I also take care to tell the couple that if they are picking their favourite tune, it may not be by the end of the series of lessons. Many couples have a plan of how they would like their dance to look. Some couples are more confident surrounding performance and some are definitely more rhythmical than others.
LISTENING TO THE COUPLE
I always try to fit in a session to meet the couple and discuss their needs. During this conversation it is vital that you listen as you can learn so much about people from being quiet and listening to the way they describe themselves, their characters and ideas.
The music is a good starting point as it reflects the mood which they would like to create. Most couples have seen YouTube videos of wedding dances and usually tell you what they absolutely don’t want very quickly.
RHYTHMS AND MOVEMENTS
I feel sure that most dance teachers have made good use of the Social Foxtrot, the Waltz and a Square Rumba/Bossa Nova type dance. As soon as we hear music, teachers try to discern a rhythm that might work with the music. Sometimes this is easier than others. According to Spotify the most selected first dance on playlists is Thinking Out Loud by Ed Sheeran and of course there is the video of choreography of Ed Sheeran dancing. It may not be the sort of dance that many would choose or be able to pull off for their first dance though. It certainly would not work in a wedding dress.
A DIFFERENT WAY
After many years of worrying that wedding couples would not be able to dance in time with the music without me counting along, I decided to dispense with worrying about timing at all in the traditional sense. Now when I am choreographing for a first dance for a couple with relatively little dance experience I am constructing images and joining them together. I link a selection of poses, holds, gestures and pictures together with movement. I am always aware of images of couples holding hands and walking; couples standing close; couples swaying whilst they look into each others eyes. I am also aware of shapes such as arches and circles. I link these with movement such as walks, taps, rocks and rotation. Generally the couple will soon work the material so that it fits the music and then I steer them to listen to certain phrases and highlights.
I have found this method to be really successful if not a little scary for me. Helping couples prepare their first dance has been an absolute joy for me over the years. This year my daughter has prepared her own dance for her wedding. I haven’t seen it yet but I know it will reflect their characters. So good luck to all those teachers who will prepare the product and may never see it performed live and good luck to all the wedding couples this year. The most important thing is to enjoy the moment. Hopefully you will all only do one first dance.