First Dance Notes.

When planning your wedding, the list of things to consider is endless. What venue should you use? Are we going to use a D.J? Will we do a full dinner for our guests or just appetizers? Trying to orchestrate all of the details can be intimidating and sometimes downright scary.

How many lessons it will take for you to learn your dance depends on so many factors. My hope for this page is to help you decide what is best.

Below is a list of ideas that hopefully will help you decide what you would like to accomplish with your first dance. I feel it is so important to be transparent with the whole process because well, nobody really likes surprises!

Choosing your song.

 I do have a few suggestions when choosing a song. Here is a list that can help you decide.

1. Songs with a slower tempo will be easier to learn than that of a faster tempo. Tempo is the speed the music is played. Some people feel if the artist is singing slowly or softly, the song has a slow tempo. This isn't always the case. A good example is A Thousand Years by Christina Perri. She sings slowly, but the actual tempo is that of a faster 3/4 time. The speed is approximately 58 measures per minute, with the accented beat on the 1, making it a Viennese (fast) Waltz. When working with music, we have to use the time signature, accented beats and tempo. We only use the lyrics to add highlights. This is a beautiful song, but because of the speed, you might want to give yourself more time as it will take longer to learn.

2. A Foxtrot is the easiest dance to learn, followed by a Slow Waltz. If you are unsure what your song is and would like to choose either one of these dances I would be happy to make a few recommendations. But because you can't dance a waltz to a song written in 4/4 time signature, it would be best to email your song to me so I can help you identify it. Slightly faster songs are also popular. Swing or Night Club Two Steps are also fun alternatives.

 

3. Some dances take up more space than others, so it is helpful to have a rough idea what the square footage is on the dance space you will be using. If it is a smaller floor like a 16 x 16, we can still make it work with some creative thinking.

4. It is best to expect to keep your song around two minutes. Two minutes is just enough time to keep you on budget and to keep your guests interested without them becoming bored. If you would like to choreograph your whole song or try two dance styles, you can do that too; only please understand that it will take more time. For more on this, please see Choosing the right package.

5. Once you have chosen a song, email the song title and artist to me so I can see what kind of fun we are going to have! I will also help identify

your song so we can discuss how to best utilize the dance space your venue will be providing for you.

I have to teach you to dance, quickly.

Most couples in group class learn how to connect, change weight along with implementing lead and follow over a period of 14 weeks in our beginning class. I have to help you expedite this process quickly to help you be ready in time for your wedding. That means that we have to work together so you can learn the choreography and help you be able to dance it well in a much shorter time. This is a big process and I want you to have fun doing it. Give yourself a lot of patience!

All dance instructors are not the same

A lot of people assume that as a teacher of dance, I must teach all kinds of dance genre from ballet to hip hop to tap or lyrical. The truth is I only teach couples how to dance together. I teach couples how to connect to a partner, how to keep rhythm, how to apply the physics that make your dancing together feel good. I don't teach any other kind of dance form. So sadly, if you want a hip-hop routine or a choreographed dance where you are dancing independently side by side each other, I can't do that. That is when you need to search for a hip hop instructor. To avoid being pointed in the wrong direction, be specific to any other dance establishments that may contact  that you are not wanting ballroom. Otherwise you may be referred back to me which could be frustrating on your end.

Choosing the perfect dance package for your first dance.

1 or 2 lessons: This will teach you in simple lead/follow format in one dance. Sadly, you won't have enough time to choreograph any part of your song. It is perfect for those who contact me at the last minute to avoid that eighth grade "grab and sway".

3 or 4 lessons: This should give you a very simple choreography in one dance. Embellishing a certain part of your song will take longer than this package will allow. We usually choreograph one minute of music and repeat it through your song.  I will teach you a dip to finish your song. No worries! Remember that sometimes less is more. We can still create something very special for you.

5 or 6 lessons: This should give you enough time to have a few special points to your song with slightly more intermediate material. It may give you a little time to polish it before  your wedding. We will still probably need to repeat once or twice if you still would like to use your whole song. We might have time to put an entrance to your dance. I will teach you a dip to put at the end of your song.

7 or 8 lessons. This may or may not give you enough time to choreograph your whole song with new material throughout if your song choice is under four minutes. You will have time for a simple lift or special embellishments. We will have more time to add more intermediate material to your dance. If you choose to choreograph your whole song, you might have some time left to polish it. We can add an entrance and dip ending.

9 or 10 lessons. This will give you enough time to choreograph your whole song with new material throughout and time to polish. This will also afford some time for you to add a father/daughter lesson or mother/ son lesson or start working on a second dance choice.

A quick note about music mash-ups.

Mash-ups can add a lot of interest and variety to your dance. But because you will most likely be using different varieties of song, this usually means that I will need to teach you different dance varieties as well. This will take much more time to do. Please give yourself a minimum of three lessons per song choice in your mash-up. To make it work best, it is easier  and more cost effective to have a maximum of one minute or less per song in your mash-up. Here is the best formula to follow:

Mash-up of two songs: Allow an average of 6-7 lessons. (6 weeks - 2 months before your wedding). Approx. 2 minute dance.

Mash-up of three songs: Allow an average 9-10 lessons. (9 weeks - 3 months before your wedding). Approx. 3 minute dance

Mash-up of four songs: Allow an average of 12-13  lessons. (12 weeks - 3.5 months before your wedding). Approx. 4 minute dance

Mash-up of five songs: Allow an average of 15-16 lessons. ( 15 weeks - 4 months before your wedding). Approx. 5 minute dance.

Try not to make your mash-up any longer than a total of 4.5 minutes if possible.

I do not compose your mash-up recording for you. Please ask your DJ to compose this for you.

" We loved every minute of our ballroom dance lessons. .....Even if I cried a little bit".  :)
     ~ Colin & Nikki R.
         Wedding Choreography 2008.

Several years ago, I choreographed this first dance for Colin and Nikki. Colin had been on a competitive ballroom dance team as a youth. Nikki had some tap background, but had never danced with another person, so getting Nikki caught up to speed with Colin was the first thing we had to do.

We started working on this dance in June. They met with me every week until their wedding in September. They did not tell their family as they intended on it being a big surprise!

This dance will always remain as a tender place in my heart for many years. Today Colin and Nikki live in Boise and have a little girl to cherish. I still see them every now and again. I value their time that they spent with me as working this closely with a couple for so long always creates wonderful bonds.

Skip forward to 1:37 to see their dance.

Colin & Nikki

If you have a large production like this in mind, it is suggested that your use a Silver Package of nine lessons. You would be able to pay $160 month for three consecutive months.