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Young Love

Tips To Creating Your First Dance.

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!

Your frame of mind.

If one or both of you are not looking forward to learning to dance, it stops progression. It will take you much longer to get your project finished, cost more to your pocketbook and has the potential to make your otherwise fun experience a pretty miserable one. Please only come to the studio when both of you are in a positive frame of mind. Only the best of feelings belong on the dance floor. It will take you the furthest distance in the creation of an enjoyable and fun endeavor for everyone.

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 time to your music, 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 with 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.

Your expectations

There is so much great music out there! To keep things going smoothly, it is important to remember that adding "special bits" to every nuance in your song is going to take a bit longer, especially if you have never danced together as a couple. If this is what you are envisioning, it is strongly suggested that you enroll in an inexpensive group class six months before your wedding. This will give you the best start and will better prepare you for adding those special bits into your choreography. It will also help shorten your time in your package.


If you and your partner do not have a lot of time together to practice, it is best to simplify your dance as much a possible. It will take down some of those factors that may cause frustration to you. It is important to remember that each time you come in for a lesson, it is assumed that you have practiced enough to remember your choreography from your last lesson. If you do not have it down well enough, your lesson just might needlessly  turn into a very expensive practice session as further choreography gets delayed.

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 Lessons: This should give you a very simple material 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. No worries! Remember that sometimes less is more. We can still create something very special for you.

5 Lessons: This should give you enough time to have a few special points to your song with slightly more intermediate material. 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 Lessons. We should have enough time to choreograph your whole song with new material throughout if your song choice is well under four minutes. You will have time for special embellishments like simple lifts or tricks. 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 Lessons. This will give you enough time to choreograph your whole song with new material throughout and time to polish. This will usually afford some time for you to add a father/daughter lesson or mother/ son lesson or start working on a second dance choice.

About YouTube Expectations.

Most, if not all choreographed dances on YouTube are usually highly rehearsed. What I mean by this is most couples have had a year or more of previous dance experience before their engagement. Please keep this in mind when wanting something you have seen on YouTube. I want so badly to give you the dance of your dreams, but please understand these logistics. I am more than happy to give you some safer or simpler alternatives.

One more example of our work.

Colin & Nikki

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.

" We loved every minute of our ballroom dance lessons. .....Even if I cried a little bit".  :)

     ~ Colin & Nikki R.
         Wedding Choreography 2008.

Photos by Wix

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