Remember when a First Dance was a quick shuffle round the dance floor with your new better half before quickly beckoning on your friends and family to join you before the embarrassment reached critical proportions? Well, before that was a time when a first dance was an elegant and romantic journey with the one you love, whilst the women watching swoon. Think Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. Which would
you rather go for? Or maybe, these days, you’re thinking of a big show piece First Dance, along the lines of all those YouTube sensations out there?
If you aspire to something greater than the aforementioned awkward shuffle then you’re going to need some help. Fortunately, I know just the person! Drum roll please for our latest wedding expert Abbi Burns from Darley Dance! Abbi and her team have helped many couples to choreograph and learn the most important dance of their lives, and she’s agreed to guest write on our blog!
“As the wedding industry booms and the options for Brides and grooms become seemingly endless, it can be tough to find time in all the chaos to focus on yourselves as a couple. Planning a wedding can quickly escalate from an intimate affair to a gigantic team effort but there is one area that belongs to the couple alone. The First Dance! In recent years the First dance has become more and more a focus point, thanks to YouTube. Couples are moving away from the once loved shuffle around the floor and want something different. The problem comes when many people realise that they have perhaps never danced with their partner. Of course, most of us have thrown out a few shapes on the dance floor in a drunken state but actually dancing arm in arm is a new experience.
I have been teaching dance for over a decade and have taught every style and every age but my favourite classes are the ones I have with my Wedding couples. It’s so much fun working with them and developing something that they will have together forever. Every couple is different and every dance is special.
I always have a meeting with my couples before we start. It’s important for them to feel like they are being listened to and that they get all their ideas out on the table. However ridiculous they may seem! Often people are quite nervous when they first come in, especially the groom, and they have ideas but don’t want to sound silly. No idea is too ridiculous and the more personal the better. I’ve had couples coming to me wanting something funny that will make their guests laugh and maybe even include some of their personal ‘dance moves’ from their friendship circle and I’ve had people who want to feel like they are on Strictly Come Dancing. I’ve even had people wanting to re-enact famous routines or music videos. In that first meeting we scribble down loads of ideas, maybe watch some YouTube videos and we arrive at an idea and a style that fits.
If couples want to do an exciting First Dance but don’t like the idea of being in the spotlight then they have the option of bringing in Bridesmaids and Ushers and creating a big number. That way they still have a First Dance to remember but they get to share the limelight and bring in their friends for support.
The first lesson is always quite nerve wracking for the couple and I try as quickly as possible to make them feel comfortable and let them know that even if they feel like they look daft, they don’t! It’s important for a couple to trust me and trust each other. The lessons need to be fun and laid back. There’s no point being overwhelmed or stressed, we are not training for a competition or an exam, there are no rules and no strict directions. We do what feels natural because that way the routine is easier to remember and exciting to perform. Lessons often descend into fits of giggles as couples become more and more comfortable and realise that they can enjoy themselves whilst learning something new.
As a benchmark, most couples have around 6 lessons. In the first lesson we ascertain whether or not someone has two left feet. If they do, then I just make the routine easier. Very often the simple moves are the most effective but more often than not people come in thinking that they can’t dance but soon realise that they can. Every routine is new and unique and choreographed especially for the individual couple so if something is too hard or too easy then we simply change it. You wouldn’t wear a dress or a suit on your big day that didn’t fit so why do a routine that doesn’t fit? It’s impossible to offend me so when a couple doesn’t like a certain move or feel really uncomfortable then I just adapt it to something that feels right. I encourage my couples to video their dance as it progresses, partly so that they can keep it for posterity but mainly so that they can see for themselves what they look like. Couples are often pleasantly surprised at how good they look and it helps build their confidence as we continue. It’s also a great way to remember the routine if practising at home. I’m often asked about whether to do lifts and I always say, why not? There are very simple lifts that look impressive and they are often not as intimidating as they first appear.
Don’t panic about the dress, whether you choose to marry in a mini skirt or a princess dress that could double up as a marquee there is always a way around it. I always talk to my brides in private about the dress and give nothing away in front of the grooms.
I think it’s always great when couple’s choose to keep their First Dance a secret. Not only is it a fantastic surprise for the guests but it also gives the couple something very private in the lead up to the wedding. Meeting in secret to sneak off to dance classes can be a lot of fun and with the chaos that surrounds the run up to any wedding, having some time set aside every week to spend together can be an enjoyable and valuable experience.”
If you’d like to know more about Darley Dance’s First Dance service you can visit their website at DarleyDance.co.uk, or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Alternatively you can call Abbi on 07712 527 922.