To dance or not to dance?

The first dance can be a cause of concern for many couples. Our registered supplier Dynamique Dance  (Derbyshire Wedding Supplier) shares their expertise to help you consider and navigate the opportunities open to you.

So where does the first dance tradition come from exactly?

IMG_6015_copy resized2According to Wikipedia it was traditionally a waltz that was danced by the married couple (the guests of honour) as a way to signal to guests that the dance floor was now ‘open’ for dancing.

Today it can mean a number of things to the couple-anything from pure dread, to ‘just another tradition we have to do’, to an excuse to downright party and show off. Today’s generation of bride and grooms tend to want to give their guests something to remember as choreographed and sometimes mock dance routines are performed to the amazement of their guests. And it’s not just the bride and groom that get all of the glory. Bridal parties involving the bridesmaids, grooms men and even guests are sometimes summoned onto the dance floor and then catapulted onto YouTube for future brides to be inspired by in the way of flash mobs, first dances and entrance and exit dances during the ceremony.

But what is right for you? Not everyone wants to appear on YouTube and not everyone is comfortable in their own skin. So ‘to dance or not to dance?’ this is the question.

There is nothing more uncomfortable then watching a bride and groom squirm, tight in an embrace and seconds later bashfully summoning everyone to the dance floor to join them. Many guests feel sad that they have been made to feel so embarrassed and that they are simply ‘following tradition’. Dancing is not everyone’s forte so if it is leaving you wide awake every night with worry-my advice is to skip it. It’s your wedding and you have to do what is right for you. At my wedding I had no favours, no one to give me away and no bouquet toss. So what? They weren’t important to me, so they didn’t make it into our evening. Simples.

If however one of you is really keen to do a first dance then it is worth pursuing, even if the bride/groom may take some persuading (as my husband did). As a choreographer I see many couples who are at first nervous and reluctant, find that they end up enjoying the first dance and have found the experience quite romantic-once they know what to do. So if you feel that you would like to follow tradition and have a first dance, no matter how traditional or show stopping follow my 10 top tips to ensure you get exactly what you want!

First Dance - Dynamic Dance - The Wedding Gateway

  1. Find that special song. Was it playing the time you met? Does it remind you of the other? Is it a lovely song you both enjoy? The reason for why you choose the song is irrelevant, what matters is that it means something and you won’t be sick of hearing it years to come from now. If you are stuck a quick internet search will give you plenty of ideas. My advice is then to separately listen to the tracks for a week and whichever one is still ‘special’ and not driving you round the bend, there’s your song.
  2. Discuss with each other what represents your personality. Do you both want something slow and romantic? Would you like to learn some new moves together for the occasion? Do you want to show off your crazy side and do something unique? (Also don’t be disappointed if you can’t come to an agreement. You can always persuade your guests or bridal party to do that fun dance number with you if Mr hubby isn’t so keen).
  3. Watch videos. Yes it’s cliché but there really is a lot to be inspired by on YouTube and it is every dancers tool for inspiration, so have a gander and see what takes your fancy.
  4. Lessons or not? Not everyone needs a professional dance teacher or choreographer to create a dance for them. If you want something slow and natural you may be able to teach yourself some steps from YouTube tutorials. I recommend learning a handful of simple steps and turns to be punctuated with the ‘hug and turn’ we all know and love. Mix it up, try different orders of steps with the music or improvise on the day based on what you’ve learnt. The result-something simple that appears unchoreographed and best of all it’s FREE.
  5. If however you would like to dazzle your guests with something new I would recommend two avenues. If you want a traditional ballroom number (think Strictly Come Dancing) then I would advise attending several private lessons at a local ballroom dance school that can break down the movements and some may also choreograph you a short routine. They are professional in their genre, if ballroom is all you want. If however you want to be a bit more flexible and add in a range of styles or you find ballroom too difficult then there are hundreds of companies now specialising in 1st dance lessons and first dance choreography nationwide. But which one do I choose? See my further tips for help and support….
  6. First of all you will need your choreographer to be local and reliable. So do a quick internet search or look in wedding magazines or ask friends for contacts.
  7. Ensure the company you use has met and vetted each and every one of their staff. There are many companies claiming to be first dance specialists who are actually run by marketing whizzes with no dance background and all of their work is outsourced to dance individuals they have never met. This can lead to unreliable staff and inconsistent quality. My advice is to look for a small-medium sized company who meet and train all of their staff-that way you know what to expect.
  8. Save money by asking the choreographer to come to your home or wedding venue, not only will you save pennies on studio hire but you will also feel more ‘at home’, so push the coffee table aside and close those curtains.
  9. Ensure you communicate your song, any injuries/disabilities and what you ‘have in mind’ for your first dance in advance to give the choreographer time to listen to the song and source some ideas.
  10. Finally it is your dance so always ensure you are in control. If something feels unnatural or uncomfortable then kindly ask for an alternative move. You want to feel confident when you perform so ensure the dance is right for you. Filming it as you rehearse is also worthwhile for movement memory and as a confidence boost to see how far you have come!

First Dance - Dynamic Dance - The Wedding Gateway

So whether you want a slow shuffle, something natural, something show stopping or downright crazy that involves your guests and Gangnam style or no dance at all make sure it communicates ‘YOU BOTH’ to your wedding party…after all you are officially opening that dance floor!

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