As a wedding planner and a guest at weddings we have all seen that first dance. The couple that goes out and starts their dance and looks like they are hugging a tree and everyone stands there for a moment to watch and then starts talking to the person next to them.
But then there is the time that the couple goes out there and twirls and dips and everyone is watching because it’s just so darn romantic!! Or my favorite first dance to watch is the Father/Daughter dance. At a recent wedding you could tell dad was an experienced dancer and they had practiced not just once, but her entire life for this moment.
Whether or not you have thought about getting dance lessons or plan on just going for it, it doesn’t hurt to know what your options are for the First Dance. My good friend, Don, is a dance instructor and he was kind enough to answer 6 questions that you should consider.
1.) When should you get started to learn an entire dance? How many lessons?
“A fully choreographed dance takes a while to put together and learn. Depending on the length and complexity it can take up to a year or more to create an elaborate first dance. Usually, with practice, about 10-15 lessons starting 6 months in advance is sufficient to choreograph and learn a decent first dance.”
2.) What is the minimum time to just learn the entrance/exit/dip? How many lessons?
“If you don’t have much time to learn a whole choreographed routine or even the basics of a dance, then at the bare minimum you should have an entrance and exit dip. That can be put together in about 3 lessons along with some very simple moves that you can do during the first dance.”
3.) How long is a typical lesson?
“This is a tricky question that people really need to ask when looking for a place to learn to dance. Lots of studios charge by “the session” or “unit”. Many times that boils down to 30-45 mins. I always teach for a full hour and sometimes go long if in the middle of an important piece.”
4.) Should you take Private vs. Group? What’s the difference?
“Private lessons are one on one time with an instructor vs group in a class where an instructor is teaching several people. Group classes are good for learning the general basics of a dance (where to put your feet). It’s similar to going to class or meeting a teacher during office hours. For a wedding first dance you really need to take private lessons. In a private lesson the instructor can address your individual needs. They can help you pick a song. If you already have one they can listen to your song and come up with creative ideas for an entrance/exit and highlight moments in the music to “strike a pose” for maximum effect.”
5.) How should I go about choosing a song and how long should the song be?
“Choosing a good song for a wedding first dance can be tricky. Lots of times people like to use a song that meant something to them while they were dating. Sometimes that song, however, just doesn’t lend itself to be a good first dance. You really want a song that is meaningful to both the couple, but also the audience. You really want your guests to be caught up in moment and follow you during the whole dance. The length of the song is also important. If the song is too long people will lose interest and start talking among themselves, too short and it will be over before you can get started. Usually I aim for 90 seconds of actual dancing. That can be extended with an intro of up to a minute as well as a 15-30 second exit. (total of 3 minutes or more)”
6.) What about learning other dances? Something that the entire wedding party is part of?
“Its always good to learn more dances. (Spoken like a true dance instructor). But that largely depends on how much time you have to learn. It would be good to at least bring in mom and dad for a few lessons for the father/daughter and mother/son dances. This is definitely a good opportunity to have a few group classes with the wedding party so everyone can lean something and be on the floor together for a second dance.”
If you would like to get in contact with Don or an instructor in your area, connect with us here at www.BlueWingsEvents.com