Monday, 14 May 2012

Banbury Can Dance and Strictly Banbury

It was a really busy day yesterday at The Mill Centre in Banbury. Firstly the kids I teach at local school Bishop Carpenter (AKA the 'BC Crew') had made it to yesterdays final of Banbury Can Dance. They did amazingly well - especially as they were up against kids who have been dancing for years whilst most of my lot had only been dancing a few months. It was a mixture of all styles of dance - theirs was a street dance routine. They scored 9 across the board from the judges!

Later that night it was the final of Strictly Banbury of which I was a judge. The couples had to perform a Rumba, a Quickstep and a Free style routine. It was a combination of local celebrities paired up with experienced dancers, and it was fantastic what they had managed to achieve in a few weeks. The freestyles were wondrously creative including Charleston, American Smooth, Blues Brother jivers and the winners ... cha cha cha-ing footie players! 

It was a thoroughly enjoyable evening and so nice when everyone including the audience took to the floor to dance at the end. It was great to see how much difference the knowledge of a few steps to use on the dance floor makes to the enjoyment of dancing in a social occasion. I hope my wedding couples keep their steps in the bag for such occasions!

Monday, 7 May 2012

Strictly Banbury 2012!

I am delighted to have been asked to be a Judge on this year's Strictly Banbury 2012 competition! It looks to be a great show with the couples performing Quickstep, Rumba and Freestyle.

The Banbury Guardian stated last week:-

"BANBURY’S Strictly fans have created a rush on the box office in anticipation of 2012’s sparkling show, for there is not a seat to be had for the Banbury Guardian’s hit annual spectacular.
The ballroom dancing extravaganza was declared a sellout over a week ago as supporters of this prestigious charity event snapped up all seats at the Mill Theatre, Banbury on May 12-13.
Run in collaboration with Step by Step Dance School, Strictly Banbury 2012 features a dozen local celebrities paired with experienced tutors.
The couples will be judged on all three dances by a panel of ballroom experts and the audience will choose the winning couple from the six pairs whose scores get them through to the dance off, where they perform their favourite routine of the evening.
As well as the dance challenge, Saturday will feature an amazing demonstration of ballroom and Latin dancing by Britain’s number three Latin dance couple, David Roberts and Andrea Law."

It looks like fantastic fun and I can't wait to see all the local celebraties strutting their stuff!

Here's a shot of the couples in rehearsal!

Sunday, 15 April 2012

Kim and Nick's awesome First Dance Mix

Here is Kim and Nick's mix of loads of fun songs for their wedding dance! The started with a classic Celine Dion ballad then broke out into a mixture of great party dances!
What is amazing is that we only had one rehearsal for their dance of only just over 1 hour! I mixed the track for them with the songs requested by the bride - she wanted a crowd pleaser and certainly the songs and dance certainly did that! They did amazingly well and I am so proud of them both!

Monday, 19 March 2012

Track mixing

We have more and more couples deciding to use more than one track in their first dance. Some want a slow song leading into something more up tempo, and some want a whole medley of songs mixed together. Some couples simply want their song cut a little shorter too to a manageable 3 minutes or so.
This is why we are happy to now offer track mixing! Our rates are very reasonable - just ask us for a quote for your song. An average 2 - 3 song mix would be £20 - £30 but we've recently had a bride asking for a 20 song mix which wasn't much more.
Our mixer uses up to the minute software and is a professional musician.
So now you don't have to decide between music styles - use them all in a perfect 3 minute mix.

Friday, 2 March 2012

Personalised wedding activity books and children's goodie bags!

After a recent request from a bride we are very pleased to work in conjunction with our sister company Come To My Party (children's entertainment for parties and events) and introduce our personalised wedding activity books and goodie bags!

Each wedding activity book states the date (and venue if required) of your wedding plus bride and groom's names. Each activity is wedding themed (dot to dot, colouring, interactive games, word searchs, puzzles and lots more. There is something for everyone from age 2 to the young at heart! Most of the inside pages can also be personalised and there are a total of 16 fun packed pages.

Our goodie bags are tastefully decorated and bear the child's name - they often end up being a child's hand bag for the rest of the day!
Contents include plasticine; pens / crayons for the activity book; 2 toys including a wooden toy and age / gender appropriate toy; bubbles and sweets. 

We can either deliver the bags to you fully prepared on your last dance rehearsal, or arrange for postage.

Full goodie bags are £5 per child, or £2.50 per child for just the book and pens.

Sunday, 26 February 2012

Nail The First Dance At Your Wedding - A recent interview for 'You And Your Wedding' Magazine.

I thought I'd re-blog a recent interview I did for top wedding magazine You and Your Wedding.

Liz and Kevin dance to Rule The World by Take That.
For most of us, dancing in public is something we only do after one too many cocktails in the middle of a dark, overcrowded dance floor. So it’s no wonder the nerves start to kick in at the mention of the first wedding dance – with all eyes on you and the groom. Want to wow your guests with more than just a clumsy jig? Read on…

What's the big trend at the moment – Strictly Come Ballroom or Dirty Dancing-style show dances?

For a wedding first dance, the classic ballroom dances are always popular. We don’t have to stick to the rules quite as strongly as Strictly though! I mix in a few traditional steps with a few fancy and fun ones, and adapt some of the stricter ballroom timings and rules to suit the couple and the song. Actually, the couples that do want a more showy dance seem to be going all out lately and involving the bridesmaids, ushers and even mum and dad for a full on performance!

Which is the simplest ballroom dance to master?
I would say learning the waltz is the most straightforward ballroom dance. It is comprised of a basic box step where the feet make a box or square shape on the ground in six steps. Once a couple has mastered this, there is a lot we can do with it to easily fill a song without learning lots of complicated moves.

Would we be better learning a Latin dance like Salsa or Samba?

As a rule I generally find the bride picks up salsa steps a lot easier than the groom. Perhaps because a lot of exercise classes the bride may have attended in the past use similar steps. If the couple is up for it though and prepared to use a lot of hip action, this can be a great style to go for and a real crowd pleaser!

Is it easier to choose our favourite piece of music and get it choreographed for us?
I would definitely choose the right song for you, rather than try and think what anyone else would like. Any song can be danced to, although admittedly some are harder to dance to than others. I find the hardest songs are the really slow ones – especially if a couple is inexperienced with timing. Couples need to use a lot of restraint – quite difficult when excited and nervous on the day. Saying that, couples seem to always pull it off beautifully on the day.

We'd like to do a simple waltz to something contemporary. Can you suggest some tracks?

There are some really cool waltzes out there. A favourite of mine is ‘Valentine Moon’ by Sam Brown. Other great modern choices include ‘Crown of Love’ by Arcade Fire; ‘Come away with me’ by Norah Jones, ‘If you don’t know me by now’ by Simply Red, ‘Kiss from a Rose’ by Seal, plus lots more.

How many lessons would we need to nail something?
It depends on what you want. To do justice to a full song most couples would need around four or five hours. One or two hours however, will give you a good grounding of steps and give you the confidence to dance comfortably together on the night. Couples wanting bigger numbers, i.e. two songs linked together, or involving other members of the wedding party would probably need a little more. As the lessons are one-to-one and tailored specifically to each couples’ requirements, each hour is worth around 10 of what you take away from a group class environment.

How long should we aim for the routine to last?
Three minutes is ideal. It is the length of the average song. I would suggest if you are linking a couple of songs, to shorten them to combine not much more than three minutes also. It is long enough to seem like a complete part of the evening, however short enough to captivate everyone’s attention throughout.

How long before the wedding should we start practising?
I would aim to have your last session around three weeks before the wedding. That way it isn’t so far in advance that you have forgotten it by the time the big day arrives, however you have still enough time to practice, or to squeeze in another session if necessary.

Above all, the main thing is to enjoy your dance! Many couples tell me afterwards what an enjoyable part of the wedding preparations it has been and something they really worked on together. When dancing as a couple you interact both mentally and physically. What better introduction to a marriage than that!?

Sunday, 19 February 2012

Susannah and Bjorn's first dance - Pictures!

Thought I'd post these awesome pictures of Susannah and Bjorn's first dance! They really are so stunning! Do check out the video here too!

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Susannah and Bjorn's first dance

I was delighted this morning to receive this video of a wedding dance of a couple I did for a couple last summer. Bjorn and Susannah were great fun to work with and wanted lots of dramatic moves and lifts which looked amazing! It made a nice mix with some more classic steps.
They had 2 and a half sessions. Two in their home and the other final rehearsal the day before the wedding when the marque and dance floor were set up which was great for them to be able to practice in the space.
Here is their dance to Michael Buble's 'Feeling Good'. They did so well and I am really proud of them and with them both a very happy marriage.

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Everyone can dance – says the master of street dance (and me!)

One of my favourite TV programmes at the moment is Ashley Banjo’s Secret Street Crew (which is on Sky 1 on Sunday evenings).  Ashley’s mission is to prove that he can get the most unlikely of dancers (so far including a group of darts players and fantasy role play geeks) to get poppin’, locking and body shakin’ like the best of them!  All the rehearsals are done in secret so that their friends and families get a real surprise when it comes to the performance.
Why I probably connect with this programme is that it reminds me of many of the wedding dances and hen party dances that I have choreographed where groups of friends (generally non-dancers) learn an incredible routine to surprise and wow the wedding guests on the big day.   The response from loved ones is always phenomenal and of course, well deserved.
What this tv programme and my personal experiences prove is that Ashley is right and that everyone can dance.  No matter what their background, personality or experience, with a bit of practice and determination, everyone can release their inner dancer (and most importantly, have fun in the process!)
So, if you’re thinking of doing a surprise group wedding dance or getting a group of hens together to learn a routine on your hen do, take inspiration from Banjo’s darts players and geeks and you can impress your family and friends too!

Sunday, 6 November 2011

Designer Wedding Show at Mallory Court Hotel, Leamington Spa. 6th November.

Come along and say hello today at the Mallory Court Hotel's Designer Wedding Show! We will be here all day from 11 - 4pm.

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Wedding Fair at Brampton Heath Golf Centre near Northampton on 2nd October 2011

Come along and meet us on Sunday 2nd October 2011 at Brampton Heath Golf Centre We can put your mind at ease that learning to dance isn't as frightening as you think it will be and that it can be a really fun part of your wedding preprations.

Let us help you make your First Dance a magical and memorable one.

Friday, 15 July 2011

Wanted!! Couple for a free wedding dance lesson!!!

I am hoping to put together a promotional video for You Tube and need a couple willing to be filmed both during a session and on their wedding day of their dance. In return they will receive at least 2 hours worth of private tuition for their first dance. Couples can be of any standard and need not have any previous dance experience, however they should be either local to or willing to travel to Banbury, Oxfordshire. As we are hoping to get the video done soon we are ideally looking for couples getting married this year. See the website or get in touch at

Monday, 11 July 2011

Great first dance shots

There are so many fantastic first wedding dance photos out there I thought I would put together some of my favourites! 

My first favourites are of a couple in Oxford who had wedding dance lessons with me earlier this year Catherine and Chris. They did a fantastic jive and I particularly love the lift shot! We had such fun wedding rock-and-roll style!

I recently came across this picture which really seems to capture the joy the bride and groom were having during their dance! Just shows how you can go wild during your dance if you want!

 Claire and Terry had a lovely traditional waltz to Moon River but couldn't help spicing it up with a few lifts. I particularly like the aerial shot
Photo by Eliza Claire
Photo by Eliza Claire

Speaking of aerial shots - this one is awesome!

I can`t resist the show-off bride and groom shots! Here are some of my favourites........
Photo by Danielle Finley Photography
Photo by Anahi Navarro Photography

And finally the perfect romantic shot - what it is all about!

Photo by Jasmine Star

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Amazing 40% off wedding dance lessons offer!!!

Amazing 40% off wedding dance lessons for couples within 5 miles of Banbury!! This offer is valid for THIS WEEK ONLY! See our website to see all about us, videos and photos of dances and much more.  

Contact us by the end of Sunday to claim this fantastic offer! 

Sunday, 12 June 2011

Ryan and Gemmas First Waltz

Routine learned in only two hours!

It was such fun working with this lovely couple. They wanted to go for a traditional waltz but to a quite modern song, and Gemma had fallen in love with the great Sam Brown song Valentine Moon. It is a great song!

I started by teaching them the basic box step (see earlier post here on how to do this.)  Once they had got the hang of that we started to play around with it and have some fun with the steps. We kept the first verse quite on the spot, then as they had space to work with at the venue, we began to use the floor for the second verse.

By the chorus the confidence was there so we tried some more fancy steps. After a slightly hesitant start they both were up for anything and really picking the steps up quickly.

I was really proud of them for what they achieved in just one session of 2 hours! Check out the video at the end of their rehearsal and also the beautiful picture of their first dance on the big day!

Congratulations Ryan and Gemma. xx


Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Shoes Shoes Shoes!!!

Heels, Flats and More for your wedding and first dance!

So you have found the dress of your dreams! You feel like a princess, but there is one thing every princess needs - her glass slippers!

There are wedding shoes for every bride these days from kitten heels to killer heels and ballet pumps to basketball pumps! Even Wedding Wellies are seen in outdoorsy weddings (see below left by Weddington Boots) - they would be great for a wedding barn-dance!
Brides are not always going for traditional white either with an array of colours peeking out of the skirts sweeping the floor.
A unusual or statement shoe choice is a great way to add flair and quirkyness to the bridal ensemble without compromising on the traditional white dress. These Vivianne Westwood numbers (below centre) have a real flair whilst still being essentially bridal shoes - they even have the something blue!

Comfort must not be overlooked however in the dream for the perfect look. You are going to be in these shoes all day and the you dont want to be hobbling with blisters by the time you get to your first dance! A good rule of thumb is to go with a level of heel you often wear. If you never wear heels then a stiletto is not going to make you comfortable on your day however amazing it makes your legs look - a sprained ankle and a limp will not look so good! If you are not a heels girl there are still some beautiful options - I love these tiny heels (above right) by Irregular Choice.

A small platform is actually quite a sensible choice. It gives height and a great heel whilst raising the toe to keep a smaller difference in height ratio between toe and heel.  There are some fab bridal designs including these crystal encrusted ones (below left) by Crystal Couture. Be careful of killer heels for killing your new hubby's toes though whilst dancing!

A classic bridal shoe however, and probably my favourite, is the ballroom style shoe. There are some great designs and colours out there but they are designed for maximum movement and comfort as well as a flattering but manageable heel. They will stay on too with decent strap designs - no flinging the slingback across the dance floor!  I love these Mimi shoes by Rachel Simpson (below right). Available in pink too!

Overall, here are my pros and cons for both heels and flats:-

Heels - Pros
Brides look taller and more elegant
They lengthen the leg
They compliment most dress styles
They give the feel of special occasion!

Heels - Cons
If you are not used to wearing them they can be very uncomfortable.
If there is any outside activity ie photos the heel could sink into the grass making it awkward to walk.
Treading on the groom's toes during first dance could be painful!
Heels could catch on the dress and rip it.

Flats - Pros
No worrying about sinking into the grass outside.
A lot more comfortable.
You can dance all night!

Flats - ConsThey can make legs look shorter and thicker.
They are sometimes harder to find than heels.
They are not quite as effective in photographs.

A Bit Of Both!

This does seem like the ideal solution - to change half way through from heels into flats. 75% of the brides I have asked have said they intend to change them at some point in the day.  Do bear in mind though the length of your dress. If it has been fitted to touch the ground in heels you my be tripping over it in flats.
One last thing to remember is to practice your First Dance in your shoes! Whether the actual shoes (there is no actual rule about the groom not seeing the shoes before the day, although many would count shoes as part of the dress), or a similar style shoe and heel. It does help the groom to practice in his shoes too. Plus the added bonus of a little breaking in of the footwear to try and avoid new shoe blisters on the big day.

I love the quirkyness of these shoes! 

Friday, 3 June 2011

Capturing the perfect First Dance Photo

The post today is from Wedding Photographer Lesley Pattinson of Memories Thru a Lens. She takes beautiful shots and has very kindly shared her secrets of photographing the perfect First Dance shot with us. You can see more of her work or book her for your special day at

"This photograph was taken at a wedding reception in a marquee near Thame, Oxfordshire.
The documentary wedding photo was taken with my Canon 5D and my 70-200mm lens.
This image was taken at 200th sec @ f5 ISO 320.  I have used flash in this image.

The first dance is an important moment for lots of bride and grooms and it can provide some great photos that help tell the story of your wedding day.

It was a sunny summer day when this image was taken, but being inside a marquee meant it wasn’t all that bright… for my camera anyway.

So as I had been photographing inside the marquee during the reception and speeches I had already decided to up my ISO to 320, this helped lighten the shot to ensure the people in the background of the image could be seen.

My next decision was to set my shutter speed to 200th sec, this is because with the bride and groom dancing I needed a fast shutter speed to freeze them, this ensured I did not get movement blur.
I wanted a little depth of field in this shot, I wanted the focus to be on the brides face and although I wanted the guests behind her to be part of the shot they where the secondary subject, so I opted for f5.
With both the shutter speed, aperture and ISO I had chosen the image was still a little dark.  I did not want to increase the ISO so I decided to use flash.  I didn’t want the flash to be too harsh so luckily being in a big white marquee I had a lot of places to bounce off.   I dialed the flash down by one and then bounced it off the ceiling of the marquee this gave me just the right amount of soft light.

I love the happiness in this image, it captures the true essence of a wedding reception.  Everyone is merry and celebratory, including the bride and groom and that is what I wanted to capture in this particular documentary wedding photograph."

Sunday, 29 May 2011

Videos of Sally’s Hen Dancing Party

Following on from the post and photos of Sally’s Hen Dance Party here are the videos! I thought instead of just showing you the final result I’d pop in some videos of the process of the girls learning the dance!
After our warm up the girls started learning the first few steps.
We then had a try with the music...

Here is the finished routine! Well done Girls - it looks fab!!

 See the photos here!

Friday, 27 May 2011

Sally’s Hen Night Dance Party

Sally has always cut a mean figure on the dance floor so the hens decided that our hen dancing party would be perfect for her.
We began with a warm up to a bit of Gaga. A lot of the hens really didnt know what to expect but they soon got in the groove of things. After a few warm up moves we tried a few dance steps and although some of the girls were a bit unsure of their dance skills I think they surprised themselves with what they could do!
Then it was time to crack on with the routine! After much previous deliberation the hens decided that Groove Is In The Heart by Deelite would be a perfect choice for a song.

I like to mix in some fun patterns as well as moves in a routine and so everyone got into positions (with Sally the hen at the front of course) and the hens danced their hears out for the next 45 minutes. 

Break time! We broke open the bubbly and began to accessorise! The girls had lots of laughs trying on all the bits and bobs. I always enjoy the diversity of styles everyone comes up with when they dress up!

It was then time for the final performance! I was so impressed by how much everyone had learned in an couple of hours and how well they worked as a team. Well done girls!!

All in all it was a great fun evening and start to the big hen weekend!


Thursday, 26 May 2011

Bridesmaids and Ushers Wedding Dance

The Video!

Last week I posted about the Bridesmaids and Ushers surprise wedding dance for the bride and groom (here). I promised a video and it arrived yesterday so here it is! I'm so so proud of them all! It looks like the guests absolutely loved it too!!

It was a great fun project and I really enjoyed meeting and working with all the guys and girls.