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.


Sunday, 22 May 2011

Picking your First Song for a Wedding First Dance

Picking the right first song for your wedding is a difficult decision. For some couples it is an obvious personal song – the first song you ever danced to for example, or the song that was playing when he proposed. For others it is a lot harder choice when no song immediately leaps to mind. An other factor that sometimes enters the mix is whether you use the track of the song or have the band play it, and whether the band are prepared to learn the song or if you have to use something from their repertoire.
The most important factor to consider is what the song means to you. Don’t think too much about what anyone else will like – it is your important song and should reflect your preferences. Saying that it is best not to choose anything offensive or with risqué lyrics!
On the subject of lyrics it is important to really listen to what the artist is saying. Some songs seem on the surface to be really suitable until you really listen to them. An example of this would be the song ‘Making Whoopee’ which I heard sung at a wedding recently. The start of the song is great “Another bride, another groom another lucky honeymoon”, however by the second verse “she feels neglected and he’s suspected of making whoopee”! Not really that suitable in the end!
Tempo is another thing to consider. Although many couples think a slow song is an easy choice, a very slow song can be difficult to keep in time to the music with if neither partner has any previous dance of musical experience . A classic slow song can be beautiful though and there are some lovely choices out there.
Something a little more uptempo is another choice – a jive, cha cha or latin feel perhaps, or maybe just something you can groove to. I recently worked with a couple who chose Groove Is In The Heart which we had a lot of fun with.
Another option is to go all out with a really unusual choice. Recently 2 separate couples have used the song ‘All I want is You’ by Barry Louis Polisar from the film Juno. It is a really quirky country 2 step feel but really does have lovely lyrics.  I have also recently done Chris Brown’s ‘Forever’ and even ‘Ice Ice Baby’!!
A lot more couples a starting to mix songs together. This works really well when a couple want a classic slow dance but also want to go a bit wild too!
I’ve listed a few recent songs and popular choices, however it really is a personal decision. I hope this helps you find the right song for you!

Classic Slow Songs
Rule the World - Take That
Have I Told You Lately That I Love You
From This Moment On - Shania Twain
Chasing Cars - Snow Patrol
You're in My Heart - Rod Stewart
What a difference a day makes - Various
All the Time In The World - Louis Armstrong
Feel My Love - Adele
As the World Falls Down - David Bowie
Greatest Day - Take That
I Will Always Love You - Whitney Houston
Thank-you for Loving Me - Bon Jovi
I Just Called to Say I Love You - Stevie Wonder
One Day Like This – Elbow

Up beat - Cha-chas Quicksteps etc.
I'm your Man - Wham
Stand By Me - Ben E. King
You and Me Song - Wannadies
Groove is in the Heart - Deee Lite
My First My Last My Everything - Barry White
For Once in My Life - Stevie Wonder
Everything - Michael Buble
Wouldn't it be Nice - Beach Boys
Your Love Keeps Lifting Me Higher - Jackie Wilson
Can't Take My Eyes off of You - Andy Williams

See my previous post on waltzes here

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Website Revamp!

Bit of a short post today as I have been at the laptop ALL DAY working on a complete overhall of my website. Nothing really drastic but just trying to clean up a few bits and make it a nicer place to visit. Consequently my kitchen is not a nicer place to visit and so away to the washing up I must now go before a few hours sleep (please teething baby!?). Actually I'm lucky I have baby or laptop at all as we are down to the spare power cord after the little terror sucked it earlier and the power is no more. Happily baby is fine!

Anyway, do take a look at the (nearly finished) new site and let me know what you think!

Monday, 16 May 2011

Wedding First Dance..... by the bridesmaids and ushers!

Warning: wedding dance lessons may become addictive!!!

This time last year I worked with a really lovely couple C and P for their wedding dance. Their first song was Everything by Michael Buble. We had a really fun time with the lessons and I'm told the dance went really well.  But it didn't end there.....

A few months later I had a call from P wanting a surprise routine for a friend's wedding. This turned into 18 of the ushers and stags performing a River Dance the likes of which you've never seen!! More to come on this another time!

Then, a month or so ago C emailed asking if I was up for choreographing a surprise routine for her sisters wedding! This time it would be involving the 10 bridesmaids and ushers! Well of course I was up for it! They chose 3 songs that we linked together - around a minute of each so a quite reasonable 3 minutes in total. We were to have 3 rehearsals, however only 4 girls and 1 boy could come to the first, 1 girl and all the boys to the second, then hopefully everyone together for the last rehearsal the day before the wedding! Everyone was coming from all over, with a few coming from London and one girl from as far as County Durham! Everyone really made the effort to get to the lessons but it was quite a mission for C organising everyone.

In rehearsal
When the girls and one very brave guy turned up for the first rehearsal they were right up for the challenge though! Our first song was Wannabe by the Spice Girls. I started with the girls who got into the swing of things really easily, then I couldn't resist putting my one boy on the spot for some hips and 'zig a zig ah' action! A great sport - he gave his all!

What stars!
The next song was Take That 'Relight My Fire'. I wanted to do partner work for that song as I felt with 5 guys and girls it would be lovely to see them dancing together in hold. This was going to be tricky until the last rehearsal though until we has everyone together, so we outlined the steps then moved on to the last song.

With Beyonce's 'All The Single Ladies' (guess who chose the songs - the girls or guys!?) it was never going to be anything but camp and I wasn't about to let the guys off the hook! To give them their due when it came to the guys' rehearsal they were right up for it! (Perhaps worryingly so!)
Two separate lessons with pretty much half the 'cast' for each and we had a good outline of how it would go. All we had to do was put it together in the final rehearsal when we had everyone together.

The final performance!
The day of our last lesson the day before the wedding came, however I had a personal minor disaster - my other half had a crisis at work and had to work late. This meant I was suddenly without childcare. Eventually I found a good friend's hubby to step in to look after my toddler, but my baby had been proving very clingy and too high maintainence to burden on anyone but family. The only thing to do was to take him along! I warned everyone who all seemed fine with it so along he came! Actually the clingyness is partially my own doing as I use a sling to carry him on my back a lot of the time and he likes the closeness. Consequently when we arrived at the studio I just popped him on my back and danced around as normal! Pretty much what I do when choreographing routines in my kitchen really! Everyone thought it was a funny sight but he loved the music. After a while he sat and watched and was a very appreciative audience!

The other problem that cropped up was unsurprisingly a traffic jam on the M25. What was surprising was that it only affected one guy and by a massive stroke of luck a regular 'swing' dancer,  Although it wasn't ideal, I wasn't too worried about him fitting in with the rest as he was a pretty confident dancer - particularly in partner work.

Put a ring on it!
By the end of the final practice everyone looked so great - I was so proud of them! A couple of the guys really surprises themselves with what they could do!

A week on from the wedding last week I received an email from C. Apparently the dance went down a storm! I love the photos - everyone looks like they're having such fun!
And as for C and P  - they're trying to find another excuse for a wedding dance! I hope so - they have the most fun projects!

Watch the video here!!!

Friday, 13 May 2011

First Dance Lesson: How to do the Waltz

The waltz actually caused a bit of a scandal when it was first danced! Dancing for the nobility at the time (late 1700s) was done in an ‘open’ fashion ie the couples did not embrace. ‘Closed’ dances were danced at the time only by peasants and were considered lewd! The waltz even forbidden for a time in some countries until it was permitted under strict guidelines:-

1.    "Both men and women must be dressed decently for the waltz."

2.    "No man might dance in breeches and doublet without a coat."

3.    "Women and girls must not be thrown about."

The waltz is now one of the most popular ballroom dances today and is an excellent choice for a wedding first dance. It is danced to ¾ time with the emphasis on the first beat – 1 2 3, 1 2 3, etc.

So how do you do a waltz!?
The most basic of steps in a waltz is the box step. Just as the name suggests, the feet make a box or square pattern on the floor.
A box step can be divided into two parts - a forward half box and a backward half box. Each half box has three steps - a step forward or backward, a step to the side, and a step to close the feet together.

The man starts with the left foot and executes a forward half box, followed by a backward half box. The lady performs the opposite – she starts with the right foot and executes a backward half box, followed by a forward half box.

Man: Start with your feet in the 5 6 position on the diagram.
1.    Step forward with the left foot
2.    Right foot step sideways to the right
3.    Bring your left foot next to your right foot
4.    Step back with the right foot
5.    Step back sideways with the left foot
6.    Bring your right foot next to your left foot

Lady: Start with your feet in the 5 6 position on the diagram facing the man.
1.    Step back with the right foot
2.    Left foot step sideways to the left
3.    Bring your right foot next to your left foot
4.    Step forward with the left foot
5.    Step forward sideways with the right foot
6.    Bring your left foot next to your right foot

Some song suggestions for a waltz for a first wedding dance would be…

Valentine Moon – Sam Brown
Moon River – various
Come away with me – Norah Jones
If you don’t know me by now – Simply Red
Three Times a Lady - The Commodores
You Light Up My Life - Debbie Boone
Kiss from a Rose – Seal
Edelweiss – various
Hello Young Lovers – various
So This is Love – Disney
Can I have this dance – from High School Musical
The Blue Danube – instrumental
Que Sera sera
Piano man – Billy Joel
Gymnopedie – Eric Satie
Amazing Grace
Around the World
Cherie I Love You – Nat King Cole
Could I have this dance – Anne Murray
All Kinds Of Everything
Crown of Love -  Arcade  Fire

See here for more great first song ideas!

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Interview: Nikki - Take The Floor's teacher for the Yorkshire area gives us her top tips for wedding dances.

Wedding dances in Yorkshire
It’s been a busy month for Take The Floor wedding dances in Yorkshire as the wedding season starts to kick in.  We’ve had couples wanting to learn slow, intimate dances, couples learning more up tempo numbers to get the party going and couples incorporating ushers and bridesmaids into their first dance to make a real wedding dance extravaganza!   Here are some top tips for Yorkshire couples who want to make their first dance extra special:

Top tips for Yorkshire wedding dances:

1)    Pick a good song – Ideally choose a song that means something to you both but that also has a good, regular beat so that you can easily dance to it. 

2)    Start your wedding dance lessons early but not too early – It’s good to have your last wedding dance lesson about 2 - 3 weeks before your wedding. That way it's near enough to remember it well but far enough away so that an extra session or half session can be squeezed in if necessary.

3)    Practice, Practice, Practice - is very important between your wedding dance lessons to help you feel relaxed and comfortable on your big day.  It doesn’t have to be formal practice – just a quick run through while the kettle’s boiling, or just practising the parts of the dance you find trickier. 

4)    Create lasting memories – Ask your wedding dance teacher for some moves that will make memorable photos  – perhaps some lifts, dips turns, anything that makes you both look amazing for that special photo for your mantelpiece!

5)    Have fun – often find that wedding dance lessons can be a relief from the other stresses of wedding planning and are surprised how much they enjoy them.  Wedding dance lessons give you time together as a couple but also help you to enjoy your big day so much more and give you the confidence to go out and wow your wedding guests. 

Monday, 9 May 2011

Emma and Perry's first dance

Emma & Perry chose a couple of great choices for their first songs. The first I hadn’t heard since watching the Labyrinth as a child ‘As The World Falls Down’  by David Bowie. A really unusual but lovely choice. We then linked this half way through into ‘Born To Hand Jive' which was certainly a lot of fun!

Emma had already had some dance experience as a child so she was relatively confident with some basic moves. The groom made up in boundless energy and enthusiasm in anything he may have lacked in experience - I ‘m sure he has certainly strutted his funky stuff on the dance floor a good few times!

We started with the David Bowie song. Contrary to what couples think it is often a lot harder the slower the song. This was a mid tempo for a slow number but it took a little while initially to get the hang of some of the more traditional ballroom steps. We spiced it up with a few fancy steps too and Emma surprised herself with a fabulous back-bend in Perry’s arms! By the end of the first session this song was done. The couple couldn’t resist showing me their ideas and a few of their ‘signature moves’ for the rock and roll number though before I left! I could tell we would be having fun next time!

The next session was a glorious summer’s evening so we thought we’d make the most of it and move to the garden. We seemed to race through this number – it seemed to choreograph itself! Perry was full of ideas and even wanted to use a prop – a comb to pull out of his jacket and pose with doing his hair half way through! We found enough time to go back to the first dance and even added a lift now we had the outside space.

They complimented each other well in the way they danced – Emma’s experience and good timing pulled back Perry’s over excitement at times and they would chat through the routine to remind each other of what was coming next. This is something I encourage in wedding dances. Of course in strict ballroom competition chatting would be no go, but there is no Craig Revel Horwood holding up the scorecard from the bar for a first dance! It is lovely to see a couple interacting as they dance socially.

The last session we had an hour to tweak odd bits and just generally polish the routine, which should have been smooth sailing. Instead, the bride had had a dress fitting and found out she couldn’t move backwards in the dress! We began to adapt a few of the steps to make sure she always moved forwards, then the heavens opened so we had to race inside! Fortunately it was only the first routine that needed the main changes and just a few steps so it didn’t take too long. We managed to run the whole finalised routine around 5 times before I left.

Emma and Perry told me afterwards that it all went perfectly to plan!  Do check out the video they sent me (above)! I was so proud of them and it looked like everyone loved it including the couple!

Sunday, 8 May 2011

Blog Organisation

A recent couple in rehearsal
I’m not usually too much of an organised person. I have fingers in so many different pies – running this my main business Take The Floor (wedding dance lessons); running the sister business Come To My Party (hen nights and childrens entertainment); singing with the acoustic duo Applejack, teaching street dance,  editing the Banbury NCT magazine, and above all running circles around my 2 crazy boys (7 months and 2 and a half). My other half despairs! I half finish the housework and leave open cupboard doors – ‘but the baby needed feeding half way through’ I protest! The fact is, although I can multitask (feed baby and update website no probs!) I am easily distracted and need lists and instructions to get me through!
So with my newly formed blogging intentions I thought I’d better give it some order to try sustain the habit.

  • Mondays - Couples Profiles.  I’ll focus on couples I have taught who have had their big day. I’ll follow them from rehearsals to the first dance itself and see how it all went. 
  • Wednesdays - Interview Day.  I’ll speak with other local wedding photographers, dress suppliers, wedding bands etc. 
  •  Fridays - Tips and Tricks. 
  • I’ll outline how to do the basic steps of some popular dances such as the Waltz and Salsa
  • I’ll list the current most popular wedding first songs for first dances
  • plus lots more top tips for wedding dances.

Those will be the regulars although I’m sure there’ll be bits and bobs popped in from time to time too. Make sure you subscribe or follow me to be kept in the know!

Now, I just need to find a way to help me remember put the lid back on the bread bin!

Saturday, 7 May 2011

Local Wedding Suppliers

I have recently begun to ‘tweet’! I am very new to the whole affair and very much finding my way around, but in looking for ‘tweeps’ to follow, it has struck me how many great local wedding businesses there are around.

As a wedding dance teacher I am often one of the last in on the act in wedding preparation – either when the Bride / Groom suddenly acquires fancy ideas, or just as frequently when it hits the Groom / Bride (usually in that order) that they can’t escape that long three minutes on the dance floor and that they might as well have a few tricks up their sleeve! It is also best to leave it later for dance lessons as there is no point in having a fabulous routine a year in advance only to have completely forgotten it by the big day!

Because dancing is later on the list however,  I usually only work alongside the band and maybe the photographer. Consequently up until now I have had little contact with the rest of the wedding team.
I thought I’d mention here a few of my new found associates and I hope to share ideas and generally the fun of weddings a little more closely now I am  entwined in this social media jungle!
Just a quick mention to a few today, but I hope soon to put a list of all my faves together for the Oxfordshire / Warwickshire / Northamptonshire / couples.

So anyway, a big hello to the following…..

Friday, 6 May 2011

Wedding Dresses

I’ve been thinking of wedding dresses a lot in the last couple of weeks. Of course it has been the talk of the town with the Royal Wedding, and Kate’s dress certainly did not disappoint. I wonder if they were having a First Dance however and how that magnificent train would have hitched up?

Dress: Katherine Allen Bridal,  Banbury 
I had a phone call last week from a bride who, after 2 lessons with me and a fab finished routine, suddenly discovered upon a final fitting of her dress that she couldn’t raise her left arm above her shoulder. We chatted through things for a half hour or so – me dancing around the kitchen with my baby in my left arm (now out of action for her), and the phone wedged between neck and ear and flailing around the other arm. We found alternatives, whilst she followed my steps in her kitchen on the other end of the phone! It was actually fine and very easily tweakable in the end but a last minute minor panic that needn’t have been necessary if we’d have known what the dress could do in the first place.

Similarly a bride a couple of months ago suddenly discovered she couldn’t walk backwards due to the train. Luckily we still had another lesson and the steps were easily changed.

It is worth finding out the limitations of your dress though – whether you plan on having a first dance or not. It is a long wonderful day and although you realise that you will be moving a lot differently than if you were in jeans and a t shirt, there are still lots of things you will want to be doing. Realising the limitations of your movement in advance allows you to plan how you will do things. When teaching couples I constantly have to remind them (particularly the groom often taking vast strides around the room!) – that heels and a frock will be brought into the equation. This often leads to teasing the groom about Princess Di style frocks or mini dresses!

The dress of your dreams is often one of the most important factors of a wedding and should be fully embraced, but don’t forget to get to know it a little before your wonderful day.

PS. This goes for grooms too – don’t forget to check those new shoes for slipperiness!

Thursday, 5 May 2011

Upping the Blogging!

Well I realise after good intentions to start it has been rather a while since my last first couple of blogs!
I am now determined to up this a bit so watch for lots more coming up!
I hope in the next few weeks to...

  • Look back on some recent dances I have done.
  • Put a list together of the current most popular 'first songs' I get asked to put a first dance together for.
  • Include some photos of recent couples. 
  • Interview recent couples to find out how their dance went. 
  • Give some useful tips on your first dance
  • Add video of both rehearsals and the final event!
Keep coming back and watch this space!