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!