The wedding first dance is the part of the wedding reception that makes a lot of couples nervous, but easy wedding first dance choreography from a wedding dance pro takes that experience from frightening to fun (and dare I say fantastic)! If you and your partner are anxious about your first dance then working with a wedding choreographer is a great idea. I had the opportunity to speak with Suzie Hardt (aka The Wedding Choreographer) about how she helps couples prepare and enjoy their first dance as a married couple. Read on to find out how easy wedding first dance choreography can work for you, too.
As a wedding choreographer, what are the primary ways you are able to help couples?
I keep things streamlined. First we work on hearing the beat. My approach to easy wedding first dance choreography starts with simple footwork. Then we’ll add in some basic turns and work on developing a style. We might create an entry then 1 to 2 flashy things in the middle and end with a dip.
I really focus on serving my clients. My primary goal is to keep it fun and make the dance manageable while staying true to the style. I can choreograph any style – even disco. I once worked with a couple who wanted to re-create something they had seen on So You Think You Can Dance!
I feel it’s important to collaborate with people and find methods that work best for them. I help my couples choose the right music, and choreograph a dance that feels comfortable.
Does a couple’s level of dance experience matter?
Not at all! Many people come to their first lesson and say “I can’t dance.” They are nervous and quiet. Instead, I tell them to think of it as an opportunity to open a new door of fun in your relationship. Once you start learning you realize dancing isn’t that hard and it’s actually quite fun. You’ll soon see the longterm benefits of easy wedding first dance choreography: from now on, anywhere you go, you can dance and have fun with your partner.
What is the biggest mistake couples make when planning their first dance?
Often couples come to their lessons feeling like they have to be perfect. They also expect to practice outside of the lesson but this doesn’t usually happen. I try to remind couples that part of the lesson is review, getting the movement in your body through repetition. People think if they can learn a dance intellectually that translates into your body but it doesn’t work that way, which can be frustrating. It’s important to have patience with yourself. Your mind learns first but it takes the body a while to catch up. If you’re not athletic or experienced in dance it takes a while to learn the skills. It’s all about the experience!
What are some of the added benefits of working with a wedding choreographer?
First of all you take away the stress from worrying about your first dance! This is especially true for guys. Instead of being stressed you’ll actually look forward to it.
Many couples find that their dance lessons become restful, relaxing, and fun. It’s also a great way to connect. One couple I worked with had very little time together because he worked the night shift and she worked the day shift. They spent their little free time together learning to dance.
When you get up there for your wedding first dance you’re starting the party – the first dance is the transition, and a way to connect with your guests. They’ll see you up there dancing effortlessly, thanks to your easy wedding first dance choreography, and they’ll want to join you. You’re essentially giving others permission to have fun and dance! All eyes are on you and it’s your job to inspire and invite. A good wedding choreographer helps that happen. Choosing the right music for your first dance is critical. Sometimes people pick a song they like that may not be the best for that moment because it’s too slow or serious. I help them pick a song that moves things towards the goal of getting the party started.
Tell us your favorite success story!
I worked with a 75-year-old man who wanted to do a father/daughter dance. He had never danced before and had a hard time hearing the beat. But he really wanted to learn and devoted himself to practicing. I saw him go from no coordination, and no beat to dancing three different styles to three songs! He later showed me a video of the day, and he was so pleased with himself. This is the power of easy wedding first dance choreography.
Anything else to share?
Think about where the dancing will happen. I’ve seen weddings where the dance floor was either too small or not clearly defined. Remember to factor in your fun!
Suzie Hardt has been dancing and performing competitive ballroom dance and Latin American dancing for 23 years and has choreographed a number pieces for the stage, including. Suzie was a principal dancer for the movie “Swing,” starring Jaqueline Bisset and performed for several years with salsa troupe Tribue Nueva. In addition to the partner dances, she has studied a wide variety of dance and movement forms including African dance, ballet, flamenco, modern dance, contact improvisation, hip hop, Pilates, and karate. She presently owns and operates community dance space Suzie’s Studio in San Rafael, where she teaches ballroom, Latin, swing, and improvisation in partnership. Her book Moving As Two: A Guide for Ballroom Dancers is available on Amazon. She and her husband, Todd Marsden, are a performing duo, a Tall Order; the 6’8” and 6’ tall couple perform regularly for diverse audiences around the Bay Area and are known for their entertaining dance style, glamorous costumes, versatility, and innovative choreography. Todd and Suzie were swing dancers in the PBS swing documentary, “Big Band Magic” and featured Latin dancers in pianist composer Faranak’s music video ” Spanish Lover.” NBC flew them to New York to perform as ballroom dancers with their comedy tango routine “The Chickentango”, which appeared on NBC’s America’s Got Talent, Season 8. Todd and Suzie are 4 times and current United States Amateur Senior 1 ten dance ballroom and Latin champions, and represented the United States at the World Championships in Mallorca, Spain in 2010, in Toronto, Canada in 2011, and in Antwerp, Belgium in 2013.
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