Saturday, October 5, 2013

What Does the First Dance Symbolize?

The Most Sacred Ritual of the Wedding Reception – The First Dance
By Deborah Joy Block, National Wedding Dance Expert

TWDS Founders Deborah and Brian Block's First Dance - Tango
Whether you are a spiritual, religious and conservative or a secular hippy bride and groom or somewhere in between - you all share one thing in common - your joy for dance. The only difference is when and how you do it. You’ve made a big investment in many aspects of the wedding day that will only last one day but will live on in your memories and album– with one exception – your dance lessons. The cake will be eaten, the flowers will die, the gown will be preserved or sold but learning to dance is a small investment in your actual relationship which lives on and evolves. "Partner" dancing is a life skill useful for future special occasions or even just tender moments in your living room on a rainy night! Our students say their dancing date nights are the most fun and romantic time they have during the wedding planning process and our couples tell us that the First Dance is the most sentimental moment of the reception too!
Dance is incorporated into many cultures at weddings and is expressed in various ways depending on the level of religious observance. Many modern and westernized couples want rituals that express their unity and are seeking ways to grow closer through this unique, private and romantic learning experience. On the big day, they are seizing the opportunity to confidently sparkle in the spotlight while personalizing their celebration through their own creative expression. For these insightful couples, the First Dance is often the highlight of the reception, and the most vivid wedding memory guests recall since actions speak louder than words.

There are lots of aspects of the wedding that can be outsourced - - the bakery, the caterer, the florist, the event planner. In more modest conservative traditions dancing may be segregated by gender and the couple spends quiet time alone to physically represent their unity but in both cases "partner" dancing is still applicable and beneficial to learn for the couple's private use and public interaction with guests of the same gender because it is compatible with a wide variety of cultural music styles. Wedding preparation should also include any applicable  folk dances to bond the guests. In Western weddings, the most noteworthy and vital components that validate and authenticate a wedding are the vows and First Dance. The public and legally binding vows verbally profess the couple’s intentions to be supportive and loyal to each other. The First Dance is the first marital act that physically proves a couple’s ability to be supportive of one another. After all, you are not going to recite your vows to each other every day of your marriage but instead you will prove your sincerity through your actions both big and small. Just as couples attend a rehearsal to prepare for their ceremony, it is vital to dedicate some time in advance before making their public debut in the spotlight as a married couple. By exercising teamwork and patience during private rehearsals and ultimately for public display, the couple “moves as one” on the dance floor and a promise is sealed and delivered. For this reason, the First Dance is the most sacred ritual of the wedding reception.

For less than the price of Cinderella's glass slipper, couples can sparkle in the spotlight instead of being all dressed up with no place to go once they reach the ballroom floor. With a little preparation, you can turn the most sentimental moment into the most memorable moment for you and your guests! Whether Cinderella's fairytale is being swept off her feet in the spotlight and paparazzi or in the privacy of the bridal chamber - we can help transform your groom into Prince Charming!
TWDS students Greg and Shelley Webb

The Wedding Dance Specialists is the premiere national expert of the wedding dance industry. Deborah Joy and Brian Block founded the company in 2000, while engaged and preparing their own "First Dance." Year after year,The Wedding Dance Specialists remain the most recommended wedding dance company according to engaged couples, wedding vendors and the media.  The company has taught over 10,000 engaged couples. Appearing repeatedly on Oprah Winfrey's Oxygen Network, The Wedding Dance Specialists and their students starred on an episode of "Real Weddings by the Knot", the nation's first wedding reality show. In addition to attracting celebrity clientele, The Wedding Dance Specialists were the nations original wedding dance company and have since inspired an entire niche industry that has expanded worldwide!

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Help! My Partner Dreads Dancing Part II : Ten Tips to Overcome Dance Floor Dread

by Deborah Joy Block, National Wedding Dance Expert

In Part 1 of this blog I discussed the common problem I encounter on a regular basis of students (mainly grooms) but sometimes brides expressing serious reservations about dancing, learning to dance and dancing in the spotlight. I explain that dancing has historically been a primal expression of joy and a way for a community to come together in celebration. Although most people end up having fun after they feel empowered I cannot guarantee a good time because 1. I can't control anyone's emotions and 2. it's above my pay grade. However, it IS my job to make you look good in front of your guests and the cameras and I can certainly guarantee good results IF you stick with the program. It's important to first find out WHY your partner is feeling the way he is so that you will know which angle to approach him/her from. So here are a few strategies I recommend trying when dealing with a reticent dance partner. Follow these 10 tips and yo will be dancing and romancing in no time!


1. Validate his/her feelings - Fear is normal. Do not allow yourself to be defeated by it. Live a little!

A Bride's Fears:


“During the wedding planning period, which is inherently stressful, I learned something important about myself: outside of work I really do lack confidence. I was uncomfortable being celebrated as a bride, and the dance lessons brought up a lot of unexpected feelings. Deborah Joy was so cool and supportive, even sending me an encouraging email after one of our sessions. She taught me techniques that enhanced my confidence and pride as a woman. She made us both feel important. We are truly grateful.” makerr, Wedding: 8/4/2012

A Groom's Fears:
So tomorrow [which is tonight for all y'all readers] it all begins.  I am not looking forward to it.  Put me on a baseball field, a football field, or a basketball court and I have all the coordination in the world.  Put me on a dance floor and it's not that i have two left feet.  I'd more say i have no feet at all, just two legs cemented into the ground, with the occasional bend at the knee.
I figure there are three things that can come out of this first lesson:
1.  The instructor realizes I am completely hopeless and asks us not to waste anymore of her time
2.  Amy realizes I am completely hopeless and decides that we shouldn't waste anymore of the instructor's time
3.  The instructor miraculously is able to teach me to keep some sort of rhythm

I think it will be 1 or 2.  I hope the instructor realizes what she's getting into.  Wish me luck. 

2. Give him/her an out - I recommend that nervous grooms approach the whole thing as just a fun learning opportunity and that if he decided at that last minute that he is not comfortable going through with it then change the focus entirely to dancing for fun instead of dancing in the spotlight.  Change the direction of the lessons to focus on how he can learn to transform the same moves into fast dancing when he is not in the spotlight for general dancing, future social events, the honeymoon (or even just in your living room on a rainy night! ;)) Whether he chooses to learn to dance before or after the wedding he should know that dance lessons are  a safe space, working with a professional, with nobody judging him.  It’s an opportunity for the two of you to explore and grow from a new challenge together that ultimately brings you closer. After he has relaxed and started to enjoy himself, have the instructor video you both doing your "First Stand" as the high school prom sway and make him watch the WHOLE dance from his audience's perspective. This combined approach should be enough to convince and compell him to want to continue learning the spotlight dance too.

3. Find a support group - Read testimonials by other grooms on review sites or check out the blog diary of one of my couples  from both the bride and groom’s perspective on their dance lessons. Maybe reading this will be helpful to your groom:
http://www.relentlessbride.com/search/label/He%20Said%20She%20Said

4. Seeing is believing - If the Groom's diary doesn't help, I suggest videotaping yourselves doing the high school prom sway for the whole length of your song and see how it feels and then watch the whole thing from your audience's perspective. See how long you can bear to watch the zombie sway. Or have him watch some simple routines on YouTube to show him other Grooms who were brave enough to take the plunge.

5. Good old fashioned guilt - The bride is generally responsible for the majority of the wedding planning and has to endure the most stress. The First Dance is the Groom's project because he is the Leader on the dance floor so it's the least he can do.

6. Sex sells - Guys who can dance are chick magnets because dancing is an aphrodisiac for women. I call it "Floorplay." So really flirt with him on the dance floor, serenade him, shower him with kisses, run your fingers through his hair, caress him, smile and wink to show your delight with how he is making you feel.  Talk to him with your hips instead of with your lips! But save something for the honeymoon...Dancing is floorplay not "all the way!"

7. Let the teacher be the bad guy - Brides, avoid the temptation to correct your Groom, back lead the steps, micromanage or criticize, anticipate the moves or even give him clues. He has to learn not to rely on you as a crutch so that he doesn't panic under pressure. Give him the space to learn how to become a trained dancer under the watchful eye of a trained and seasoned professional who can objectively provide feedback without the emotional connection. Perhaps the Groom is bristling about lessons because tension rises between you during the learning process or during practice sessions. Be sure to read our "Practice Makes Perfect" tips and let the teacher be the mediator during the lessons. Dance lessons are like pre-marital counseling so practice your teamwork skills! 

8. Make it fun! Take the pressure off of the groom by reassuring him that you are not attached to the outcome. Keep the lessons a secret to reduce the expectations so that your dance floor debut is a pleasant surprise for your guests. The Groom will likely be the expert in the room by the time he finishes his lessons and nobody even knows what he rehearsed. However things turn out you are just grateful that he is making the effort and you are proud of him for trying. Remind him that you are thrilled to be marrying your soul mate and best friend and even if you just use your dance moves at home, it will be a romantic gift. Couples have enough stress planning the wedding, dance lessons should be the most fun aspect!

9. Let the Groom lead! It is tremendously liberating once a man realizes that he is the pilot and you are the passenger. Once he has total control over the situation and clear roles are established I usually see tremendous relief wash over the mens' faces because they realize that this will not be a power struggle or another "compromise." Instead it is his project that he can take ownership of and take pride in creating a magical experience for the Bride. Although there are clear patterns and processes and black and white  at the end of the day he is still right even when he is wrong. So if he dances off beat ladies, just dance to the beat of his heart!  

10. Leave it to the pros - If all of your cajoling fails, perhaps he needs professional intervention. Have him read Part 1 and Part 2 of this article or encourage him to call your instructor and have an open, honest and candid discussion of his fears and concerns. Instructors have heard every reservation, objection and excuse in the book and may be able to talk him down off the ledge. Maybe if given the chance, your instructor can help your groom face the music and dance!

The Wedding Dance Specialists is the premiere national expert of the wedding dance industry. Deborah Joy and Brian Block founded the company in 2000, while engaged and preparing their own "First Dance." Year after year,The Wedding Dance Specialists remain the most recommended wedding dance company according to engaged couples, wedding vendors and the media.  The company has taught over 10,000 engaged couples. Appearing repeatedly on Oprah Winfrey's Oxygen Network, The Wedding Dance Specialists and their students starred on an episode of "Real Weddings by the Knot", the nation's first wedding reality show. In addition to attracting celebrity clientele, The Wedding Dance Specialists were the nations original wedding dance company and have since inspired an entire niche industry that has expanded worldwide!

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Help! My Groom Dreads Dancing!


by Deborah Joy Block, Founder of The Wedding Dance Specialists


A sad thing happened this week. It has only happened once before in my 16 year career as a wedding dance instructor. I had a groom slip through the cracks. He came in for one visit and then his fiance contacted me to say he was too nervous about the idea of dancing to go forward with the lessons. I was proud of him for being open enough to come to the studio because stepping through the door is often the hardest part for men. But his self doubt overpowered his trust in me as a professional. Sometimes we are our own worst enemy. Unfortunately, I don't think he realizes that the awkward high school prom sway for 4 minutes in front of 200 people is not a desirable alternative either especially when this "photo op" is costing $5000 in photography and $2000 worth of videography. Cutting the "bear hug sway" down to 90 seconds isn't fooling anyone. It just says that you are all dressed up with no place to go. Torturing your guests with the "zombie sway" means you've become another dance floor casualty. Since the Groom is the leader on the dance floor doing nothing demonstrates that you have put no thought or effort into the Bride's "Cinderella" moment in the spotlight. 

I have surveyed thousands of couples and I have found that the majority of the time the bride is burdened with projects and shoulders the majority of the stress of wedding planning. The First  Dance is  the Groom's project. It's his job to show her off, make her feel treasured and special and keep her safe. That requires preparation. Just remember one thing when your nerves get the best of you - You are supposed to suck when you first start something new. You do not have to have faith in your own natural talent. Dancing is a learned skill like everything else, the skills are not acquired by just rolling out of bed. So just have faith in the talent and expertise of your teacher and when you are ready they will let you know. After all, they have a reputation to keep up to and have an incentive to make you look good. There are countless reasons a person can conjure up to talk him/herself out of dance lessons but for every reason not to there is another good reason to go for it!

The dance lessons are a vulnerable space where couples learn about themselves and their partnership. The couples also feel pressurized because they are often juggling major undertakings such as full time jobs, graduate school, moving house plus wedding planning! They carve out precious time to prepare for their debut as Man and Wife which is expressed through The First Dance. And it is our honor to be trusted with the awesome responsibility of someone's public debut especially because the First Dance is the most sacred ritual of the wedding reception. After all, actions speak louder than words. It is the physical manifestation of your ceremony vows of unity and with a little preparation it becomes the highlight for the couple and the guests. It is also the most magical and exquisitely romantic moment of the whole reception. It breaks my heart when people surrender to their fear.

For many cultures dancing is the most primal collective expression of joy  and I certainly love sharing my passion for dance with couples! At least half of my grooms are very excited about learning and view the wedding as the perfect excuse and opportunity to finally be rico suave on the dance floor! However, many grooms in our culture are not enthusiastic about dancing. Some are bitter. Some are terrified and feel like a lamb being taken to the slaughter. Some just do it to make the bride happy. Men in American culture are not generally raised with dancing so when they are confronted with it on their wedding day it is uncomfortable because they are afraid of looking silly in front of others. That is the whole purpose of lessons. To get comfortable behind closed doors before being in the spotlight. Often brides are nervous too but if anyone is dreading the experience it is generally the groom. I had one man introduce himself to me  as, “Terrified" instead of his name when shaking my hand. I had another groom refuse to look me in the eye, talk or smile for 5 hours and yet another groom was actually extorted into taking the lessons by his Father in law. But in my 15 years of experience working with nervous grooms all of them felt empowered and more confident after the experience and most of them had a new perspective about dancing in general. By the way, both grooms I mentioned earlier did a spectacular job during their First Dance and had terrific video and photos to capture the moment! 

Click here for Part II - Ten Tips to Overcome Dance floor Dread-  http://weddingdance411.blogspot.com/search?updated-min=2013-01-01T00:00:00-08:00&updated-max=2014-01-01T00:00:00-08:00&max-results=4

To learn about our upcoming Wedding Dance Boot Camps click here!

The Wedding Dance Specialists is the premiere national expert of the wedding dance industry. Deborah Joy and Brian Block founded the company in 2000, while engaged and preparing their own "First Dance." Year after year,The Wedding Dance Specialists remain the most recommended wedding dance company according to engaged couples, wedding vendors and the media.  The company has taught over 10,000 engaged couples. Appearing repeatedly on Oprah Winfrey's Oxygen Network, The Wedding Dance Specialists and their students starred on an episode of "Real Weddings by the Knot", the nation's first wedding reality show. In addition to attracting celebrity clientele, The Wedding Dance Specialists were the nations original wedding dance company and have since inspired an entire niche industry that has expanded worldwide!


Thursday, June 20, 2013

Dance Movie Recommendation

Shall We Dance?
starring: Richard Gere, Jennifer Lopez, Susan Sarandon

Richard Gere stars as John Clark, a man with a wonderful job, charming wife (Susan Sarandon) and loving family who still feels that something is missing in his life. Every evening on his commute home, John sees a beautiful woman (Jennifer Lopez) staring with a lost expression through the window of a dance studio. Haunted by her gaze, John impulsively jumps off the train one night and signs up for dance lessons hoping to meet her.

While John proves just as clumsy as his equally clueless classmates on the dance-floor, he nonetheless falls in love with dancing. Struggling to keep his new obsession from family and co-workers, John feverishly trains for Chicago’s biggest dance competition. His friendship with Paulina blossoms, as his enthusiasm rekindles her lost passion for dance. With his wife becoming suspicious and his secret about to be revealed, John will have to do some fancy footwork to keep his dream going and realize what it is he really yearns for.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Wedding Dance Boot Camps - April, May, June 2014


Join us for an intensive one day (3 hour) boot camp that consists of Entrance, Finale & Exit Choreography plus Foot Steps & Twirls. Walk out with a whole routine for your First Dance or Honors Dance with Parents!

Part A (Footsteps)
Sample a variety of slow dances to see which style you prefer.
Develop your individual composure as a dancer.
Learn the fundamentals and secrets of partner dancing.
Techniques for travelling around the floor.
Overview of choreography concepts
The perfect way to get comfortable dancing around others!

This workshop is sure to put a twinkle in your eye, butterflies in your stomach and a skip in your step. Feel like it's a first date all over again! Learn easy moves that look impressive! Learn to be a versatile dance partner with universal movements that are perfect for slow or fast tempos including Latin, world beat, techno, Top 40, and rap. it's time to get your flirt on with your honey! You will dance out positively glowing!

Part B (Twirls) Every woman loves to be twirled and your guests can't get enough of seeing it either! Learn how to safely transition and travel and skillfully twirl, spin, drape, cuddle and unwrap to give your bride the "Cinderella Moment" she deserves in the spotlght and have your guests applauding, cheering, wildly photographing and eager to join you on the dance floor!

Let's cut to the chase. "H-O-T" is how grooms describe this workshop! "Sensual" is how to the brides describe it so it looks like everyone is in agreement! Spice up your First Dance plus see how you can use all of your moves during the reception too! Learn how to loosen up, shake your hips (and other important parts) & look confident! The temperature is bound to go up with this rendezvous and the two of you! This date night will make you blush, feel intoxicated and high on life as you gaze steamily into your lover's eyes! It's time to get down and dirty, hot and flirty as you prepare to rock the reception and heat up the honeymoon! 


REGISTRATION DETAILS:
Event: Wedding Dance Boot Camp - Foot step & Twirls
Date: April 26, 2013 in Alexandria, VA 22314, 4-7pm

Date: May 4, 2015 in Columbia, MD 21026, 3-6pm
Investment: $30 per person / per hour (3 hours in one day total)

The Wedding Dance Specialists is the premiere national expert of the wedding dance industry. Deborah Joy and Brian Block founded the company in 2000, while engaged and preparing their own "First Dance." Year after year,The Wedding Dance Specialists remain the most recommended wedding dance company according to engaged couples, wedding vendors and the media.  The company has taught over 10,000 engaged couples. Appearing repeatedly on Oprah Winfrey's Oxygen Network, The Wedding Dance Specialists and their students starred on an episode of "Real Weddings by the Knot", the nation's first wedding reality show. In addition to attracting celebrity clientele, The Wedding Dance Specialists were the nations original wedding dance company and have since inspired an entire niche industry that has expanded worldwide!