Monday, November 30, 2009

Dance Tip: Our Roles in Partnership

The Groom, The Leader

Gentlemen, you are in control on the dance floor! You are like the President, the pilot, the one with the power and responsibility to guide your partner through the dance. Your job is to initiate and anticipate everything and warn your partner of your intentions. When leading, it is better to be decisive than to be right. In other words, you are always technically right as long as you clearly tell your partner what you want her to do. You can dance offbeat, go the wrong direction or make up a new step and as long as your partner is adequately prepared, she can accommodate you and make you look good in front of the crowd. After all, your guests don’t know your intentions or your repertoire! If you are hesitant the woman will stumble. Leading and following evolved from the Victorian era. During this era, women were thought of as precious, yet fragile and likely to fall down at any time (corsets had many women fainting from lack of oxygen)

The Bride, The Follower

Ladies, your job is to smile and avoid getting stepped on. The more thinking and analyzing the follower does, the more difficulty she causes her Leader. Empower your Groom with the permission to lead. Often women will try to be helpful by “back-leading.” Back-leading is giving the leader hints or suggestions, moving him around the floor or setting his tempo. Any Leader will lead poorly when they are insecure or distracted by outside pressure or too much input and stimulation. Leaders are inclined to allow back leading because of their deep love and respect for their partner. It is the Follower’s job to be the “wind beneath the wings” of your leader and let him do his job. A Follower does herself and her Leader a disservice by back-leading as she compromise the unified look of the couple and her partner will not have fun. The end result of back-leading risks frustration and dampens enthusiasm for dancing together at future social events. If you are tempted to back-lead, try closing your eyes and taking some deep breaths as you dance. This will relax you and force you to rely more on the energy transmitted from your partner rather than visual crutches. Whenever discussing dance, it’s best to focus on the positive and couch criticism with constructive feedback. Or better yet, relax, let the dance teacher handle the mistakes and simply enjoy the ride!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Dance Style: Polka

The Polka was originally a Czech peasant dance, developed in Eastern Bohemia (now part of Czechoslovakia). Bohemian historians believe that the polka was invented by a peasant girl named Anna Slezak in 1834 one Sunday for her amusement. It was composed to a folk song "Uncle Nimra brought a white horse." Anna called the step "Madera" because of its quickness and liveliness. The dance was first introduced into the ballrooms of Prague in 1835. The music is played in 2/4 time (1 & 2) and sounds happy and playful. The name of the dance (pulka) is Czech for “half-step”, referring to the rapid shift from one foot to the other.

Polka is danced around the room in a series of small and fast chasses (side steps) with a distinctive hop, turning about 360 degrees every 4 beats. In 1840, Raab, a dancing teacher of Prague, danced the polka at the Odéon Theatre in Paris where it was a tremendous success. French dance instructors seized upon it and Polkamania ensued. Dance academies were swamped and in desperation recruited ballet girls from the Paris Opéra as dancing partners to help teach the polka. This naturally attracted many young men who were interested in things other than dancing. Consequently, manners and morals in the dance pavilions were suspect so many parents forbade their daughters from dancing with anyone but close friends of the family.

The polka was introduced in England in the mid 1800s. When it came to the USA it was taken up by the country western set and is still danced in Country Competitions today. The western style Polka is danced with less turning, with very little hopping and somewhat resembles the two-step in its execution with a lot of turns for the woman. After WW2, American/Polish immigrants adopted the more European variant as their “cultural” dance and it is not uncommon to see it danced by young and old at Polish weddings today. The Polka was standard fare on the Lawrence Welk Show. Most people will remember it as the dance Deborah Kerr and Yul Brynner did swirling around the ballroom in "The King and I".


"The Beer Barrel Polka" by Lawerence Welk
"Shall We Dance?" from "The King and I" soundtrack
"Back In The Saddle Again" by Gene Autry

Monday, November 23, 2009

Choosing A Song for your First Dance Debut

Pick a song that is meaningful to both of you. Did you share a romantic moment to a special song? What love song was playing in the background on your first date? What song brings tears to your eyes or gives you butterflies? What song inspires thoughts of the one you love? The music you choose will determine the type of dance that is appropriate. If you are undecided, your instructor can demonstrate a variety of dance styles and provide a list and samples to listen to in class. Knowing which styles of dance you prefer can help you decide on the song. If you are unfamiliar with dance styles you may simply want to imagine the mood you want to feel and project as you are dancing. Do you want your dance to look simple and elegant? Classic and traditional? Peppy and cheerful? Sensual and romantic? Elaborate and Showy? Share your vision with your instructor.

Remember: It's your dance, have it your way! Never let anyone tell you not to dance to a specific song. You pay dance instructors to teach you how to dance. They can tell you if the song in question is easy or hard to dance to, that is part of our job. It's Your Wedding!

Need assistance choosing a song, visit the Song Suggestion List on our website

Friday, November 20, 2009

Date Night: Ballroom with a Twist

Where: Music Center at Strathmore
When: Friday November 20th & Saturday November 21st, 2009
Time: 8 PM

Dancing With the Stars champion Louis van Amstel comes this dazzling new stage production that features dancers from So You Think You Can Dance and Dancing with the Stars. With "American Idol" singers David Hernandez and Trenyce Cobbins and a cast of gifted dancers, this sizzling show never stops moving, from swing to samba, Broadway to b-boy, cha-cha, tango, paso doble, and more!

The show will also feature celebrity host Sabrina Bryan of The Cheetah Girls. Sabrina was the first celebrity on Dancing With the Stars to get earn a perfect score of 30 from the DWTS judges in 2007!

For Tickets and more information visit:

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Dance Tip: Posture

Being nervous and insecure tends to show in one's posture. When a couple is dancing in front of a crowd and clinging to each other with their heads down and shoulders rounded, onlookers are reminded of their high school prom. Wedding dresses and tuxedos always look their best when you stand up straight with your shoulders back, neck straight and chin held high. Therefore, whether you are walking down the aisle, exchanging vows during the ceremony, or dancing, maintain an erect posture and look each other in the eye. This not only looks better, but is one of the vital techniques for effective leading and following.

If you need help improving your posture while on the dance floor, let us help you! You'll see the difference even in one lesson! Contact us at (703) 626 - 7016.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Dance Style: Merengue

The Merengue is one of the most popular latin dances and the national dance of the Dominican Republic, and also to some extent, of Haiti. There are two popular versions of the origin of the Merengue. The first story alleges the dance originated with slaves who were chained together and, of necessity, were forced to drag one leg as they cut sugar to the beat of drums. The second says that a great war hero was wounded in the leg during one of the many revolutions in the Dominican Republic. He was welcomed home with a victory celebration and, out of sympathy, everyone dancing felt obligated to limp and drag one foot.

The Merengue is a spot dance, meaning it doesn't move aroundthe dance floor so it is ideally suited to small, crowded dance floors. Merengue is a fun dance with simple steps so it is easy to learn quickly and the "1-2" march-like rhythm makes it a favorite throughout the Caribbean, Latin America and South America. It is the perfect dance to learn for those planning a honeymoon in any of these regions of the world. The Merengue was introduced to the United States in the New Y ork area and like the other Latin dances is here to stay. You can merengue any night of the week in any Latino bar in the area.

Song Examples of Merengue:
"Suavamente" Elvis Crespo
"The Cup Of Life" Mark Anthony
"Lets Get It Started " Black Eyed Peas

Friday, November 6, 2009

Date Night: The National Society of Arts and Letters Second Annual Viennese Waltz Ball

Under the gracious patronage of His Excellency the Ambassador of Austria Christian Prosl.
Saturday November 21, 2009

The Cosmos Club

2121 Massachusetts Avenue, NW

Washington DC

5:00 p.m. - 11:00 p.m.

White tie and decorations optional

Sit down dinner and dessert buffet/Open Wine Bar

Raffle for Frank Wright's "Ice on the Potomac" print!

Music of Con Brio! (Waltz, Polka, Bossa Nova, Tango, Samba, Foxtrot)

During the evening, take part in the Grande Marche done to the stirring Radetzky March and learn to dance The Fledermaus Quadrille as it is danced at the grand balls in Vienna, Austria.

$175 per person for dinner and ball; $115 per person for dessert and ball; full-time student discount available.

Contact: Martie Goebel 703 354-2044 or

Want to learn to dance for this event, contact us at (703) 626 - 7016.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Dance Tip: The Dance Floor

‘Traveling’ dances such as Foxtrot, Tango and Waltz require a larger floor, whereas ‘spot’ dances like Rumba and Swing can be danced comfortably in a very small space. Arrange for the MC or DJ to announce that guests should remain along the perimeter to respect your dancing space, maximize everyone’s visibility and allow the photographer and videographer adequate angles for good footage. Below are some dance floor tips:

1. If the site has a wooden or marble floor, make sure to leave a minimum of 10x10 section for dancing. If the reception site is carpeted, usually a portable floor is available for rent.

2. Avoid encouraging guests to toss petals, rice, bird seed or confetti on the dance floor as they can make the floor slippery when dancing. If you want to include this for dramatic effect, orchestrate it as a grand finale gesture and then have the floor swept before further dancing occurs.

3. Make sure that the dance surface is swept and completely dry.

4. Ensure that you have adequate space to dance before approaching the floor for your first dance. Request that the DJ or band director announce, “Please gather along the edge of the dance floor for the couple’s first dance.” Another solution is to pre-arrange for the entire wedding party to subtly hint to your guests where to stand by positioning themselves along each side of the perimeter of the dance floor outlining where the guests should fill in the space. Since many people do not really dance, the assumption is that you don't need any room and the well wishing guests will sometimes crowd around you. Aside from feeling a bit claustraphobic, not enough dancing space can also compromise the quality of your video and photography footage.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Dance Style: Mambo/Salsa

Perez Prado is thought to have introduced the Mambo at La Tropicana nightclub in Havana in 1943. Mambo Mania hit when Prado recorded the song, "Mambo Jambo". The dance appeared in the United States in New York's Park Plaza Ballroom, a favorite hangout of dance enthusiasts from Harlem. The Mambo gained in popularity and in the 1950s was taught in dance studios, resorts, and nightclubs in New York and Miami. In more recent times Mambo has also evolved into Salsa. Salsa is a street version of Mambo. Musically the main difference is that Mambo music holds on the one beat and Salsa music hits on one beat. The steps are pretty much the same. Mambo tends to be sharper in the footwork more time is spent in closed hold and the man breaks on 2. Salsa tends to be sexier, characteristically it has little kick like embellishments, more time is spent in a two handed or apart position and the man breaks on 1. Whether you call it Mambo or Salsa, the small steps are taken ball of foot first with the knees flexible to allow for the hip action known as cuban motion. Mambo is the forefather of Cha Cha. It also shares many patterns in common with the other Latin dances Rumba and Bolero. Mambo/Salsa is fun and flirty and socially is a great dance to learn if you like Latino music.

Contact The Wedding Dance Specialists at (703) 626 - 7016 to learn this fun and exciting dance style!