Passionata’s Bridal Dance Guide
Posted by Passionata Dance on August 14, 2012
Guide to Bridal dance
By Dance Instructor Derek Vuong
reposted from http://www.passionatadance.com
Most bridal couples can find it quite daunting, especially if they are not dancers or performers and expected to provide the nights entertainment for their family and guests. As part of the traditional bridal evening celebrations, the bridal dance couple is expected to mark the occasion with their first dance as a married couple on their wedding night.
When do I start looking for a teacher and lessons?
It is recommended that the bridal couple start sourcing a teacher or bridal dance studio about 3-4 months before the wedding. This will allow for the core of the minimal 6 lessons and additional needed lessons subsequently. Once initial contact is made the teacher will begin to gather information about prior dancing experience, wedding date, chosen songs, floor size and commitment to lessons.
It is usually recommended that one lesson is taken per week with at least two practice sessions within the bridal couples own time. With the practice sessions, this will make the teacher’s job easier to progress to more advanced concepts or choreography and save money for subsequent lessons. Some bridal couples who have busy schedules are recommended to take lessons earlier and span the lessons over two weeks to save money and increase flexibility of finding time to practice until the wedding date gets closer.
Bridal dance lessons are always going to be private lessons. However it may help for the bridal couple to take group lessons far in advance to develop basic dance abilities to make it easier during the teaching phases.
Choosing the Bridal song and Dance Style
Traditional vs Modern Wedding
The bridal couple must choose if they want an elegant wedding or an entertaining party feel. The traditional wedding dance is classy and danced to classical phrased music with a slow rhythm. The modern weddings may incorporate a lot more mixed styles and breaks in style. Traditionally the dance should be to one song from start to end. Some couples start off with a slow rhythm as a trick and then play it into a modern with a record skip.
Tempo and Beats
For non experienced dancers it is best to choose a song with a slow and noticeable constant beat with not too many tempo changes. The mode changes act as indicators for moves, embellishments or stylised energy changes. There’s no use choosing a song that is too fast for the ability levels of the dancers. Eg. Choosing a salsa for complete non dancers is very hard to pick up the pace.
The song is best to be chosen with lyrical content related to love, eternity, trust and other positive themes. Care must be avoided in choosing songs that are related to death, breakup or other bad themes as it subconsciously gives a tasteless impression. For example, a father daughter dance may be chosen as a song dealing with the father’s love of a daughter and her growing up, however this song may be inappropriate for a bride groom dance.
The worst wedding dances are usually the ones who have not made any effort and sway from side to side and rotate for the whole song as it shows the couple has not invested any time in dance lessons. The dance styles vary in difficulty and commitment. Here is a little indicator of easiest to hardest initial learning the order goes, Merengue, Bachata, Slow Rhythm Dance, Waltz, Rumba, Hip hop, Cha Cha, Jive, Salsa, Tango and Contemporary Routines.
Depending on the chosen song it will be to a certain genres of dance. Merengue and Bachata dances are simple and do not require much instruction. They are basic to dance and are usually less suitable for bridal dances and more for general dancing. However they can both be adapted to bridal dance with spins and turns. Waltz traditionally are usually 3/4 Timing but can be adapted to most 4/4 Love Ballads.
Slow rhythm dances like the foxtrot require a little understanding of phrasing. Rumba is a slow romantic version of cha cha. Hip hop is high energy choreographed movements as with contemporary having a focus on dramatic elements. Salsa is high energy and requires a lot of development. Tango is the most difficult as it invoves phrased elements and gradual refinement.
It is recommended that you choose a song about longer than 2.5 minutes and less than 4 minutes. The bridal dance should be the showcase of the night and provide light entertainment for the guests. Any longer than 4 minutes and the audience attention spans start to dwindle unless there are more moves and theatrical elements to engage the students in a story at the intro and a substantial climax and resolution. Slower songs require breaks into alternative display and adornments in routine to showcase the dancers while active dance styles require interesting choreography patterns.
Some bridal couples have a song already in mind from the pop genre usually with a 4/4 Musical signature, slow speed Rumba or fast paced Cha Cha or salsa. Some will choose a classy foxtrot, traditional waltz 3/4, and argentine tango 2/4 with complex phrased musicality. It is best to choose a song early so the instructor does not waste time jumping from one style to another and waste the lesson time.
How many lessons will it take?
Depending on a number of factors, the amount of lessons needed will vary according to the individuals, the song chosen and the teacher’s teaching style. Each lesson will usually cost from around $70-$110 per sessions. And sessions usually run from 45 mins to an hour depending on the studio and teachers rates. Teachers will usually recommend about five lessons as a minimum to get a basic feel of the dance style and have some intro and outro elements. Additional lessons can be usually booked with most instructors if required. Usually lessons are commenced 2-3 months prior to the wedding date and once a week, followed by practice sessions by the bridal couple in their spare time. Usually some buffer will be required before the actual date of the wedding in case extra lessons are needed, some refreshing is needed or even if they couple is busy organising other arrangements for the wedding. Remember it is best to practice before you come in for your next lesson as it allows the teacher to progress you to the next level or part of the dance routines.
Here are some rough estimates for lessons:
Basic waltz improvised (4 lessons) – Suitable for father daughter dances with not much special.
Waltz Choreography (8 Lessons) – Suitable for a traditional feel wedding.
Argentine Tango (7-10 Lessons) – For those who want to put on more of a show
Latin Styles (8 lessons) – Higher energy dance, Fast paced to modern music.
Jazz/Contemporary (8-10+ lessons) – Theatrical performances.
Hip Hop Street/Club style (8-10 lessons)
Dancing on the night
The bridal couple may experience some anxiety on the night. Stage fright is common as the class room environment is comfortable for dancing but when it comes to dancing in front of relatives, the mind has a tendency to blank out. This is worse when the teacher has taught using a purely choreographed approach. What is recommended is a mixture of improvisational style and choreography. So when choreography fails improvisation can take over. A good teach will build up the dancers confidence so they can perform during the night.
Good Luck from Passionata Dance
This article was written by Derek Vuong, Head Dance Instructor at Passionata dance. He has taught numerous private and bridal clients and is experienced in the process as well as the related pitfalls clients may experience. Passionata Dance proudly assisted Bride to Be magazine australia to assist in their dance photo shoot.
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