Be There: “As you prepare for your First Dance, make the ‘Dance of Life’ psychology your own, sharing each other’s space, being aware of your spouse-to-be, and knowing what you have to do to be there for the other person.”
The Rhythm of Life: Your First Dance
“Your first dance is something you can take away with you for the rest of your lives and enjoy every anniversary and special occasion,” says award-winning dance instructor Karen McDonald of True Balance Dance. “It's also a chance to de-stress from the usual wedding planning ‘to-do’ list.”
Your special first dance can range from Broadway to Ballroom, Jitterbug to Dirty Dancing, or “simply feeling comfortable in each other's arms in front of family and friends.”
Most couples choose music that is meaningful to them, perhaps from when they first met or their trips together. It usually takes one to two months, with a minimum of six sessions, to master their dance.
A Dancing Background
English-born, raised in Australia, and now based in New York, Karen has over 30 years of experience in competitive dancing and earned over 240 titles worldwide before retiring as an undefeated US 9 Dance Champion. She trained Richard Gere for his role in “Shall We Dance,” partnered Evander Holyfield on “Good Morning America,” appeared in the movie “Dance With Me” and in the PBS DanceSport Series. She delights in “making you look like you've been dancing for years.”
One couple wanted to perform an elaborate Tango at their wedding. “When we started, it wasn't easy for them,” says Karen. “They took lessons every day for three weeks, and at their wedding, their guests were impressed by how well they danced and by how easy they made it look. Another couple held their reception on a ship with a very small dance floor, so we tailored their dance to make it appropriate for the space.”
Familiar with dancing in elaborate gowns, Karen recommends considering your dress when selecting your dance. If you are wearing a strapless dress, she suggests not including certain lifts in your choreography.
“Exercise and a healthy diet can help improve your stamina and poise and help lower your stress levels,” says Karen, who also encourages meditation, Tai Chi, Qigong, and couples massage. She can also work with couples nutritionally.
Your Own Spin
“As a competitive ballroom dancer, I understand that sometimes our best series of movements become uniquely our own because of how we interpret them. Often my couples will vary what I ask them to do, but in their own special way, and it will feel and look better because it has become their own unique movement.”
Over the years of teaching couples to bond on the dance floor, Karen has been invited to many rehearsal dinners, bridal showers, and bachelor and bachelorette parties to teach brides, grooms, and their families and friends to share the joys of partnering in a variety of dance styles.
“I feel very honored to be part of this very special time in a couple’s life,” says Karen. “Dancing facilitates the partnering aspect of a relationship. It enhances the subtle communication necessary for a harmonious marriage. It’s about working together, feeling good, and pleasing yourself and each other.”
True Balance Dance, 315.459.1453, www.truebalancedance.com