There are many guys and couples, in fact, that dread the thought of their bridal waltz. Whether it;s fear of dancing, falling, tripping or embarrassing themselves. It doesn’t have to be like that – no matter how badly you think you dance.
On the other hand, there are couples that simply can’t wait to get out there and show their stuff!
No matter which side of the fence you sit, Ann Marie from Your First Dance Co. will have you drawing huge applause, cheers, laughter and gasps of delight from your family and friends on your wedding night.
Your First Dance Co. are based at the northern end of the Central Coast and although you have to go to Ann Marie to have lessons, she draws couples from Newcastle, the Hunter Valley and all over the Central Coast… she’s that good!
Below is the transcript from the interview I did with Ann Marie but if you’d rather listen to the audio, you can do that here.
Anyone Can Have a Great Wedding Dance
Andrew: It’s Andrew Hellmich here from Impact Images. I’m with Anne Marie Dox from Your First Dance Company this morning and Anne Marie’s going to tell us a little bit about booking her for choreography lessons or dance lessons before your wedding day, and just run through, you know, the entire process, what’s involved with that. So, Anne Marie, if you just want to introduce yourself, maybe tell us a little about how long you’ve been dancing for and where you are based, that sort of thing.
Anne Marie: Hi, I’m Anne Marie Dox, owner of Your First Dance Co. I’ve been dancing for the last, say, 25 years. I still dance, teaching part time. And, ever since my wedding 3 years ago, I decided to break into the wedding industry. Basically, wanting to choreograph and do unique bridal dances rather than your boring waltz I suppose or your three-step for the whole 4 minutes of your routine. So, basically I’m based at Hamlyn Terrace which is the northern end of the Central Coast, just off the freeway. So, easy access between the Newcastle and Sydney customers. And yeah, basically, recommend about 3 or 4 wedding dances. Wedding dance lessons, depending on what you’re requiring. If it’s a simple routine up until a complex routine, from a waltz to maybe say, a bust out, say a YouTube type of dance, if that you’re looking for, so….
Andrew: When we were chatting a little bit earlier, you were saying to me that 70% of the initial calls are from guys.
Anne Marie: Yes, I think the ladies like the guys to have some more organization and input to the wedding so, I’ve been hearing, they have the cars to organise and the wedding dance which is nice to see. Yeah, basically, it’s nice to see it.
Andrew: Great, so, when the guys or the girls for that matter make that first initial call, is it… do they have to have an idea of the sort of music and the dance style and all sort of stuff originally or do you sort of work through that with them?
Anne Marie: Yeah, usually it’s hard to say. Some people do have an eye on the song already or if they don’t have anything between the phone call and the first booking, I just say to research some songs or I’ll flip you through an email with a song list and basically determine and to pick a song that’s relevant to both of you rather just picking something out of the blue, so something that you can follow on with…
Andrew:With that initial call, they could just know they want to learn something, they don’t have to have any real idea?
Anne Marie: No.
Andrew: And does it have to be a crazier way as some of those YouTube videos or can it be a little bit more tame than that?
Anne Marie:It can be sedate, it can be nice and relaxing, it can be an acoustic or any style, I can cater for, so it’s fine.
Andrew: I go to weddings every weekend and I see, some are choreographed and some aren’t. Often the ones that aren’t, the guys that get up for their bridal waltz, they can’t wait to get off the dance floor even if it’s just a slow song and they’re up there swaying. If guys want to just learn how to move with their partner or just do the bridal waltz properly, you can help them with that?
Anne Marie: Yes I can do that, that’s fine.
Andrew: Do they select the music for that or you do that?
Anne Marie: We can do it both or you guys or the couple can pick, whatever’s easiest.
Andrew: So, when they, once they’ve chosen their song, it’s a matter of coming in and seeing you, do you look at them and assess them and say, well you guys are going to need 6 lessons or you guys will be right in 3?
Anne Marie: Usually, how I run my lessons as, with my footage. I’ve got a bit of footage at home, so they’ll come in to my home studio, we’ll go through about 2 or 3 DVD’s just to give you an understanding of what dances and what styles we do and also for bridal parties because, again, couples won’t have an idea of including their bridal party until they see a DVD and they’ll go, oh, that’s what I want. And then from there, we’ll then listen to the song and then we’ll try to go from the verse to the chorus and plan out what we want to do. And then if you want to involve some things like that or if it’s a no-goer and then basically, from there, I’ll choreograph about 30 or 40 seconds in one hit, sounds a lot but I’ll do as much as I can in the first couple of lessons and that will then determine whether how many lessons they’re going to require.
Andrew: So the initial idea could be, we want to come in for 4 lessons but once they start, they might realize they want to take it a bit further…
Anne Marie: Yes, further or they might need a bit more work and then I’ll just recommend maybe 1 lesson or 2 lessons just to polish or then I can give a half an hour lesson say the week before or a few days before their wedding day just as a refresher so they’re a bit more confident or I also recommend having a run through at their venue if they’re willing. I’ve done that with a few couples before just to make them that extra bit confident on their actual dance floor to make it a bit more like a reality run through.
Andrew: Yeah sure, what about like the actual, on the day. I know when they come to rehearsal, I imagine they are just wearing trackies or jeans or dresses. What about with the wedding gown, it’s so much longer than what they may be wearing.
Anne Marie: Sometimes, if I do get an idea from the bride of what they’re wearing, usually I will tell them to wear a dress or a skirt just so they can put on, just to mark it through with their dance and through their lesson. I will also require them to bring their heels or their shoes and also the guys as well cause, you know, the guys are just as important. So then we’ll just do a run through towards the end.
Andrew: So the guys should be wearing the wedding shoes they’re going be wearing on the wedding day, don’t turn up in joggers or thongs?
Anne Marie: Say for the first few lessons, which I have it on my terms and conditions, first few lessons, joggers and just even bare feet, it doesn’t matter. Whatever is comfortable, then progressing and once we finish the dance, then I will encourage to bring wedding shoes even with heels and with brides, brides do tend to bring a few pairs of shoes because the heels might be too high and then you’ll level with your partner because of the height difference you may have with your partner. So then, the females they chop and change their shoes by the time they get to their wedding day. So it’s a good idea of what they’re going to do.
Andrew: Does it matter if the girl is taller than the guy?
Anne Marie: It doesn’t matter.
Andrew: Okay, so you can work around that as well.
Anne Marie: Yup.
Andrew: That’s great. Okay, and then you said you do rehearsals before the actual wedding day and then if you can get into the venue, that’s a possibility as well.
Anne Marie: That’s awesome if we could do that, that’d be great.
Andrew: And then if you can’t do that, do they sort of mark out the size of their dance floor in your studio?
Anne Marie: Yes, we mark through the size of the dance floor and then basically we just do worst case scenarios for mistakes. No one’s going to get that hundred percent perfect routine so we just say, you know, we do a few steps and then if we do a mistake, we just say just keep going or we just work out the worst case scenarios so the couple are confident on the day.
Andrew: And then if you get some, there are going to be some guys that are crap scared about going for dance lessons, is it that scary?
Anne Marie: No, I think the first lesson is always overwhelming and by the end of it, the guys usually outtake the females. Funnily enough, they’ve got the confidence.
Andrew:How long are the lessons? Are they 1 hour or 2 hours?
Anne Marie: They’re 1 hour lessons but I do have a price list in terms that explain other possibilities – I do half hour refreshers, I do an hour and a half for the commuters, all the people that, you know, have cancelled a few lessons to make up. I do 2 hour lessons if it’s comes to crunch time or if you haven’t booked a wedding dance the week, which I’ve had before and you’ve got no routine the week before. I’ll do like a 2 hour revamp just to give you something quick and easy for you to have on your wedding day.
Andrew: I’m imagining that’s the wedding where they guy has done nothing. He’s trying to get out of trouble.
Anne Marie: Or they’ve forgotten to plan a wedding dance. They’ve done everything else, like your photography, your flowers, make-up, hair everything but, oh no, we need a dance. I can do that too.
Andrew: Obviously, it has to be something pretty simple just to get through and it’s going to look good?
Anne Marie: That’s exactly right.
Andrew: You mentioned earlier that when couples come in and I’ve seen some of the YouTube clips or even weddings that I’ve been to where they enter the reception with their bridal party and everyone and all the couples are doing a dance and it looks great! So, you can do choreography for the whole bridal party?
Anne Marie: Yes, do bridal party, do garter dances, do anything that you can think of for your wedding day basically.
Andrew: So with the bridal party ones, is that mostly when they’re entering the reception hall or is it actually after the first dance they sort of come in after that?
Anne Marie: That’s usually after the first dance. So, I’ll make a cue from the bride and the groom when they finish and then we’ll enter on the bridal party, somehow. But that again is determined by the song that they pick and how we mix the song because we mix songs as well.
Andrew: Once they pick the songs or you help them pick the songs, they might have, say, 2 or 3 different songs for the one dance. So you actually do the mixing, you give them the disc to take to the MC?
Anne Marie: Yeah, you get a disc or we can put it on the ipod or put on USB or email the file.
Andrew: So, they’ll go to the wedding with that music, all ready to go.
Anne Marie: Yep, or i can co-ordinate with the DJ, whatever is easiest.
Andrew: Alright, that’s easy. Is there anything else couples sort of….? What about price? I guess when couples call up, the first thing they are going to ask about, is about price, so for your hourly sessions?
Anne Marie: Yep, I charge $55 an hour, though I do have a few different prices with the half an hour and the hour and a half. That’s all in my terms and conditions which I’m happy to email out.
Andrew: What is the best way for people to contact you, is it by phone or email?
Anne Marie: Mobile, you can text, call, email.
Andrew: Okay, you’ve got a website?
Anne Marie: Yes, got a website
Andrew: What is your website?
Anne Marie: It’s www.yourfirstdanceco.com.au or you can put that into your Facebook search and you can find my ‘like’ page and I upload all my footage and photos on that as well.
Andrew: Fantastic. So just roughly, how much time or how many lessons do most couples sort of need?
Anne Marie: On average, about 4 to 6 lessons to get a nice, crisp and polished routine and make sure you’re confident.
Andrew: And how far out from the wedding should they be planning to do these dances?
Anne Marie: That’s 2 to 3 months prior because that will then cover if you miss a lesson, if you’re sick, if work commitments, if you’re shift workers because I’ve been getting a lot of shift workers, so yeah, so just give that time just in case.
Andrew: Once they’ve done that 1 or 2 hour session or 1 hour session with you, do they then have to go home and practice that?
Anne Marie: Yes, so what I usually do, I usually tape the lesson at the end.
Andrew: So when you say tape, video recording?
Anne Marie: Yeah, I just use my iphone or use the couple’s iphone or camcorder or whatever they have. Usually it’s a phone these days. At the end of the lesson we’ll just tape the routine of what we’ve done so not the whole hour. So we would just tape the routine and then it’s up to them to practice. It doesn’t matter if it’s 5 minutes a day or you know, or listening to the song in the car so it’s like more of a visual thinking process and then they’re then recapped for the next lesson and they’re aware of what we’re doing and they remember.
Andrew: So they get homework?
Anne Marie: Yes, they get a bit of homework.
Andrew: And with your lessons, is it just the couple that booked you for that lesson or is there going to be multiple couples there?
Anne Marie: That’s just one-on-one with couple, the bride and groom, that’s it.
Andrew: And if they’re having their bridal party, they come in sort of further on down the track?
Anne Marie: Yes, they come in further down the track and they usually have about 1 or 2 lessons depending again on what they want to achieve.
Andrew: So you can choreograph and work that out pretty quickly.
Anne Marie: Yeah, it’s usually more repetitive stuff so, you know, though if they’re wanting something more complex, again that’s going to allow more time.
Andrew: I suppose that depends on the actual bridal party and how well they can dance.
Anne Marie: Yes, definitely.
Andrew: That’s awesome, Anne Marie. So, is there anything else that couples should be made aware of or anything I haven’t brought up?
Anne Marie: I think just song choice, it doesn’t matter what song it is, I can cater. It’s something that’s, you know, relevant to you and your partner rather than just picking a song out of the blue. I find that the couple relates to that more if it’s a song that you’ve grown up with or you know when you first met or something like that, favourite band or something.
Andrew: Say, they come in with a favorite song and then, you know, they really just can’t move that well. Will you say, this isn’t going to be the right song for you or will you give them instruction?
Anne Marie: I’ll give them instruction and if they’re not good with the beat or I think they don’t have any movement, we just, there’s always a way to teach how to dance, whether it’s counts, because of the dance we usually count 1 to 8 or we follow the words and we do steps with the lyrics of the song. So, there’s always a way.
Andrew: So, it’s more likely to change the way you’re teaching rather than change the song so if they have a song they want, you’ll work with that.
Anne Marie: We’ll work with it.
Andrew: Thanks, Anne Marie. That’s great.
Anne Marie: That’s alright. Thank you for your time.