Old Hollywood Weddings: Dancing Like The Stars
Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers, Gene Kelly, Judy Garland…singing in the rain, dancing in the dark and being captured on film at the height of their beauty and talent.
A glamorous Old Hollywood wedding means live music, with a live band.
And a stunning, eloquent and elegant first dance.
For the cameras, of course.
I tend to encourage people to take real dance lessons from a real dance instructor rather than one who concentrates on perfecting a complicated dance routine taught for the purpose of that one dance on that one night.
Especially when the students have never danced before!
Step two three, turn two three….learn to really dance and you’ll be dancing together for the rest of your lives.
A simple, elegant and romantic first dance is a perfect time for some of the best photo opportunities that happen at a wedding.
Guests gathered around the dance floor, cameras flashing — it’s your moment to shine!
I like to work with brides and grooms to choose a song for the first dance that they will actually be able to dance to. We discuss their level of dance experience and try out dance patterns that fit into the style of their wedding and can be done to various songs that they like. I’m an experienced ballroom dancer myself, which helps.
Dance lessons instill confidence, especially if you are able to find a real dance teacher who teaches you to actually dance rather than just going through the motions of a choreographed song with intricate steps you’ll forget as soon as the wedding is over.
Basic steps are easy to learn, and when someone learns how to lead and the other learns how to follow, dancing becomes as easy as walking.
A great place to start is with the box step, a basic 1-2-3-hesitate pattern that will take you a long way in a variety of rhythms. Foxtrots, waltzes and rhumbas begin with the box step.
Once you’ve mastered the box step, your instructor will teach you simple turns. You walk…you glide…two hearts beating as one.
Dancing is a form of communication. It’s a conversation, with non-verbal communication between two people, one of whom is leading while the other follows. It’s the ultimate love scene. Fred Astaire didn’t need to kiss Ginger Rogers onscreen. He merely took her in his arms… and danced with her.
Simple swing steps are also easily mastered when the art of leading, following and working together as a team is perfected.
This can be a lot of fun!
Because our bands are completely live, we can slow the song down, lengthen it, change the tempo, create a dramatic musical introduction and the ultimate big ending.
Or play the whole song over again, if neccessary!
Example: A “junior groomsman” ran across the dance floor between the photographer and the couple just as their dance was ending and the groom was dramatically dipping the bride. I knew how inmportant that moment was to them for the sake of their pictures; they’d practiced the dance and the big ending with me several times before the wedding.
I was pretty sure from the disappointed look on the photographer’s look that the shot had been ruined, and he nodded to me to confirm that he had not gotten it.
“OK,” I announced from the stage. “We’re going to take that scene over!”
And we did.
By then, the bride and groom were so comfortable dancing together that their second “big ending” was even better than the first.
Perfection is so cool.
Judy Chamberlain specializes in vintage live music. She can be reached at 714 319-9242.