Updated: Feb 3
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When you imagine your first dance, what do you want? My couples want their first dance to be intimate, meaningful and exciting. They want their dance to be a reflection and a celebration of who and how they are in their relationship. They want it to be an embodiment of their relationship itself. Today's standard first dance is the same as it's been for decades if not centuries - a beginner's version partner dance that has little to no expression or character. In addition to being boring, this kind of dance implies a male lead and a female follow. Most of my straight as well as lgbtq+ couples tell me this just doesn't represent them well. The good news is that while partner dancing is the most common approach, it is something you can toss partially or completely aside while elevating and evolving the first dance tradition itself.
Our concepts and expectations around marriage have evolved tremendously over the last century, and from one generation to the next. Today's couples share roles and responsibilities with a fluidity that our grandparents likely never imagined. So how then can the dances from our grandparents generation possibly suit you on your wedding day? The solution is in a four letter word, DUET!
Duet is a fancy dancy french word for two people moving in relationship with each other. Marriage itself has transformed over time from being a legally binding transfer of property, (the wife being the property), to becoming a heart centered promise to move in relationship with your beloved for the rest of your lives. That's why creating a duet is the approach I suggest for any modern day couple. Once the idea of the first dance has been shifted to be thought of as a duet rather than a partner dance, the possiblities are endless. You can draw from thousands of dance/fusion styles and build your choreography in infinite ways. You can move in unison, doing the same choreography at the same time, either touching or not. You can express yourselves with individualized movements simultaneously. At times, one can even move while the other watches. It is the emotional connection between you that solidifies your dance as a duet.
Since this is your dance, your marriage, your life, your choice ~ YES you can absolutely include partner dancing for all or some of your first dance as well. There are many forms out there from all over the world. A few of my personal flavorful favorites are blues dancing, zouk and salsa. All three of these dances are improvisational in their purest forms. Blues dancing has African American origins and a traditional male lead/ female follow assumption, tho you can do whatever you want. Zouk is a contemporary, Brazilian partner fusion form that comes off looking a bit like a blend between Argentine Tango and Contact Improvisation. Salsa has a lot of regional variation ~ Cuban (Cubano) and Columbian (Cumbia) for example. It's so fun to do and watch and while there is a traditional male lead, either partner can fulfill this role.
If it's time to start thinking about your first dance, here are three approaches I can recommend...
This takes the most time and creatity on your part, as with any DIY wedding project. Research dance styles and watch a ton of youtube videos to gather ideas and inspirtation. Carve out FOCUSSED time to choreograph and rehearse this your sweetie. It's ideal if you can rent some affordable studio space to keep you focussed on the task at hand. Give yourselves plenty of time and loving patience for this process. Have fun.
This is a combo diy approach where you and your sweetheart take classes together, I recommend at least 15 classes in a particular style. Then you improvise on your wedding day, create a loose structure, or compose a choreography with your new dance skills for your first dance.
3. Hire a Pro
Work with a dance teacher / choreographer who specializes in unique wedding dance choreography. Make sure you like their previous work and appreciate their approach. A pro should be able to take you from 0 - 100 in approximately 10hrs of private instruction. Even one private session with a pro can get you well on your way to creating an epic first dance that allows you and your betrothed to be yourselves while uplifting your guests.
Connect with me at www.matingdancemaker.com for info, pricing, and a free 30 minute consultation about your own first dance dreams.