Gone the way of the dinosaur are wedding dance rituals like the chicken dance and the electric slide; today’s partygoers groove to the cupid shuffle, cha-cha slide, and boot-scootin’ boogie. Never heard of ’em? Sashay over to a Valley dance studio and learn the latest moves — from a bride and groom’s first dance to a choreographed line dance.
According to Diane Kurtz of Newburgh’s Just Dance 5678, there has been a marked rise in dance lessons for couples approaching their special day. “It has really blossomed since 2007-2008,” Kurtz says. “In 2011 there was even greater interest.” She attributes the surge to pop culture, with TV’s Dancing with the Stars and movies like Footloose leading the charge.
Kurtz taught one couple a routine from Dirty Dancing in three weeks (“What they did in just a little bit of time was outrageous”). Currently, she’s working with a bride and groom who will have a “Zorro-themed costume wedding”: all the couples’ dances, including an Argentine tango, will be choreographed. “It’s endless what people want,” she notes — yet the number of requests for lessons in mainstream dances like the foxtrot, salsa, and swing remain high.
Linda Freeman of Kingston’s Got2lindy says that the goal is to “help couples look good and feel good for their wedding” — not just to stand and sway. Swing dance is popular because it’s the most versatile and can be adapted to Big Band or rock music by “taking the moves and dropping the footwork.” When it comes to the all-important first dance, Freeman encourages couples to take the four minutes for themselves rather than invite others to join in right away.
“We make a theatrical performance,” says Esther Odescalchi of Pleasant Valley’s Everything Ballroom. She concentrates on dance classics and will choreograph a “freestyle foxtrot” or a “lovely waltz” to a couples’ more contemporary song choices. “I teach with surprise,” she says, noting that she may have the bride and groom enter from opposite sides of the room for their first dance. Odescalchi has attended dance students’ weddings in order to choreograph a group merengue right on the dance floor. “It’s so much fun — a wild party at the end.”
All the instructors agree that couples should begin dance lessons three to six months before the wedding — rather than as an afterthought amid all the other preparations. Start with group classes (about $15 per person, per class) to learn the basics. Private lessons (ranging from $55 to $85 per couple, per lesson) can always be booked as the wedding date draws closer. Whether it’s an elegant pas de deux or a group cha-cha, the goal remains the same: have fun, enjoy the moment, and get jiggy with it.