A wedding allows you to tell your story…through your colors, choice of venue, the people who stand beside you as you exchange vows. The first dance, another time-honored tradition, gives family and friends another glimpse into who you are as a couple, whether traditionalists, moved by sentiment, or perhaps a couple who share an unshakable sense of humor.
My favorite “first dance” was not my own. It belongs to my friends Ben and Kelly, affectionately known as “Belly.” They choreographed a hilarious dance, full of dips and lifts, to Loverboy’s “Everybody’s Working for the Weekend.” We spoke with South Lake Tahoe choreographer, Marcia Sarosik of Marcia Sarosik Dancers, about her 30 years of experience teaching dance to newlyweds.
Marcia, are choreographed first wedding dances something new or have couples been seeking “professional help” for years?
I’ve been teaching wedding dances for at least 15 years…. Got a call out of the blue many years ago asking if I could teach a couple how to dance for their wedding. I’ve since taught their kids in our children’s dance classes.
Seems like compatibility is key for any “first dance.” Chemistry between the couple is there. How important is chemistry with you?
I tell couples “if you want Dancing with the Stars” go to a ballroom studio for a lot of lessons. If you want to look comfortable and have a dance that fits the two of you, I may be what you’re looking for.
Do most couples have a “song”?
About 60% to 70% have a song. I ask couples how they met, who they listen to; perhaps there’s a song that may be special to their parents. By the time I meet with couples, they usually have a song and often bring a few ideas with them. I work with couples to determine which song is better to dance to.
For couples without a specific song, how do you guide them on the type of mood they want to evoke with their dance – romantic, traditional, hysterical?
It’s all about fitting the steps and style to the couple and the song. While dance styles vary, most fall into the modified fox trot, modified tango genre, modified waltz. I’ve even taught swing and country western.
How many times do you meet with the couple before the “big day”?
Most couples come twice, some only have time for one session. Others come as many as four to six times. Couples often think they will come more often but they get so busy that I really try to get a lot done in the first session.
Is stage fright ever an issue?
Those who have that fear have already overcome part of it by coming in to learn. I work really hard to put couples at ease so they aren’t more nervous on a day that already has so much going on.
I usually edit the song down. If you watch professional dancers, their dances are typically not long. So when a couple brings me a five minute song, I talk them through the importance of making it a comfortable length for them and the crowd. All of my couples appreciate this.
For me, a couple has to be able to look into each others eyes with that special look. The steps are secondary.
Are there any first dances that have stood out over the years?
Many stand out. One couple did the tango from “Scent of a Woman.” I had a couple who danced to “Can I Have This Dance” from Urban Cowboy. Had a wonderful couple who danced the cha-cha at their wedding in San Francisco.