Traditional or no, couples prepare for their first dance as man and wifeWith a week until her wedding, Rachel Ness prepared to break in her “something blue” with a dance.
By: Jasmine Maki, Grand Forks Herald
Wearing black Capri leggings and a white blouse, Rachel Ness entered the studio and quickly removed her red high heels. Setting them aside, she opened a shoe box and took out a new pair of shoes — satin blue Badgley Mischka peep-toe pumps. She admired the crystal accents for a minute before carefully slipping them on.
With a week until her wedding, Ness prepared to break in her “something blue” with a dance.
“Five, 6, 7, 8,” dance instructor Teresa Blilie said as the music began to play. “Quick, quick, slow, slow. Quick, quick, slow, slow,” she reminded Ness and her soon-to-be husband, Aaron Vigen.
Ness and Vigen took two one-hour ballroom dance lessons at Heidi Dutch Dance and Pilates Studio in Grand Forks in preparation for their June 8 wedding at Thumperpond in Ottertail, Minn.
Heidi Dutch, dance studio owner, said Ness and Vigen are just one of many couples who have decided to take lessons before their wedding. “We always have a handful of couples who get a hold of us in May,” she said. “They just want to know what they’re doing because the spotlight is on them.”
Ness agreed, saying she signed up for classes to feel more at ease on her wedding day.
Although Ness and Vigen describe themselves as casual dancers, they had never taken any kind of dance lessons, aside from the couple of weeks they spent learning dance in grade school.
They heard about ballroom dance lessons from Vigen’s cousin and decided to give it a try, hoping the classes would make them feel more confident and professional for their first dance.
During the lessons, the couple learned a basic two-step to match their first song, “Whatever It Is” by the Zach Brown Band.
The two-step is a country western dance and one of the most popular choices for today’s weddings, Dutch said.
Along with the basic rhythm, Blilie and her partner, Marcellin Zahui, taught the couple a few turns and a dramatic dip for the finale.
“And, remember, if you fall, take him with you,” Blilie said, as the couple struggled with a dip. “I like to teach them that there are no mistakes — it’s a variation. It takes the pressure off of executing a perfect move.”
After the lessons, the couple felt more prepared for their dance. “I’m excited for the first dance and for all our friends and family to join in afterwards,” Ness said. “It’ll be a great time and one we’ll look back on for many years.”
Meaning behind the dance
Ness said she sees the first dance as the beginning of the celebration.
The first dance is traditionally known as the opening of the ball or an invitation from the couple, said Blilie, who has studied and taught ballroom dance for many years.
“They are the guests of honor,” she said. “She’s the Cinderella; he’s the prince. (The first dance) is for them to invite the rest of the people to come and join them on the dance floor.”
With the couple in the spotlight, it’s important for them to learn how to move together.
Blilie said, it’s also important for the woman to let the man lead. “And if he’s not comfortable leading, we make him think he’s leading,” she said. “Ultimately, the lady is the picture, and the man is the frame.”
While every couple puts a different emphasis on the first dance, for many, it’s becoming more than a simple invitation. Many couples are deciding to take lessons, and some are even learning entire choreographed dances to entertain their guests.
From classic to hip-hop
Brock and Taylor Mikkelson, who were married Oct. 17, 2009, in Minot, surprised their guests with a special first dance that combined classic love songs, country and hip-hop.
After seeing a video on Facebook, Taylor asked Brock if he’d like to learn a choreographed dance for their wedding. “I was totally joking and didn’t think he’d go for it,” she said. But, he did.
They picked a few songs and gave them to Taylor’s cousin, who choreographed the dance.
The dance started with a slow, love song but took a drastic change with “Who let the dogs out,” “Ice Ice Baby” and Michael Jackson’s “Beat It.”
“We wanted it to kick off a good time and get everyone to come out and dance,” Taylor said. “Nobody besides my cousin, Brock and I, and my mom knew about it.”
The crowd was pleasantly surprised and loved the dance, she said.
Choreographed dances can be a fun addition to weddings, but they aren’t necessary. Ness and Vigen entertained their guests and let their personalities shine with their traditional two-step.
“Our first dance was amazing,” Ness said. “I couldn’t have dreamed of a better wedding or first dance.”
For couples planning a wedding, Blilie suggests picking a fun song for the first dance.
It’s not about the words in the song, Zahui said. “Nobody’s listening; everybody’s watching.”
Maki covers Arts & Entertainment and Life & Style for the Herald and can be reached at (701) 780-1122, (800) 477-6572, ext. 1122; or firstname.lastname@example.org.