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The Jewish Chronicle - JC Magazine - - Entertainment -

EAT­ING PLANS are hard. In­evitably, some­one is go­ing to end up next to your drunk un­cle/overly chatty cousin/weepy moth­erin-law. So do the kind thing: give guests a rea­son to pick up their drink, pos­si­bly their pud­ding — and skip off to the dance floor.

THE DANCE PER­FOR­MANCE

It’s hard to sur­prise at a wed­ding. With photo booths, high class ma­gi­cians and sushi mak­ing now firmly in the main­stream, the new­est way to re­ally get the party started is by hav­ing a dance per­for­mance. Ilai Szpiezak, di­rec­tor of iDance, ex­plains why: “I grew up and trained in Ar­gentina, where there is a strong tra­di­tion of dance per­for­mances at wed­dings. When I came over here to work as a dance teacher and chore­og­ra­pher, it was dis­ap­point­ing to dis­cover that there were no dance pro­duc­tions at wed­dings. So I put to­gether a com­pany of pro­fes­sion­als, from dancers from West End shows to tap dancers and hula-hoop­ers, as well as tech­ni­cians, cir­cus per­form­ers and cos­tume de­sign­ers, and we are cre­at­ing a menu of shows.

“Our dance shows come in two parts. The first part is a per­for­mance, with dancers, ac­ro­bats, cos­tume changes, wigs; it’s like a mini Broad­way show. Then the guests get in­volved, led by the dancers. It’s all about get­ting peo­ple on the dance floor. They are of the high­est stan­dard, but de­signed spe­cially for a pri­vate event and to get the guests in­volved. One of our shows is to a Fid­dler on the Roof Is­raeli remix. We al­ways aim to sur­prise and ex­cite, but keep it friendly and suit­able for all ages.”

THE FIRST DANCE

Sure, the tra­di­tional way to start the danc­ing is for the happy cou­ple to take the floor. But this doesn’t just have to be a gen­tle sway to “your song”. A spe­cial­ist teacher can help you put to­gether some­thing spec­tac­u­lar.

Paul Bot­tomer, tango cham­pion and di­rec­tor of The Dance Ma­trix, says: “Some want to im­press with spec­ta­cle: dips, lifts and drops and we can do that. Some of the more un­usual dances we have chore­ographed in­cluded a wed­ding dance for a Baroque cos­tumed ball in a French château; an Ar­gen­tine tango for an opera singer; and a ro­man­tic rumba to be danced in a Ro­man Palazzo.

The num­ber of ses­sions needed de­pends on whether the cou­ple wants to do a show­stop­ping spec­tac­u­lar wed­ding dance for the au­di­ence or some­thing more per­sonal and about their re­la­tion­ship. I would sug­gest at least three, hour-long lessons. But in Amer­ica, where a lot of ‘wed­ding dance’ YouTube clips come from, they of­ten spend sev­eral months pre­par­ing.

“There’s a myth that slower mu­sic means an eas­ier dance. Slow mu­sic re­quires greater con­trol and the move­ment can look laboured and awkward. Mid­dle-tempo mu­sic is the safest and gets the guests in the mood for danc­ing them­selves. Some tracks that work well are Lady An­te­bel­lum - Run to You, Just a Kiss or I Need You Now; Over the Rhine - I Want You to Be My Love and Sha­nia Twain - From This Mo­ment On.

“Un­less you have a ball­room, lessons at home are rarely a good idea. It’s alarm­ing how dif­fer­ent it can feel be­ing in the spot­light on a ho­tel dance floor if you’ve pre­vi­ously been shuf­fling around the sofa.”

THE SWING DANCE LES­SON

A swing dance les­son is a play­ful way to help guests get to know each other. Scot­tie Cupit, di­rec­tor of Swing Patrol, ex­plains: “There’s this awkward time af­ter the cer­e­mony but be­fore the party starts when pho­to­graphs are be­ing taken and ev­ery­one is wait­ing for the cou­ple to ar­rive, so we run this great in­ter­ac­tive fun swing les­son.

“I usu­ally teach some­thing Charleston­re­lated, be­cause that’s nor­mally thought of as the eas­i­est un­der the swing um­brella and you can look re­ally good with some ba­sic steps. I ro­tate peo­ple, get­ting the fam­i­lies to know each other, so when the cou­ple turns up ev­ery­one’s had a bit of ban­ter. It’s a lovely ice breaker, get­ting friends mix­ing.”

IS­RAELI DANC­ING

Is­raeli danc­ing is great for bond­ing; it’s en­er­getic and it’s easy. Ju­lia Kay, di­rec­tor of the Leeds Is­raeli Dance Or­gan­i­sa­tion says: “Strictly has meant a mas­sive up­lift in the pop­u­lar­ity of danc­ing. For a wed­ding I in­vite peo­ple to a class or work­shop in ad­vance. Many are quite tra­di­tional in their mu­sic choices, but we al­ways try to of­fer some mod­ern ma­te­ri­als, per­haps some line dances and some­thing sur­pris­ing, as well as Moshi­ach and Hava Nag­ila. In­stead of hav­ing just one set af­ter the meal, be­fore the disco, I think the best party at­mos­phere comes from start­ing the danc­ing as soon as the cou­ple ar­rive— and then danc­ing be­tween cour­ses helps keep the mood up. It also helps the cater­ers by pro­vid­ing time to clear the ta­bles.

“We try to in­volve ev­ery­one and choose dances that are easy to do im­me­di­ately — we don’t want to break up a func­tion by ‘teach­ing’! We some­times or­gan­ise a rondo — a set piece in­volv­ing ev­ery­one at the func­tion. We can work with 50 to 250 peo­ple at once, mak­ing pat­terns, arches, swirls. If they are re­ally brave, we do ad­ven­tur­ous things like skip­ping with the table­cloths — they don’t for­get that in a hurry!

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