Some of those who have been teaching for three decades or more as I have, only enjoy working with our more advanced students who after years of training and drilling are now ready for the big time. Not quite Broadway, yet, but close. They often get somewhat bored with starting over and teaching brand new beginners from scratch. Naturally it is fun to take students that you've worked so hard with over the years and now go on to showcase all of that hard work and put it on stage. But I have to say that I also LOVE teaching beginners and especially the unending line-up of wedding couples who come through the door each month, most of whom are almost always brand, brand new beginners and who have rarely, if at all, danced in a structured manner with their partners before.
It’s great to see the young couples drag each other through the door for that first meeting, kicking and screaming (usually it’s the guys who are doing most of the kicking and screaming) wondering why they have to go through this torture as part of the marriage process. But they reluctantly agree to do so, knowing full well that having no advanced preparation at all could result in a major disaster right there in front of all of their friends and family, God And Everyone! Since the grooms-to-be have often not had the ballet, jazz, modern or tap training that most of the brides-to-be have had growing up, this to them is just another example of having to face head-on one of those both horrifying and frightening journeys into the unknown. The fun part begins when the bride-grooms discover that with just a little preparation, this could possibly not only be much easier than they ever thought, but they also realize that it can actually be FUN! And in no time at all it becomes apparent that for the first time since the relationship began, they are now all-of-a-sudden completely “IN CONTROL”! A phenomenon that they had never before (and probably never will again) experienced where their future bride is concerned!
And once this process begins, everyone soon gets eagerly into the excitement of making what was feared as being another one of those frightfully boring performances of “The Sway” into an extremely fun and entertaining little exhibition that is personalized to a "T" for those choosing the music and dancing to it. A performance that each couple soon realizes that all of their guests will not only appreciate, but will probably remember for years and years to come. With just a little professional experience and guidance and some ideas to fit their chosen music, the most dreaded part of this whole wedding process, The "Honor Dance", has now become one of the most fun and often ultimately the most memorable.
I’ve always said that after the wedding, most of the guests will never remember the decorations, or the flowers, or the color of the bride’s maids’ gowns or what was served for dinner, etc, etc, etc. But they will “always” remember the “First Dance”. (And if they don’t, there are plenty of photographs and videos to remind us of how fun [or not-so-fun] it was).
This is also what makes these little projects so much fun for me. For some of us, teaching is an art. And the art of a teacher is not much different than the art of those who take a rough lump of clay or a piece of canvas and with time and concentration and a little professional experience and input are able to gradually take that rough, unbalanced, insignificant and not-so-extraordinary natural resource and transform it into something with balance and timing and animation and an over-all beauty that could hardly in the slightest degree be recognized in the original. Which is why I look forward to and LOVE working with all of the brand new beginner wedding couples that come through the door. Especially when they take on this task early enough so that we don't have to rush through it within a week or less in time.
Almost every single weekend out of the year, I and my associate teachers (who sometimes cover for me when I get behind in being able to schedule everyone in) have wedding couples who spread out all across the US and often around the globe to perform their "First Dance" together and to demonstrate what they've worked so hard at in preparation for this incredibly important celebration in their lives. The biggest reward for me comes after the event is over and I receive an Email or message on my voice mail of how much fun their guests had watching them and how much everyone really appreciated their performance. How it was almost like a gift to them from the bride and groom. A response that always makes me laugh and one that I've received time and time again and will never tire of.
To all of my wedding couples, I wish the very best and hope that they'll continue this healthy, stress-relieving and fun-filled social activity throughout their married lives. Terry Chasteen ~ International DanceSport and Entertainment and DanceSport at DuPont Circle