Wedding Recap: The Reception, Part II

The one thing I was adamant about throughout the planning process was a reception that reflected the type of couple Adam and I are. We like to goof off, relax, listen to good music and spend time with family and friends. That’s exactly the reception we had. Our reception was high-energy and laid-back and allowed us to be ourselves around our friends.

Our DJ allowed us to create a playlist prior to the reception with music we thought our guests would be most receptive to and, while I stressed a bit about this element of the wedding, it turned out better than I ever imagined. Our dance floor was packed the entire night! Apparently we had a good mix of oldies, line dances, and current hits. 🙂

While we twisted,

my dad shouted,

and my aunts shimmied.

Guests jumped…

and threw their hands up in the air like they just didn’t care.

There were even a few sisterly dance moments.

And then the DJ played “Single Ladies”.

Remember the whole “Operation: No More Beyonce” thing and the fact that I’m slightly addicted to Jazzercise? I worked with my coordinator to loosely stage a flash mob, after I contacted my fellow Jazzercisers mere days before the wedding.

Yep, our reception had a Jazzercise flash mob in the middle of the dance floor.

It was so much fun dancing with my instructors and other Jazzer-buddies who drove down to celebrate with us! I seriously love those women!

There’s even video evidence of our Jazzer-moment!

Then I got sick…light-headed, stomach turning, overheated.

Note to future brides: don’t go a full day on only apples and caramel sauce, get married, then expect to dance the night away in your wedding dress.

Adam got me a bottled water, then got Heather, our coordinator, to come help.

So while my guests were doing this:

and this:

and this:

I was doing this:

Yep. I missed doing the “YMCA” at my own wedding.

But I was soon back out on the dance floor just in time for the “Time Warp”. My sudden weak state was nothing several bottles of water and a plate of food couldn’t fix.

While I went back to the dance floor, Adam went to hang with his family. And by hang, I mean totally goof-off.

Then it was time to drag him back out to the dance floor for the “Cha-Cha Slide”…

…before ending the fun-filled night with a sparkler getaway and a kiss to seal the deal.

We were officially married and on our way to Napa Valley for our honeymoon!

images via Karen Segrave | KES Weddings

Not Just a Dance Teacher

Warning: An uncharacteristic “sappy” post follows. My dance teacher of 7 years, Shirlene Gills, passed away Saturday, August 20, 2011. Ever since I learned of her death it has been on my heart to write down just what she meant to me.

In 1995, I changed dance studios to a relatively new one in my hometown. Rather than have my mom traverse 45 miles – one way – at least once a week for classes, we joined Shirlene School of Dance and never looked back. At the time I would never know what a blessing it was that she would be my teacher, nor would I realize what a positive impact she would have on my life – not only as a dancer, but as a human being as well.

Her studio was across the street from the courthouse in an old office building. The door was painted hot pink and in the window she had placed a “life-size” ballerina sculpture she had created in college from scrap metal that sat atop a record player. If it wasn’t for that sculpture, you’d never even know it was a dance studio.

Her studio was nothing fancy – the waiting room held dark green plastic patio chairs, but once you passed the half wall that separated the waiting room to the studio and watched Shirlene teach you knew something amazing would go out that hot pink door. When she wasn’t she was sitting in her vintage wheeled office chair taking choreography notes or picking out costumes, she was on the plywood studio floor dancing full out with us. Whether it was for a fair talent show, a regional dance competition, a nursing home performance or her annual recital, every piece of her choreography was special.

Shirlene was a rare talent in a small southern Arkansas town. She had studied dance under some of the greats, like José Limón and Bill Cratty, and imparted so much of her training and knowledge to small town girls who otherwise would have never been exposed. Mrs. Shirlene is the reason I know who Martha Graham and Isadora Duncan are and I credit her for my appreciation of contemporary choreography today. In any genre of choreography, Shirlene was never afraid to stretch our abilities, never afraid to think outside of the box. From ballet, tap and jazz, to hip hop and modern to liturgical, we danced it all under her guidance.

She challenged us, especially the seniors by requiring us to choreograph our own solo. It was like our dancer’s rite of passage. She was there to offer suggestions and encourage us along the way but ultimately the piece was up to us. From the style, to the music, to the costume, we owned that piece of the recital and while stressful, I think every senior who had to go through that process came out more confident and creative.

I remember my senior solo rehearsals like it was yesterday. I wanted to do a tap piece, so I rented all of the great Gregory Hines videos I could get my hands on, ultimately falling in love with the movie “TAP!”. I came in to my first “rehearsal” with Mrs. Shirlene excited about all of the steps I had seen in that movie and impatient to begin working them into my solo. The whole time, she sat by her desk to the right of the studio floor – which was covered in mountains of CDs – while sipping on her Sonic Route 44 drink, smiling and offering gentle guidance here and there. We’d listen to the music together, I’d try to fit a step in and when it didn’t work we’d start the process over again. She had more patience than anyone should be given.

No matter what, Mrs. Shirlene supported us, not only in the studio but outside of it as well. She had a vested interest in each and every one of her students. She wanted us to succeed.

And at that final “senior solo” rehearsal? She’d present a graduation gift: “Ten Stupid Things Women Do to Mess Up Their Lives” by Laura C. Schlessinger. She made me promise to read it before going off to college. It was her way of pushing us out of the studio nest and I still have that book to this day.

Mrs. Shirlene, Thank you for being such an amazing role model for all of your students. Thank you for challenging us, listening to us and molding us. I hope you know just how many lives you impacted through your dance and your character. You will always be an inspiration in my life and for that, I am forever grateful. May you rest in peace.

If you ever did a warm up with Mrs. Shirlene, chances are you danced to “Wasted Time” by The Eagles at least once. It was one of her favorite songs to use and has been in my head ever since I learned of her death. It’s only right that I end this post with that song.
(the song begins at the 1:26 mark)

Do You Wanna Dance?

Middle School.

The most awkward period of everyone’s life. Marred by the burning desire to fit in and sit with the cool kids; the desire to please your parents, but be accepted by your peers. Easier said than done.

For example, take the 5th grade Christmas dance, where I decided it would be most appropriate to wear a sparkly gold sweater and velvet stirrup pants. Complete with matching purse and choker. Add to that my mom’s obsession of steam rollers, teasing, and hairspray and you got this…

I thought I was stylin’ and that all the girls would ask me for fashion advice. Looking back, I was clearly mistaken.

Then picture that awkward, skinny, towering 11 year old version of me dying for the chance to dance with a boy. ANY boy. Instead of sitting on the sidelines watching every other girl dance only joining in when the Electric Slide or Macarena played. I was so desperate, in fact, that I decided to chase a boy around the dance floor until he agreed to dance with me. Yes, you read right. I CHASED him around the dance floor, in front of teachers, classmates, parents, and the DJ.

Not my proudest moment.