Special moments are usually marked by a tradition, whether it’s a special song, action or dance. At weddings, the first dance between a couple marks the beginning of a life together. And according to wedding dance choreographer, Anderson Josiah, if continued, can produce a lifetime of opportunities for couples to do something together.
Josiah, 44, began doing ballroom dancing at 21 with teacher, Ken Wilson. When he met then girlfriend, Kelly La Juenesse, dancing took a different turn.
“I started dancing at the age of 21. My dance teacher back then was Ken Wilson Dance Partners and Associates. He taught ballroom dancing, Latin and smooth styles. Then I did some dancing salsa-which is a street style Latin dance. I did that with Margaret Persad. That is where the foundation came.
“Not long after starting to dance, maybe four or five years, I met my girlfriend at the time and dance partner, Kelly La Juenesse and she was passionate about dance. I did it because I had nothing else to do and was bored and because of her passion and my willingness to please my then girlfriend, we started competing. We became competitive dancers, locally, regionally and even competed in England at one in time.”
Josiah and his partner competed competitively for about ten years and then stopped competing after La Juenesse pursued higher education in dance. After this, Josiah said, he never knew how to dance socially, since “everything he did was geared toward competitive dancing.”
To go to a party and dance was difficult for him and so he began to teach as a way of continuing his dancing. “Kelly and I taught salsa at UWI (University of the West Indies) for a little while, about two years and Elle NYTT. It was while there I got the idea to do wedding choreography. It is a very niche market. There aren’t a lot of people that target weddings, specifically. They teach dance but there are a lot of people who don’t have the time to learn to dance and invest six months to a year to learn to dance.”
It takes Josiah a minimum of six weeks at 60/90 minutes a session (couples get five sessions, one class per week) to teach a routine for their special day. The couples are also given time to practice their routines.
Josiah said many of the things done on one’s wedding day do not carry over but one could easily use one’s dance routine five years after the wedding. “It is something you can continue doing after your wedding and that is something I am so proud of. Most of the things you get for your wedding, is not a skill you can do after. ..five years after, for you fifth anniversary, you can dance.”
He found it strange that many couples got to the point of their wedding without being able to dance since “in all love stories and in romance novels there is always dance involved.”
Introducing dance at that point, Josiah said, takes the relationship to a new level with many of the couples he trains choosing to continue dancing after.
Josiah usually gets most of his couples through word of mouth. His first couple was done through referral. Since then, six years after, he has trained many couples, doing everything from classical Indian pieces to chutney to soca. He even choreographs groups, if that is wanted. He does about two couples a month with some months not having any clients. While, in June he might have about three or four clients.
To make that moment and day even more special, Josiah even coordinates skype sessions with couples who might be aboard before their wedding. Often, he found, that many couples don’t do things together and dancing allows them to truly bond and create a team. “You have to work together at something and when they do that dance on the day and get the love of the audience and family members. It is like wow. It is like they hold an invisible trophy where only they can feel that experience.”
Any style of music that a couple envisions best tells their love story, Josiah puts together a routine. He has had couples who wanted a medley of five songs. He, however, limits the time to three and a half or four minutes.
Dancing, for Josiah, sets the tone for the rest of one’s life. “The first dance comes across as a cultural thing. A lot people who come to me are like, you know, it is expected so they do it but it is one of the few things that truly shows the affection you have for your spouse.”
“When you dance with that person, it tells you a lot about the passion you have for them,” he said.
Josiah now trains couple with his current girlfriend and dance partner, Nadia Lorick and can be found through Elle studios, St Augustine.