While he wasn’t exactly a well-seasoned dancer, Gary Arnold Seevers also wasn’t completely clueless when he and his future wife, Lindsey, first stepped on to the floor at Take the Lead (4235 S. Charleston, Springfield,417-881-4805, ttldancespringfieldmo.com). In fact, the two had actually taken some dance classes there before, and Lindsey had some additional dance experience under her belt—she enjoyed both swing dancing and ballroom dancing during high school and college.
From their experience, the two knew they enjoyed working with Take the Lead’s owner and instructor, Obi Simpson. So when they decided to choreograph a dance for their wedding, they knew exactly where to go.
“We started working on our dance with Obi in February 2015,” Lindsey says. This gave them a couple of months to perfect their routine for their big day, which was April 25, 2015.
One of the first steps was picking a song, which they struggled with. “We picked a few songs we liked and took them to Obi,” Lindsey says. “He made a mix of them for us.”
Next came the lessons—one lesson per week for eight weeks. “Obi would record each lesson, and then we could watch it again at home,” Lindsey says. In addition to their one-hour dance lessons, they spent around another hour per week practicing to make sure they didn’t miss a beat. “We did even more the week of the wedding,” Lindsey says. “We were practicing every single day then. We actually practiced the afternoon of the wedding in the space.”
Coming up with the routine itself is where Obi came in. Obi has been teaching dance since 2010, and he opened Take the Lead in 2011. The studio offers a wide array of dance classes in everything from ballroom and country to even adult hip hop and jazz. Of course, they offer a variety of wedding packages, too, which is what Gary and Lindsey used. “What we offer for weddings is really a three-prong approach,” Obi says. “On the front end, we do all the music editing. Then we do the choreography itself, and we offer free group classes.” While the first two feats seem the most important for dance instruction, Obi says that the free group classes are also a very crucial part of the process. “Learning private dances is different than practicing in group classes,” he says. “The group dances teach the students to dance in front of others. Supplementing the private lessons with these classes is key.”
Each dance Obi creates is designed and based on the dancer’s personalities. “No two dances are ever alike,” he says. “I try to find movements that look good on the specific dancers. That’s an important part of what personalized choreography is all about.”
While Gary and Lindsey took eight weeks of classes, some couples take less, and some take more. “They need at least six,” Obi says. “That’s the magic number. That’s when people start to say, ‘Hey, I’m feeling comfortable and confident in what I’m learning,’” he says. Packages of 10 and 15 lessons are also offered.
But regardless of what package you decide on, one thing is crucial: Making sure you find the right instructor. “Obi is great,” Lindsey says. “He spends time teaching you how to communicate with each other before he even breaks things into steps. He teaches the mechanics of why we dance the way we dance. He teaches people how to properly lead, and how to properly follow. Before we started dancing side by side or even together, he taught us how to move.”
Learn to Move
Want to wow your own wedding guests with a choreographed dance, or simply learn how to slow dance together as a couple? The following studios offer lessons.
Take the Lead
4235 S. Charleston Ave., Springfield, 417-881-4805, ttldancespringfieldmo.com
Dance With Me
224 E. Commercial St., Springfield, 417-869-6789, dancewithme.us
Sonshine’s Royal Ballroom
1329 E. Republic Rd., Suite H, Springfield, 417-869-1700, sonshinedance.com
Step by Step Dance Studio
1722 S. Glenstone Ave., Suite G, Springfield, 417-689-4141, dancestepbystep.com
Ballroom World, LLC
1911 South Glenstone, Springfield, 417-889-0300, theballroomworld.com
Ann’s Performing Arts Centre
1435 East Independence, Suite 100, Springfield, 417-881-1211, annsdancers.com
Dance Canvas Performing Arts Center
2121 W. Republic Rd., Springfield, 417-300-2093, dancecanvas.org