Wedding Planning

Db Studios’ Kendall Sealey Will Get You First-Dance-Ready

Whether you’re trying to waltz or cha-cha your way into marriage, DB Studios’ Kendall Sealey knows the steps to get you there.


Kendall sealey

Photo by Leah Fasten

Like so many young dancers, Kendall Sealey fell in love with the world of pirouettes and arabesques during her first viewing of The Nutcracker, at the age of five. Inspired, Sealey began studying ballet, which she practiced for years until she went to college and branched out to other styles—including ballroom dance. Now, as the owner of DB Studios in Lexington, Sealey teaches couples young and old the foxtrot, the rumba, the salsa, and more for their newlywed debuts. Her measure of success? Helping novices feel like they’re ready to rock the floor. “I love that anyone can be good at ballroom dancing and enjoy it,” she says. “If a couple feels comfortable and happy and proud of themselves, then I’m happy as a clam!”

What makes a couple’s first dance so meaningful?

It’s the first time that you present yourselves as being married. It sets the tone, and if you pick a song that’s really special to you, it’s a celebration of the moment, as well as of your past and future as a couple. So it’s a really intimate moment, but also a kind of public celebration.

When in the planning process should a couple start thinking about booking their dance lessons?

I recommend four months out for a couple’s introductory lesson because it gives us plenty of time to plan for a stress-free first dance. Usually couples start with a month of beginner group lessons, followed by weekly private lessons. It can often get very crazy before a wedding, so having a weekly standing appointment on the books before schedules go haywire is key.

Do they need dance experience when they come to you?

Oh, you don’t need any dance experience. A lot of people come in and at first they’re super nervous, and then when they leave they’re like, “I didn’t even think we would like dancing, but that was the most fun thing ever!” People will write me after the wedding and tell me that it was the best part of their wedding planning.

What dance styles can you teach?

We teach basically all of the ballroom dances, so foxtrot, tango, waltz, cha-cha, rumba, swing, salsa, hustle, bolero, quickstep—there’s a lot of them!

Do couples need to know what they want when they come to you?

A lot of the time we help them figure it out. Usually, people know what they don’t want: They know they don’t want to stand there; they don’t want to feel awkward or overly choreographed. They’re looking for that sweet spot where they look natural and nice together, but also like they’re doing something interesting.

What goes into choreographing a couple’s dance?

Usually we do a free intro lesson where I listen to their song, because songs have different beats and fit the ballroom dance styles differently. We talk about a lot of logistics, such as how big the dance floor is and whether they want to move around the floor or stay more in the middle, since the various styles travel around the room differently. Once we figure out what style works best, we talk about the vibe of the wedding—if they’re having a really formal reception or getting married in a barn. Then we just assess how they did on the lesson to know how many lessons they’ll need going forward.

How do you break down a ballroom dance to someone who’s never danced before?

All of the steps are based on walking, right? My favorite line is, “If you can walk, you can dance.” So usually I take the leader first and show the leader their steps, and we do it side by side and across the room until they get it. And then I take the follower and I show them their steps. When I feel like they both know where their feet are going, I put them together in what I call “safety hold,” where they’re just holding hands instead of being in proper dance frame. And usually, a bride is wearing her wedding shoes, which we don’t want to scuff up. We do safety hold until I feel confident that a partner won’t ruin her shoes. And then I put the couple in the actual dance frame and hold.

Do you have any signature moves that you teach?

The dip! It makes for a great picture, and it’s just an awesome memory to have. I also always encourage a very minimally choreographed entrance, for the transition period between announcing that it’s time for the first dance and the dance starting, because that can be an awkward couple of seconds.

Have you ever choreographed something truly wild?

I’ve done a couple of wedding-party flash-mob things. I did one to Beyoncé that was pretty fun. And then I’ve done a couple of really fun father-daughter choreographed surprise dances. Recently, I had a complete blast with a couple who came in and wanted to re-create the Dirty Dancing routine. They had never actually danced before, and they surprised their whole families.

442 Marrett Rd., Lexington, 617-286-6890, dancingbuns.com.

Tips

Stuck on which ballroom style best suits you and your sweetie? Let Kendall Sealey take the lead.

The “Artsy” Couple

YOUR LIKES: Vintage markets; new exhibitions at the MFA
YOUR SONG: “Such Great Heights” covered by Iron & Wine
YOUR DANCE: The swing or the rumba. You like to take risks, so you’re willing to try that extra spin and lift.

The “Hit-the-Town” Couple

YOUR LIKES: The Envoy rooftop; restaurant openings
YOUR SONG: “Fly Me to the Moon” by Frank Sinatra
YOUR DANCE: The waltz. You want to glide around the ballroom effortlessly with a grand entrance and a perfect dip.

The “Sporty” Couple

YOUR LIKES: Holiday fun runs; group tennis lessons
YOUR SONG: “Dancing in the Moonlight” by King Harvest
YOUR DANCE: The cha-cha or the hustle. You’re active and feel comfortable learning new skills, so you pick an upbeat song that shows off your stamina.

The “Love Nest” Couple

YOUR LIKES: Cooking dinners together; themed movie nights
YOUR SONG: “At Last” by Etta James
YOUR DANCE: The foxtrot. You love the idea of intimate moments on the dance floor, where you can sway to the music and look into each other’s eyes.

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