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Dance The Night Away
Lessons are becoming an important part of wedding plans

By Rebecca Konya
Photography by Jocelyn Coon

February 2014


Tyler and Stephanie Sopko took weekly dance lessons prior to their wedding. 

When Stephanie and Tyler Sopko started taking dance lessons at DanceSport Studios in Cedarburg last July, the couple’s intention was to learn some basic steps to feel more comfortable during their first dance as a married couple.

“We wanted to look smooth on the dance floor,” says Stephanie Sopko. “We didn’t want to just sway back and forth.”

Now the couple, who took weekly lessons up until their Oct. 19 wedding, have a lifetime of memories, including a choreographed father-daughter dance to Guns n’ Roses’ “Sweet Child of Mine.”

“It was a different look than what you would usually expect,” Sopko says.

The Sopkos are among a new generation of couples who are making dance lessons a standard part of their wedding preparations. Area dance studios have embraced the growing trend, offering everything from private lessons to mastering basic steps to choreographing wedding dance routines.

“Sometimes couples come in with elaborate ideas, but others just want to learn some basic steps so they’re not tripping over one another,” says Mark Webster, who manages Dancesport Studios of Cedarburg.

That was the case for Janet and Mitchell Noel, who were married last August. “Taking dance lessons helped put us at ease,” says Janet Noel. “It was a fun outlet.”

Elke Mischke, who runs the Fred Astaire dance studio in Mequon, says most couples start taking lessons one to two months before their wedding day. For more complicated dance routines, she suggests couples take lessons for at least four to six months. “There’s a lot of anticipation and build-up for wedding guests,” says Mischke. “It’s impressive to see the bride and groom dance well together.”

Along with private lessons, Fred Astaire hosts practice parties on Friday nights during which wedding couples are invited to perform their dances in front of other students and instructors.

“It’s an opportunity for couples to perfect their dance in front of an audience,” says Mischke. “They get a sense where they’re at and it helps take away the jitters.”

Russ Larson, an instructor at the Mequon Fred Astaire, says there’s a lot of hooting and hollering during the practice parties.

“All of the teachers and students are very supportive,” he says.

It’s not just brides and grooms tripping the light fantastic. Larson says he’s seen more parents in the studio in recent years too. “They’re the hosts of the evening,” he says. “They want to set the tone.”

Larson adds that long after the wedding is over, family and friends reminisce about the dancing. “People remember the dancing, not the table decor,” he says.

In fact, many couples have so much fun learning to dance they continue taking lessons even after the big day. “It’s a fun date night — especially for newlyweds,” says Nadine Rochelle, who also teaches at the Mequon Fred Astaire.

Since their wedding in October, the Sopkos still try to make it to a drop-in lesson at DanceSport once a month. “We miss our Monday night lessons,” Sopko says. “It was a great bonding experience with our parents.”

This story ran in the February 2014 issue of: