In-Person Vs. Online Dance Lessons for Your Wedding. BetterSway Chats with Kelly McWilliams on This Vs. That Podcast!Apr 19, 2022
We were thrilled to speak with the incomparable Kelly McWilliams on her award-winning This Vs. That podcast for wedding decisions! Check out the transcript for priceless info helping you decide whether to wing your dance, DIY it, go to a studio, or find an online solution to do at home!
Listen to the entire podcast here.
Transcript (edited for length and clarity):
Kelly - You likely fit into one of these categories: You’re doing a choreographed dance at your wedding, you’re not doing a first dance at all, you’re going to dance but you’re winging it and you want the music to play for like thirty seconds because this is not your jam, or you’ve practiced but don’t necessarily have a choreographed dance, or you’re both good dancers naturally and will probably just wing it but do really well. This episode is with the owners of BetterSway, honestly I didn’t know this truly existed and now I’m dumbfounded. Who wouldn’t do this? Like I want to do this! Ok, so let me tell you about Christy and Allen because they’re so cool and you’re going to love them by the end of this episode and by the end I wanted to take lessons myself.
So Allen and Christy met and began competitive ballroom dancing in college, they have been ballroom dance studio owners for twelve years and have loved sharing the joy of dance through over 4,000 in-person lessons! They’re also the owners and creators of BetterSway, an online wedding dance course designed to be the fastest, easiest, most romantic wedding dance built specifically for the “can’t dancer”. I love this, they have two boys ages 3 and 7, love being married, parenting, dancing and are excited to share their experience to help clients across the country have a wedding dance to remember!
This is truly a fun episode and it’s one of those that I want you to reach out to me afterwards and say “Kel, I’m totally trying this”. I mean when I went to look at how much the cost is for doing it I was like, oh my gosh why wouldn’t you?! Especially for those like me who really cannot dance, like it’s not my thing. But I’m also that person that will hit up a dance floor no matter what, I just don’t know what I’m doing out there. Ok, enough about me and my poor dance skills, let’s get into this episode.
Kelly - Hi Christy & Allen! So I have to tell you, I vaguely even remember my first dance, and I think it’s kind of unfortunate but may be fortunate because I know that it wasn’t good, and Kelly (my husband) and I still can’t dance but still get on the dance floor together. We’re the ones twirling around and he dips me but we don’t know what we’re doing, we’re faking it it’s so bad! But anyway, it’s a good reason for you guys to be in the show today so thanks for being here! So I’ve already told everyone about your company but why don’t you tell everybody listening about your expertise level and why specifically I’m having you guys on the show because this is such a great idea, very excited!
Allen - Yeah, so my wife and I we met in college and it’s a pretty fun story, she wanted to be on the ballroom dance team collegiately and I was a varsity soccer player, I didn’t know anything about dancing, didn’t have any clue what any of it was about, but I encouraged her to join the team and actually had to physically pick her up and carry her…
Christy - Yeah, he says he “encouraged” me to join the team, he fireman-carried me across the campus, dumped me in the tryout room and left!
Allen - So... I wasn’t sure how much I wanted to get into all that but thanks baby! So, she was scared to go to the tryout so I encouraged her by carrying her across campus and unceremoniously dumping her through the double doors and she falls into the middle of the tryout with the thing already going so she’s late and here she goes rolling into the middle of the tryout and she made the team which had one of the best instructors in the whole country and I don’t know if it was for pity’s sake or what it was but she made the team as a Freshman and that was how our whole dancing adventure started so she was able to be partnered with…
Kelly - Hold on, I think we’re missing a big point here, so you were a soccer player but now you dance with her?
Allen - Yeah, so the rest of the story is she was a Freshman and partnered with a Senior that year so she learned really quickly, had a great partner, then after he graduated and we were a couple I had to ask myself the question, am I going to start Ballroom dancing or am I going to sit on the sideline and watch her for the rest of my life because I’m starting to think I want to marry this girl. So I started dancing!
Kelly - Ohhhh, that’s a good story! Were you going to leave that out?!
Kelly - Oh my gosh, I mean we’re talking weddings here so I kinda feel that’s a big deal, that is a good story!
Christy - My partner was so great and I just progressed so quickly because of him and when he had to move on it was such a big deal trying to find another partner because it’s a sport that really requires two people you really can’t do it on your own. When Allen decided he was going to be my partner it wasn’t like this casual, “oh yeah I’ll dance with you” it was like, “ok baby, four hours every night, we are doing this thing!”
Allen - It was a huge commitment! I was terrible, I was absolutely terrible in the beginning and it was hard. You know, after maybe a year of dedicated effort I was good enough to where we could go to competition and not embarrass her, but you know dancing is a fine art. It’s not something that you just pick up overnight and it’s something that is extremely worthwhile. We have couples that we teach that are still doing it in their 80’s and it’s something that you can start at any time and do it to any level that you want to. We were trying to be competitive at a high level and that’s not for everybody.
Kelly - Got it, so that brings a question to my mind: When you do something like ballroom dancing, I’m not thinking about weddings at this moment but I promise we’re going to get back to that don’t worry, you know how you hear about people who go to ballroom classes every week–are they still learning every week or are they just going and it’s kinda like a club and they go to dance together?
Christy - That’s such a good question and it really depends on the couple, sometimes you’ll have people with really intense jobs and they’ll say “this is the only time in the week when I get to be away from that” because you can’t really focus on your dance and think about what’s going on in your life. It’s really like an hour of vacation every week for a lot of people.
Allen - Yeah, I will say my goal is to make sure that every lesson they walk out having had a fantastic experience and that they are better than when they walked in. It’s like painting, it’s not like you ever get to be the best that you can be at painting, you can always get better you can always consider different ways of doing things there’s always different dances that you can try. We teach 12-13 different dances so, try a few years to master one specific style and then great you have twelve more you can do, so it’s limitless.
Kelly - Ok, I’m glad you spelled that out for me, that’s one of those things I was just curious about. Explain to me, what it is that you guys offer and maybe the different kinds of online dance learning that you can do, I’m going to be a mess with words because I know nothing about dancing! Maybe explain to us first the different kinds of options for learning some kind of dance for a wedding or even just to be better dancers and then we can talk about the pros and cons of learning or looking like a sixth grader on the dance floor at your wedding, definitely the lane that I was in!
Allen - I can do that in part by finishing our story! So, we got married right after we graduated and decided that we were going to open up our own dance studio. Well that was some 13 years ago, over the years we learned that not everybody wants to be a competitive-level type dancer which was pretty much all that we knew. So over the course of 13 years of teaching everyone under the sun, all ages, all levels of interest, we started realizing that it can be intimidating sometimes to come into a private lesson. It can be intimidating to come into a group lesson. Predominantly what we do are private lessons but those are the main options you have is either you hire somebody to instruct you in private lessons whether that’s just for fun or for a wedding. Or there are oftentimes in-person group lessons that you can go to, or especially with Covid there’s an increasing number of things you can do online. You could try to look for stuff randomly on YouTube, that’s a bit difficult to find what’s really going to be good for you. Or you can do something like what we came up with. During Covid our dance studio got shut down just like many businesses did, so we started putting our heads together and saying, we’ve got all this experience of all these years of students learning, what are the things they’ve struggled with? What are the obstacles that keep people from being able to have a fantastic time dancing because really my wife and I fell in love dancing in a lot of ways. It’s such an incredible experience for so many people, how can we lower those obstacles and lower those barriers and make it easier for people to be able to dance together? And not like being a professional dancer not being a competitive dancer but just being able to do something easy just being able to mess around in your living room.
Christy - That’s the thing, I’ve said for years how a person can walk into our studio sometimes and if you just ask them to walk a straight line they’re falling all over themselves because all of a sudden they’re terrified and they can’t figure out how to do it anymore! There’s so much of an intimidation factor, I mean our grandparents that’s what they did, they went out and danced. That’s how you met people, that’s how you spent your weekends…today if you’re a dancer oh well it’s “Dancing With the Stars” or it’s something really impressive and we’ve completely lost just normal people dancing. When people try it’s like “Oh I’m the worst dancer ever” and there just doesn’t need to be that uncomfortability because it’s so worthwhile and especially in relationships it works wonders. We wanted to just lower that bar all the way to the ground to start everybody dancing! It doesn’t have to be all posh, super stiff, there’s so many good ways to just move together and that was the inspiration for the project.
Kelly - So do you guys teach specifically for weddings only or can anyone do these things?
Allen - I’d say approximately 1/3 of the lessons that we teach are for weddings, probably 1/3 are for couples who just want to do something new and have a date night or pick up a new hobby. Then 1/3 are long-term students who, some of them are interested in getting competitive and really getting serious with it, others it’s the thing they’ve enjoyed doing and they love going out to different social dances and things like that. They want to get better and do a good job with it, but that’s kind of the breakdown.
Kelly - So here’s where I’m coming from, as a wedding planner and someone who has been at hundreds and hundreds of weddings. We have several different types of people at weddings. For couples, we have the couples who it is very apparent they went and took lessons and learned a very specific choreographed song to perfection and it’s like “Wow”. They invested in this and it’s so cool and it’s very exciting when that happens, I love that. I also have had clients who I know did it just so that they didn’t look like fools on the dance floor, like "We just want to be to the point where he can spin me, she can spin me, we can do a dip” and then cut the song off after 30 seconds. They just needed to have that level of comfort that they’re not going to step on each other's toes during their First Dance. Then there are the ones who unfortunately have not done anything, are incredibly clearly uncomfortable being on the dance floor with eyes looking at them and stand there like in sixth grade you know, a foot-and-a-half apart from each other just swaying almost and their feet never move from the original position. So let me ask you this, do you guys offer/is that something they could find online where any one of those instances that is something that can be learned online…yay or nay?
Christy - That’s an excellent question, for the couples that want something really specific choreographed to their song, and we love doing that we do that all the time, really you should find a local studio and do the private lessons because that is the only way to make that work out unless you really have the time and energy and desire to do that yourself. A local studio is your best bet for something like that and that will take a serious amount of time. I always say “Go for something small done better than going for something huge and doing it cringey”.
Kelly - I fully agree with you, because I’ve seen them not go really really well and I feel like, Ok if it had just been 45 seconds it would have been really good and they really could have nailed it. I couldn’t agree more with you there, Christy!
Christy - Totally, and if you want to do that it’s absolutely fantastic! Just make sure you’re actually putting in the time and not doing a last-minute scramble. The reason being, when you’re nervous and you don’t have the muscle memory then things just fall by the wayside and they can tumble down the stairs like you were saying. For anybody else really, tons of couples come into our studio and they say “I don’t know what I want but I just don’t want to look stupid!” I completely understand that, most people are not dance experts knowing all the different styles and what the dances are called when they come in and they shouldn’t have to be! Really for everyone else, especially if you have a nervous fiancé, they should be able to find something online. Now BetterSway is a little bit different than most because it’s not just a course trying to rehash legacy dance styles, this was a ten-year passion project in my mind as far as just seeing thousands of couples dance. Even being a dance instructor I was also a wedding photographer for years...
Kelly - I didn’t know that! Cool!
Christy - Yeah! I would see couples that had come from all the spaces you’re talking about, some that were absolutely terrified and I felt so bad for them.
Kelly - Don’t you though?! That’s the worst part! And you know that you’re not the only person in the room that is realizing this, that everybody truly is realizing how uncomfortable they are.
Christy - It’s so uncomfortable to watch because you just feel bad, like you don’t have to put yourself through that. If you don’t want to do a dance you don’t have to do a dance, girl!
Allen - This is exactly why we created BetterSway and I’m sure that there are plenty of other good options out there too, we can only speak from our own experience. You mentioned the awkward high-school back and forth thing–there’s nothing wrong with getting out there and doing it your own way, but you want to make sure that when you go out there that you’re having fun because that’s what your audience wants to see! We took that awkward sway and created “BetterSway.” So this is our online product that is not for people who want to do a Chacha or a Waltz, or a Tango, it’s specifically for the “can’t dancer” right so if you’re somebody who can’t dance, you don’t want to do anything that’s super crazy…
Christy - You don’t want to count beats, you don’t want the stiff frame, you don’t want to memorize a whole bunch of stuff. This is what I mean when I say it took like 10 years of thinking, there’s tons of engineering behind the scenes. In fact we had two partners working with us to go through this and we would wake up in the morning, start working all day until late at night or the wee hours of the next morning, go to sleep wake up and do it again. Six days a week it was so much work and we did that for two months to make sure everything was perfect so that we could give the least amount of instruction and get the very best result out of it. We’ve watched people for such a long time and you just notice “People just like to do this” so how do we make it that they can do that and it’s not an issue. We re-engineered the steps for how people like to do them, and because we didn’t have to live in one dance only we took the best, the steps that people love, out of a bunch of different dances, put them into this one envelope and it’s incredible. Actually a lot of our couples that come into our studio and once they see a bit of this that’s what they want because it has that laid back, super competent, super fun, without being stiff and awkward.
Kelly - I LOVE this idea so much
Allen - Probably 9 out of every 10 couples that come in for a wedding, once I lay out the options, ok you can do a Rumba you can do a Waltz, here’s this thing we came up with that’s called BetterSway...9 time out of 10 they choose BetterSway!
Kelly - I want Bettersway! You convinced me that quickly that’s what I want! I want to know that my husband is not going to drop me when he dips me and I want to spin like we’re not both trying to spin the wrong direction with my arms caught behind my back–you know all those things!
Christy - You’re talking exactly, and this is the benefit of having done it for so long, you just get all that feedback and you’re like "What do the couples really really at the base want? Do they REALLY want this and that? No this is what they always want." So how do we make that easy? We knew we had arrived at something really special when we did a ton of user testing, because we wanted this to be ready for prime-time as soon as it was released, we wanted these couples for their weddings to be ready to go immediately...So we did all this user testing and usually it’ll take 15-20 minutes to get a rudimentary understanding of a step in Ballroom or Latin because it just takes time, you know there’s tons of technique that you have to learn to be able to do it in any kind of way that looks like anything.
Allen - Well, and a lot of footwork too, I mean you’ve got to learn patterns, timing...
Christy - Totally, we were getting results in under 4 minutes! People would have these steps down so well that they would just go off and do them on their own, like it’s been 3 minutes we’re done and they’re doing it and they look fantastic! Really there was so much engineering that went into it but the end product just seems so simple, like most things.
Kelly - I mean you’ve 100% convinced me in this little bit of time. I didn’t realize that’s what it was, now I get the “BetterSway” thing, I get it! It’s fantastic and brilliant on so many levels! Ok, so let’s get into This Vs. That the pros and cons of all of these things. Let’s chat then about the different approaches to getting some education on dancing. To get to a BetterSway or something different, well, no one else does BetterSway really right? Like you guys are the originators of BetterSway?
Christy - Totally, there’s absolutely nothing else out there like BetterSway but it just depends on what you’re looking for, if you know that you want to do a straight Waltz for your wedding, you probably will be able to find courses online that are Waltz lessons or of course go into your local studio.
Kelly - Alright, so Allen I think we were talking earlier that you said you could go to YouTube, is that what you were saying?
Allen - Yeah, and I would say there’s four different ways that you could probably approach this as far as This Vs. That. You could A.) Get up there and wing it, which is kinda what we talked about. If you’re just a performer and you feel really comfortable in front of people and you’re not going to get weirded out by that and you just want to get up there and wing it, go for it! As long as you’re confident great, go out and have fun! But most people aren’t, most people are going to get up there and try to wing it and they’re gonna feel awkward and everyone else is gonna feel awkward and you’re going to be thinking “Yeah wish I’d thought about this a little bit better”. So that’s number one pros/cons and depends on who you are.
Kelly - And that’s not what you want on your wedding night, to spend a minute and a half being like, “I can’t believe we did this why didn’t we take the time to do something about it?!” No, you should be enjoying that time. You know what I was just thinking, sorry I get off-track really fast, I wonder if because of this is why so often so many of my clients will say “Thirty seconds and that’s it” like cut it off. Instead of really relishing that time and taking the full minute, but it’s not even just with the two of them, they do it with their parent dances as well. In that generation our parents generation and grandparents they really invested in, they learned how to dance as a child and I don’t know if they used to teach that in school like it was part of growing up, they don’t do that anymore. But doesn’t it seem like those generations all really know how to dance? When I do weddings I’m like “wow they’re really good” and I don’t know if they all took lessons later in life.
Ok, so we’ve kind of tackled the “We just are going to look ridiculous out on the dance floor” so now we are moving onto people who are like “I’m not going to let this happen to me.” Their options are???
Allen - Sure, so a lot of people will try to simply look up videos on YouTube or whatever kind of online free website you want to go to and do it themselves, now that is really big time commitment, much more-so than you would think. That’s a big commitment on yourself not only time but digging in and figuring it all out. I mean there’s a billion things out there and how are you going to figure out what’s right for you?
Christy - The other thing about that though is if you go into a studio you have the advantage of an instructor being able to watch you and tell you–you know when you do aerobics, I still do Jane Fonda, not gonna lie I really do–but you see them doing it and you’re like “Oh that’s what I’m doing,” but if you had a camera on you you’d be so horrified because no that’s not even close to what you’re doing. So if you have a studio then at least you have the benefit of someone being like “Ok, well your hand is 20 inches lower than you thought it was” so you have that…now in BetterSway we dealt with that because the issues have been engineered out already. But that’s a con as well to an online course, like say you were going to try an online Waltz, you don’t have that eye to be able to tell you where you’re actually hitting your technique.
Kelly - Right, you know what I was thinking also when we started talking about even just going to YouTube. When I think about YouTube, and I’m going to be really transparent here, I’m just learning how great YouTube is in the last few months. Meaning that I didn’t know you could learn anything and everything on YouTube. Like everything, I’m totally new to all of this, but here’s what I’ve also learned, there are people teaching things on there who should not be teaching things on there that don’t know what they’re doing. I feel like that could be one of the cons that you could spend so much time diving in and trying to find something that’s good only to find out that really that was like the worst one you could have picked, you know and what a waste!
Allen - Yeah, you could say to yourself “Hey I want to learn Swing”, ok well there’s probably about 7 different kinds of Swing and if you decide that you’re going to start working on learning a Swing for your wedding you get into it and realize "Ok, even though I love the way Swing looks it’s just not for me, this is much harder than I thought it was going to be," then you’ve already wasted 20-30 hours trying to learn something and ok what do you do now?
Christy - Kelly you’re so right, when we have couples, especially couples who want to learn serious dance for competition or something, but really almost anyone I tell them immediately just stay off of YouTube, stay off all of the “how to’s” because it’s anybody saying anything and that doesn’t mean there isn’t good stuff out there but there is tons of really horrible, cringeworthy stuff out there and it’s much easier not to work out issues that you can pick up from that. But you’re totally right there’s good stuff, it can be hard to know what is what of course.
Kelly - So what we’ve learned from the YouTube discussion is that the pro is clearly it’s free and you can probably get an idea of the kinds of things that are out there, the different kinds of dances that you could be doing if you want to go that route. The cons are you could be searching for a long time. You could be taking a very long time to learn something only to discover you hate it and you want to start over, I mean I’m sure it does happen and you could be learning something that really isn’t, you think it’s a Waltz and at the end you find out it’s not.
Christy - And that happens all the time, even some people who instruct in dance they’ll bend all kinds of rules and stuff and as our instructor said “There is no certificate of, you know you could go to anyone and they can say they’re a dance instructor” and there are different styles and everything else, you know it runs the gamut. But as long as people are getting other people dancing, that’s really the key. I don’t like, some people get very snobby about their dance like I just want people to dance, I want them to be happy. And if you’re happy and you’re confident and you’re enjoying it, everyone will be happy watching you. There is no need to get your feathers ruffled over your dance, it should be wonderful.
Kelly - So there’s the YouTube route, what other routes are there, like I really don’t even know?
Allen - So out of the 4, we already talked about going up and free styling, we talked about discovering your own free version with videos out there, the third would be doing private lessons or maybe group lessons at a local studio. And now some people may not, if you’re in a rural area it may be an hour drive to find a local dance studio so that’s a consideration.
Kelly - I have a question about that, you guys who have the studio but for anyone who’s anywhere else in the world could you give a little advice on how they should approach that, is there anything they should ask right off the bat or any kind of tips or advice for how to actually do it?
Allen - If you’re going to look for private instruction or even a group session I would highly recommend that you go to someplace that is, they have on their website or you call them and they tell you “Yes we specifically do wedding instruction”. So rarely, it’s exceedingly rare that we have somebody come to our studio and they’re like “We just really want to do this style of dance,” it’s more-so like “Ok, this is the song I like” and you want to make sure that whoever it is that you’re hiring to teach you can help you build something that’s right for you that’s specific for a wedding and not have somebody who’s trying to teach you a bunch of high-level skill stuff that’s for a competitive level or something that’s just really not matching what you’re looking for for your wedding.
Christy - You just need to make sure that you trust and really mesh with the person. Give them a call first, see if they’ll take your call and talk to you about what your lessons would be like. See if you really mesh, like we’ll meet with people in person before they even start just to make sure they’re comfortable with us…and you know, the more experience often the better too. But it’s so the case that you don’t want to just jump in and then you realize you’re really uncomfortable with this but "We spent the money and now we have to go through with it." Then you get that horrible uncomfortable nervous thing going on and it’s just unnecessary. It can be hard, I suggest trying to ask around. Like we don’t advertise our local studio, we’ve never spent a penny advertising it and it’s the relationship, it’s the reputation that’s built up in the community, that’s why people come to us in person and if your community has anything like that–like your buddy did a dance and they loved it, or “Gosh I went to Sarah’s wedding and she was amazing,” call her and see who she went to because it’s all about the people teaching it. Ultimately the best dancers are not always going to be the best instructors and you just want someone who has your needs in mind and your best interest and isn’t just there to teach whatever they usually teach, someone willing to really listen to you.
Allen - That’s part of why I would caution about going to group lessons, if you go to a group lesson whoever is instructing is instructing for a large group not particularly for you or for your song or your dance at your wedding. Not that you can’t pick up great stuff and not that I wouldn’t recommend that, but just don’t think that you’re going to go to a group lesson and come out of it with a boxed up dance ready to go.
Kelly - Got it, are there any cons to going the live route? Is it very pricey, is it…
Christy - It can be very expensive, especially private lessons can be more expensive. Often the stopper I think couples run into is the fiancé is just like “I don’t want to go.” Often times we’ve noticed over the years it’s a guy who will come in just “I don’t want to be here” and usually they’re the ones who later are like “Yeah man, we’ve got to practice let’s do this more!” It’s so funny how it works. But if your fiancé’s really nervous that’s a con. Obviously with schedules you have two people’s schedule that you have to match with the studio that can be a huge deal especially if people work different shifts.
Allen - So usually if you want to do private lessons you need to start months in advance.
Christy - And if you meet your instructor and you just didn’t jive and you have this awkward…that’s a possible con but hopefully you can smooth that out first by meeting them first or talking to them first.
Kelly - Cool, so that leads us to, online is it a…what do I call this?
Allen - For this category for something like Bettersway.com, this is online dance courses that are specifically geared toward weddings or learning a particular dance style. If you know “This is my song, I know it’s a Waltz, I want to learn a Waltz” ok great you can find online instruction to learn a Waltz or you can learn online instruction that’s tailored to weddings. Again I can’t really speak to those of other folks but Bettersway.com is our version of that, there are others out there that I do think are more specific toward ballroom styles, but yeah there are a few different options out there.
Kelly - Ok, so if one was interested in this and they’re like “This sounds really cool” when they go to Bettersway.com is it like modules like you go and they pick a lesson and they’re like “Oh this is going to be so that we learn how to spin” and there’s another one that is a package that is “spinning and dipping” and like how to move across the dance floor, is it like that?
Christy - That’s a great question! So, we sweated bullets over making this the EASIEST thing, truly if you want the easiest thing, in my entire career I can’t point you to anything that comes close to BetterSway. If you want to be a professional dancer, compete on the circuit that’s totally not what you’re looking for. So we wanted the packages to be incredibly easy, so if you’re getting married, you go to bettersway.com there’s a wedding tab with a wedding package and on that are all the steps that we vetted. We vetted these things with tons of different dresses of different styles, different widths and everything else…
Kelly - What?!!
Christy - We vetted them in reception halls, in dance shoes, wedding shoes…oh girl we wanted to make sure this was so easy!
Kelly - You guys don’t see this but my jaw dropped when she said all this because I wouldn’t even think of that, it wouldn’t even occur to me and you have clearly thought about it.
Christy - Totally it’s all there and how we did it is you buy one course and you have unlimited access, you can repeat it whenever you want, you can repeat any part of it whenever you want, you can login whenever you want there’s no time limit. Basically you go in there and you have a list of the different steps and they're named and you have a little video with a little preview if you need help remembering what each one was. Basically you can be watch the preview and be like “Oh, that one was dope I want to learn that” or you can be like “Ahhh, I don’t really want to do this one” and skip it! There’s no reason you have to go in order, there’s no reason you have to do everything. We even made up these optional sequences where we put them in a certain order and we show you a different way to link them together and it’s totally optional but we wanted everyone to have the tools they wanted to have the dance they wanted to the song they wanted. I always have to make the point, just because it’s so simple, that it does not look easy! It looks really really cool, we’re getting better results out of this than people who will take much more time to learn a standard dance just because of the engineering that went on behind the scenes.
Allen - One of the biggest things about that too is one of the biggest difficulties across the board for either one of the couple, guys in particular tend to have focus a lot on having to move their feet, that’s a big problem you’re having to lead the lady and then also having to think about “Alright what am I supposed to be doing with my feet?” What’s cool about BetterSway is the guy hardly has to really move at all, so it’s mostly the guy is staying in one spot, swaying back and forth, not having to keep track of what he’s doing with his feet. He can have all of his attention on the lady and being able to use his arms and lead her and spin her and do all these different steps and put them together in a way where he’s not having to think about what he’s doing with his feet. You get all of these really cool looks, every step has “This step was inspired by the Chacha, this step was inspired by Salsa” whatever it was inspired by, we actually took steps that we teach in Chacha or Salsa or Waltz or Tango and deconstructed them so you still get the same look but you don’t have to think about what you’re doing with your feet. So the guys just have to think about what they do with their hands and leading the lady one way or the other and doing the different turns and things like that.
Christy - That was really the key to it, when people think 'dance' they immediately go to their feet and then they freak out because none of us know how to do that. We took the driver from the feet and we moved it to the arms, because everyone’s used to using their arms. You can understand a command that’s given to you to move your arm infinitely easier than you can to move your foot. So the engine behind the entire dance is the arms and it’s so much easier because you’re getting the same shapes, people are naturally moving where they’re supposed to go but they didn’t have to think about it.
Kelly - This is so smart, because my feet definitely don’t work. I feel like I’m being so selfish right now because I’m thinking “How is this going to make things better for me?”
Christy - We did this because so many couples have struggled with this forever and we really want there to be a renaissance in dancing. Not only for weddings but for anybody who wants to learn how to dance, it doesn’t need to be this difficult hurdle.
Kelly - I can totally see this being so much fun for couples in general, you guys I mean I can imagine during quarantine and Covid that people were all over this, but I mean I’m sitting here thinking what a cool gift also to give people?
Christy - Totally, and we have the wedding module that’s completely isolated for wedding, everything about it is perfect for wedding, even the demos, everything is done in formal attire just so people can see what it really looks like. But we also have just date nights, like a date night course that you can pick up anytime. Grab a glass of wine, grab your partner, and we wanted it to be like, I don’t know about you but we love to watch cooking shows–shoutout to Jamie Oliver–and we wanted it to be that kind of experience. So many dance lessons, video ones especially can be extremely dry and boring and you’re just sitting there hating this hour. We just wanted it to be beautiful, super fun, moves really quickly, gets to the point, we have fantastic music in there from artists and we wanted this to be a date night experience. That same ethos goes through the wedding course as well, everything about it is just casual, light, easy, fun, it’s beautiful. We were really blessed to find an artist to beautifully produce it, but the date nights, I love them.
Kelly - How long are the courses? Can someone go in, what if their wedding is in a week, could they go in and get anything out of it in a week or no?
Christy - Oh gosh, if your wedding is the next morning you can totally do BetterSway!
Kelly - What?!?
Christy - Not even kidding, yeah totally. In fact you can have like four, five decent steps down in an evening.
Kelly - This is a shocker…
Christy - It’s a game changer, it’s totally a game-changer for us too because we have people come to us like “Seriously my wedding’s this weekend, I’m freaking out, I didn’t do anything” and there’s no chance you’re getting them anything decent in Latin or Ballroom but you can throw some BetterSway at them and they look like they’ve been doing this sucker for weeks or months.
Kelly - This is amazing, you know who needs to know about this, all the videographers listening! I feel like, right, the videographers should be talking about this! They could make so much more out of their videos if they looked a little bit better on the dance floor. They’re the perfect people to send the word out! They clearly can’t go on Instagram and say “Here’s the couple that didn’t do anything and here’s the couple that did BetterSway”. But I would give them permission to use me as an example just so they can, you know, this is me pre-BetterSway and this is me after!
Allen - Absolutely we would love that, send us videos!
Christy - To answer your question, the wedding course is probably about 1 hour 20 minutes, an hour and a half total of actual film and that’s broken down into 18 steps so when I say you can pick these things up in four minutes, practice it for two, I mean this is not like 8 hours of laborious learning, absolutely not.
Allen - Each step is usually 4-6 minutes of video time.
Kelly - This is so cool, this is so cool. Thinking about how many people we crowd out on the dance floor now I just think this is such a brilliant idea. When you just think about limiting it down, it’s just so broad from This Vs. That. I feel like most couples are winging it, like truly uncomfortable and that’s why they say often go to that “Kelly cut the band to 30 seconds” and while it’s great if that’s what makes them comfortable I can do it but I feel like from the emotional perspective they’re losing what that first dance was to be about. You know? They aren’t getting what they could out of it and I would love for more people to be able to experience that vs that just being like “there’s 100 people staring at me right now and I’m looking really dumb” you know because that’s what’s going through their head vs just enjoying and knowing that this is your first dance as married people you know? Or to start your celebration off or to dance with your parents I mean there’s just so much and how exciting for your parents to be able to dance with them, you know they’re better at it!
Allen - Totally and we’ve had plenty of daddy-daughter dances folks use BetterSway too, the cool thing about it is it’s so versatile you can do it to any song, you don’t have to worry about the timing.
Christy - Did we say you don’t have to count beats at all?! There is NO "slow-quick’s," like oh my gosh, game changer!
Kelly - You said that! One of the things that I forgot about this question, they come to my mind and then I’m distracted. But you have said a couple times that you could do it to any song, so really you’re teaching things that you feel it when you want to do it in the song that you’re using. You don’t go into your workshop or whatever to take the classes and pick a song to do it to, it’s just telling you how to make the movement and then if that movement feels comfortable for that part of the song that you’re doing, then throw it in there.
Christy - Totally, when you’re learning Ballroom or Latin you have to learn the beat of the dance, how that goes to the style of song. A Waltz has this specific time that you have to learn and how that goes with all the technique and everything. But with BetterSway we dealt with the communication between the partners in a way that you won’t even notice it and you don’t require a frame either. Because of that you can pick any song, it can be super slow and romantic it can be super hot and fast and as long as you guys are together it works completely fine. There is no timing requirement and I’m not aware of any other dance actually that can say the same. I love what you were saying earlier about the first dance because people, I can’t tell you how much I love it when people contact us and are like “The dance was the best part of the wedding, it was my favorite, everyone’s still talking about it!!!” I absolutely love that because you know that set them up for the rest of their lives and that’s the important part, they can go on their honeymoon, they’re going to Mexico, they’re going wherever and they can dance there, they can dance the rest of their lives and that’s really the important part because it’s such a wonderful thing for couples to be able to do.
Kelly - Because the confidence is built in there, where you know when you go to, again go on your honeymoon and you go to one of the restaurants or the clubs at the resort you’re at or whatever and they have great music and you see that people are dancing but if you’re uncomfortable you’re not joining in that part! And it could have been so much fun. So imagine if you had done this and taken these lessons specifically for your wedding then in turn you realize, just like you said, you have set yourself up for life where you get to join that celebration on the dance floor because you feel confident in it.
Allen - And not only that, couples dancing in particular, there’s not another thing that I can think of that that you can do that is physically challenging…depending on how you dance it you could be breathing pretty heavy at the end of the dance…it’s mentally challenging being able to learn how you’re actually moving together in space. I mean I was a soccer player, dancing was far more challenging to me physically when I actually got really good at it than soccer ever was. It’s relationally challenging in a good way where you’re completely dependent on your partner. When dancing you’re together, it’s totally intimate, you’re totally relying on each other you’re learning how to work together and build a relationship in a real way where you’re building something together and it’s something that you can do into being a senior, like I said we have couples in their 80’s. What else can you do as a couple that’s physically stimulating, mentally stimulating, romantic…sure you could play golf together when you’re in your 70’s maybe but even then you’re just standing next to each other, you’re not actually physically participating together in something that’s worthwhile that really feels like you’re accomplishing something together as a unit, as a team.
Christy - And it's something you can just pick up! I totally love what you were saying about hitting a restaurant and they start playing music and there’ll be the one couple that stands up and they “took lessons” so they know how but like…
Kelly - YES. Oh my gosh and I see that all the time
Christy - That should be everybody!
Kelly - That should be everyone and I would like to be those people and I don’t want to wait until I’m 70 to do it!
Christy - Well and then too, say you wanted this really slow romantic wedding dance and that’s what you learn but you’re going on your honeymoon somewhere where they play tons of latin music, if you’ve done BetterSway you can totally bust out, it doesn’t matter what it is you can use the exact same kind of moves the ones you’re super comfortable with and you can bust them out anywhere to any song, that’s the beauty of it.
Allen - Yep just speed it up or slow it down!
Kelly - Beyond brilliant, you guys we’ve been on here an hour talking about this, and I was like “this is going to be a 20 minute episode” clearly not! Im sooo... you can see I’ve just gotten more excited as this episode went on because I’m realizing what a huge difference this could make. I hope you’re prepared, I hope your servers are ready for all of this!
Christy - It can change your life!
Kelly - You guys, thank you so much for being on the show, like I really really do appreciate it, my mind is blown on so many levels but I’m also…I keep going back in my head to thinking how much better this is going to make things for people. How much more significant a first dance can be for all the couples that are touched by this it’s great!!! It’s really really great, so thank you both very very much and I wish you all the successes. Thank you guys so much!
Allen - Our pleasure, thank you for having us on!
We hope you enjoyed this wonderful time we had with Kelly! She's incredibly talented and so sweet, check out her podcast for lots of other wedding decision episodes!
Kelly's Site: http://www.kellymcwilliams.com
A vet of the industry, Kelly knows how incredible a wedding can be. She creates from scratch and believes every moment counts and every decision plays a part in what makes your event magnificent. She believes in making events beautiful AND fun. Published & recognized locally, nationally and globally including Martha Stewart Top Wedding Planner, Brides magazine and WeddingWire's best podcast. Home is in SWFL with husband Kelly J , mom to Maddy & Emily and dogs Reau & Olive.
Get started today .... go dancing tonight
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