Photo Credit: Jeff Callen Photography

Today’s wedding vendor interview is with Szewai Lee, Owner and Wedding Dance Specialist at Duet Dance Studio located in Chicago, IL! Enjoy:

Tell us a bit about yourself and your company.

My name is Szewai (C-Y) Lee and I teach people to social dance for a living! I lead a team of talented and passionate dancers who love to share the joy of ballroom dance. My company, Duet Dance Studio, offers ballroom and Latin dance lessons and specializes in wedding dance instruction. While our studio is located in Chicago, IL, we offer Skype dance lessons for people anywhere in the world!

Read the full post after the cut!

Photo Credit: Sky’s the Limit Photography

How did you get into the business?

I began dancing when I was 4. And after my first dance class, I told my mom I wanted to become a dance teacher when I grew up. Ever since dancing has been a huge part of my life. I’ve done a variety of dances including ballet, jazz and modern. When I was in college as a dance major, I discovered ballroom dance and fell in love with the art form. Soon after college, I began teaching people to ballroom dance. In 2013, I took a leap of faith and opened my own dance studio, Duet Dance Studio. It’s been a decade since I started teaching couples to dance. I feel grateful for the opportunities to share the joy of dance with people and doing what I love every day. It is a dream-come-true!

What’s your favorite part of the job?

I love choreographing first dances. I love the whole process of getting to know a couple and their love story, introducing them to partner dancing and crafting a dance based on their unique style and personality. Choreographing is fun for me. And for the couple, learning a dance routine together can be challenging but also very fulfilling. Once they master the routine, rather it is simple or complex, romantic or cheerful, dancing it at their wedding as husband and wife is truly a magical experience. And I love watching the first dance videos that our couples send us. Words can’t express how much joy I receive when a couple nails their first dance at their wedding. It’s extremely rewarding!

Photo Credit: Photography by Will Rice

If you could pick one unique product or service offering, which would be your favorite, and why?

I think the dance lessons we offer to each couple is a unique experience itself. For most couples, taking dance lessons may not be the first thing that comes to mind when planning their wedding. But many of our past couples have told us dance lessons was one of the best investments they made for their wedding AND their marriage! They’ve learned a new skill together and a fantastic hobby they can share with the rest of their lives. Plus, planning a wedding can be very stressful. Many of our clients see the dance lessons as date nights where they can spend quality time together, relax and have fun.

What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned, and would pass along to others just getting started in your field?

The number one thing I’ve learned in my past 10 years of working with couples is to listen. Even though you know your craft very well, you have to put your ego aside and put your clients’ happiness first. I constantly remind myself that I’m here to serve my clients. I offer feedback and suggestions when it’s the right time. If a couple doesn’t like what I’ve choreographed, I listen to their feedback and fix it. This is their wedding after all and I’m here to create something special for them, not to me.

Photo Credit: Matt Haas Photography

What are your hobbies or non-work-related activities?

I love plants, vintage and DIYs! For my own wedding, I made all of my centerpieces and favors with succulent plants and vintage containers. And every Christmas, I make DIY gifts. One year, I made hand-dyed scarves. And last year, I made knitted hats and scarves for friends and family. I just love making things.

Any great stories from working with a client?

Years ago, I taught a couple to dance on their first date. They were such a fun couple to work with. I don’t remember why but they were in some crazy costumes too! But anyhow, the lesson went great and they had a wonderful time learning to dance on their first date. And a couple of years later, I got a phone call from the same guy and he wanted to book another dance lesson. But this time, he needed additional help from me because he wanted to propose to his girlfriend (the same girl) during the lesson! I immediately agreed to help. Before the lesson, I made up a fancy dance move that allowed him to get on his knee so that he could propose to her. I taught it to him during the lesson. He practiced the move in the lesson but she had no idea what was going to happen. Close to the end of the lesson, he did the move one last time, gracefully landed on one knee and popped the question. And of course, she said “Yes!” After the successful proposal, not only did I get to teach them to dance for their big day, I was also invited to their wedding. I feel so fortunate to be a part of a couple’s love story and to witness the growth of their love. Oh, and now, they are a family of 4!

Photo Credit: Love Is A Big Deal

What makes you different from others in your field?

I truly love weddings and so does everyone on my team! Besides knowing how to dance and teach couples to dance, we have a lot of personal experiences with weddings. For myself, having planned my own wedding and working with wedding couples on a daily basis have given me all of the tools and knowledge needed to help every couple look great dancing at their wedding. There are many dance studios and teachers out there who can teach you to dance, but not everyone can give you the insight into weddings. Wedding dance instruction is truly a unique service itself. Wedding dance specialists require a specific kind of talent, temperament, and experience to connect with couples. And I’m proud to say my team has what it takes to help every couple overcome the fear of social dancing and create the dance of their dreams.

Photo Credit: Love Is A Big Deal

Are there any trends that you absolutely love or would love to see brides leave behind?

Instead of a bridal flash mop, do the anniversary dance! For those of you who don’t know what it is, the anniversary dance is a wonderful way to invite your guests to the dance floor and honor the older couples in your family. During the dance, all married couples will be asked to get on the dance floor. Throughout the song, the DJ will ask married couples to leave the dance floor according to the years of marriage, starting with less than a year (including the newlyweds). And then, the DJ will move on to 2 years, 5 years, 10 years, 20 years and so on until the couple who has married the longest left on the dance floor. I love the anniversary dance because it is a perfect way to honor the beautiful marriages in your wedding party. And finally, besides the first dance, you can also do the last dance as a couple. Your wedding day will go by so quickly, the last dance will give you one final chance to slow down and savor this magical moment of your lives together as husband and wife!

Photo Credit: Jeff Callen Photography

What tips or advice can you give to couples who are in the midst of planning their big day?

Enjoy your engagement and the wedding planning. I know wedding planning can be difficult and stressful at times. So, give yourself plenty of time to prepare for your wedding, that way, you can enjoy the journey. Attend every tasting, photo shoot, dress fitting and dance lesson with an open mind and a positive attitude. Hire responsive and attentive vendors who can help take some stress off your shoulders. Have fun and be patient with fiancé/fiancée when learning to dance together. And make sure to open a bottle of champagne, make it a fun date night while going over wedding details with your fiancé/fiancée! Let this whole planning process bring you two closer and get you ready for the next chapter of your love story.

Thank you Szewai! For more information about  Duet Dance Studio, please visit their WeddingLovely Vendor Guide profile.

Do you have any questions or comments for Szewai? Add them to the comments below!