Today’s wedding vendor interview is with Sandra Korpitz, Dance Instructor at Fred Astaire Dance Studio in Memphis, TN! Enjoy:
Tell us a bit about yourself and your company.
I’m born and raised in Memphis, TN. Got into dancing at a young age and was even part of a National Winning High School cheerleading team. When competing professionally in a ballroom, I focused more on the rhythm style and became a Regional Smooth and Rhythm Champion as well as a National Runner-Up. I have won Top in Referrals multiple times in my region, as well as the country. I’ve trained under Dancing with the Stars’ Tony Dovolani and Fabian Sanchez as well as National 9-Dance Champion, Sergei Shapoval.
Read the full interview after the cut!
Fred Astaire Dance Studio is celebrating 70 years of teaching the public to dance. There are 171 studios worldwide, although most are in the United States. Most students begin dancing for fun, exercise, an outlet from stress, and of course to go out socially. However, 25% of our business revolves around wedding dances. Here in Memphis, we’re happy to say we choreograph first dances for approximately 150 brides and grooms per year! We ask them to choose their music and we prepare a special personalized routine just for them. Some couples just want to “get by,” while many others want something their friends and family will talk about long after their special day! We consult with our couples about the length of the song, wedding dress dance-ability, as well as shoes.
How did you get into the business?
As most girls do, I took ballet, tap and jazz lessons as a kid and really developed a love for dance. As a teen, I began to take some ballroom lessons and knew this was the job for me! I always knew I wasn’t the type that could sit at a desk all day, so teaching dance fulfilled everything I could ever want in a job.
What’s your favorite part of the job?
Everything about my job is so fun! But I have to say that my favorite part is working on routines with students because setting a goal and working towards reaching it is so rewarding, for both the student and the teacher. Gradually progressing and seeing the goal become more and more of a reality is such a fun process!
If you could pick one unique product or service offering, which would be your favorite, and why?
We teach people to dance for all occasions; parties, galas, weddings, social commitments, and some even just for a date night or hobby. But wedding couples, specifically couples preparing for their first dance, have always had a special place in my heart. They’re so vibrant with love! I don’t take lightly the fact that they’re trusting me to be a part of something very special to them – something they’ll remember for the rest of their lives.
What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned, and would pass along to others just getting started in your field?
I’ve learned that you’ll go so much farther in this field if you actually care. Genuinely make friends with your students. Like them! Talk about what excites them about their dance lessons, and what makes them nervous about coming in and learning to dance. Realize that every one of them is different, and if they can’t learn the way that you teach, you need to be able to teach the way they learn. When you have a genuine connection with your students, you earn their trust and that’s when they start to loosen up, open up, and actually learn how to dance and have fun with it!
What are your hobbies or non-work-related activities?
I’m a very social and active person. I like to go to the gym and take group classes like yoga. I’m part of a running group. And I actually like to go out dancing! It’s fun to bust a move and freestyle a little in the real world!
Any great stories from working with a client?
One time my manager told me I was teaching a new young wedding couple that wanted to recreate the oh-so-famous “Dirty Dancing Routine”….even the lift. I panicked! I didn’t know these people! Are they even capable of doing the lift? I’ve never taught anyone to do that lift! I’ve never even tried to do the lift myself! SO I was prepared for anything and when the sweet couple came in for their consultation, I saw her face light up when we talked about the epic lift and I knew we had to do it. So we worked hard, and we struggled. Sometimes they hit it better than others and sometimes we had to use our escape plan. I suggested they do a performance in one of the shows as kind of a “dress rehearsal” to see how they did under pressure and without me right next to them helping. They practiced at home and even came into the studio on their off days to practice while I was teaching other students. And at our big show, I watched with nervous knots in my stomach until THEY NAILED IT. The crowd went wild, and I was so happy I cried! After that, their confidence was boosted and they did a perfect job of the whole dance at the actual wedding! It was quite a rewarding experience that I know I’ll never forget, and I bet they won’t either!
What makes you different from others in your field?
I started taking ballroom dance lessons at age 12 and started competing at age 13. I remember what it was like to be a student and can see things from a student’s point of view. I think this makes me different from others in my field who immediately may have segued from other styles of dance training (such as jazz, tap, ballet) into training to become a ballroom dance instructor.
Are there any trends that you absolutely love or would love to see brides leave behind?
Dancing is not just for the bride and groom anymore! Every day, we get more and more calls for father-daughter, mother-son, and even whole bridal parties to learn some moves! It’s actually a very fun thing to do with your bridal party! Whether you want a routine choreographed for the whole gang or just for them to learn a few moves so the reception dance floor isn’t empty! Imagine taking a dance class with all your closest friends and family- how much fun!
What tips or advice can you give to couples who are in the midst of planning their big day?
Don’t wait until the last minute to think about your dances (first dance, father-daughter, mother-son, reception dancing, etc.). Learning how to dance can be a really fun part of planning a wedding but if you cut it too close to the big day, it’s stressful and overwhelming! Pick your song early on and get started so you can really enjoy dancing in your significant other’s arms and learning a skill that can be useful for so much more than a wedding. Let it become a fun date night in the midst of all the other hectic things on your list of things to do.
Thanks, Sandra! For more information about Fred Astaire Dance Studio, please visit their WeddingLovely Vendor Guide profile.
Do you have any questions or comments for Sandra? Add them to the comments below!