Moms and Dads Dance Lessons

September 28th, 2017 by admin

Yes, it’s your wedding but what about your Moms and Dads?

Everyone knows about the Father Daughter dance and Mom Son dance but what about later on at the reception when Moms and Dads of the bride and groom will be dancing with their partners?

It makes sense and it’s just plain fun, too, to let them have a lesson right along with the traditional Father Daughter and Mom Son dance lessons so they can brush up on lead and follow, turns and movement around the floor.

Reception dancing is very different from the dancing that couples do all alone on the dance floor like Bride and Groom First Dance, Father Daughter Dance and Mom Son Dance.

When dancing during the reception, Moms and Dads need to take into account lots of different levels of dancers, floor size and number of couples, singles or even kids on the dance floor.

That promenade with spins that works great taking up half the dance floor during the Father Daughter dance might be difficult to do on a crowded dance floor.

Keeping steps small and watching out for your partner are just a few good tips to keep in mind making your way around a wedding reception dance floor.

Let your Mom and Dad come in for a lesson and have fun with each other to some of the songs you know you’ll be playing at your reception.

It’ll be fun to see them out there having a good time as you Get Your Party Going!

Happy Fall,


The dance and beyond

August 22nd, 2017 by admin

Great new testimonial just found on FaceBook!

I can’t tell you how excited I get when I happen to come across a testimonial that I didn’t even know existed.

It happened just the other week…

I was crawling the web and there it was on the Avant Garde Ballroom FaceBook.

I’ve been at Avant Garde Ballroom since 1998 when I was referred there by one of my actor friends. The new studio, where it’s been for about two years now by The District, is spacious and the floating dance floors are divine for my knees!

Here’s what I found,

“Jillian is wonderfully patient and helps beyond (the dance).”

– Ron S.

I remember Ron and his quest to learn the Viennese Waltz in time for, you guessed it!, a Viennese Waltz Ball held in Vienna.

We had an outstanding time learning the basics of the waltz and we learned some “beyond”.

What does that mean?

I knew Ron would need to know a number of things in addition to the dance since he was going to be out on the floor with a lot of people, needing to dress appropriately, and learn the basics of entering and exiting to and from the floor.

Ron even brought in his fabulous date for the ball who was already a professional dancer and he rehearsed with her, too.

Here’s a YouTube link to some great shots of the beautiful venue and images from their ball.


The “beyond” of your dance can be just as important as the dance itself, IMO.

How you conduct yourself in your elegant attire, meet and greet, enter and exit the dance floor and dance on a busy dance floor later are all great skills to know.

I like to cover these skills as well as my usual ones like: posture, lead and follow, frame, turns, stationary and moving dance steps, choreography and musicality.

It’s fun to know how to “carry off” your look completely from start to finish at your wedding or special event.

You can email me at and let me know your date and particulars like song, dance type and dancers.

I would love to help you with your wedding dance or dances or special event.

Happy end of Summer and good luck with all the planning,

Jillian :)

My piggies, Zelda & Daisy

My piggies, Zelda & Daisy

Muscle Memory & Your Wedding Dance

July 13th, 2017 by admin

Muscle Memory!

What is it?

Wikipedia explains muscle memory as, “a form of procedural memory involving consolidating a specific motor task in memory through repetition.

When a movement is repeated over time, a long-term muscle memory is created for that task, eventually allowing it to be performed without conscious effort.

This process decreases the need for attention and creates maximum efficiency within the motor and memory systems.

Examples of muscle memory are found in everyday activities that become automatic and improve with practice like riding a bicycle, typing on a keyboard, playing a musical instrument or even dancing.”

Great news!

But how can it help with the wedding dance?

The bottom line is this: by coming in a month or so before your wedding day, taking some lessons and then practicing what you learned for short five to ten minute periods between lessons and a few days right before THE big day, you can get your dance in your muscle memory.

Why is this important?

Peace of mind and less “deer in the headlights” are two very good reasons.

We’ve all seen that adorable couple dancing their wedding dance looking uncomfortable on the dance floor.

Many of my couples mention this familiar scene when they first come in for dance lessons.

It seems most couples don’t want to give the impression they took dance lessons yet they do want to go out there and dance looking relaxed and smiling!

Wedding Dance Wonder Cookies!

Sorry, not yet 😉

I wish I could give everyone an Alice in Wonderland cookie to eat that automatically got their dance in them, but muscle memory is the next best thing.

During your lessons we work on technique for lead and follow, movement around the floor, turns and pretty picture poses and a beginning and dip for the end.

I like to use my couple’s phones to video what we did at the end of each lesson so they can have something to look at when practicing.

Eventually, they have their whole dance available so they can see the moves and how they work with their song.

Next step!

Ball’s in your court :))

Just spending a few minutes practicing every couple of days between lessons and of course a few days before the wedding will help get the dancing in your muscle memory.

Don’t be afraid to practice by yourself, too.  A lot of my couples aren’t around each other as often as they might like, so take that chance to get yourself ready and review your moves and technique from the video.

Some of my couples even sneak in a practice on their actual reception floor when they are there in advance of their wedding day for other purposes.

Every little bit helps and makes you more and more familiar with the dance and less nervous to actually do it in front of other people!

Ready to do this!

Contact me with your available dates and song choices

Let me know what song or songs you’re considering and your schedule and we can start to get the dancing in your muscle memory.

You can reach me by phone or text at 619.871.0241 or email me at

Visit my Pricing Page to reserve the lessons that are best for your busy schedule now.

Happy Wedding Planning!!

Hugs, Jillian

Daisy and Zelda in holiday hats!

Daisy and Zelda in their 4th of July holiday hats!

Wedding Dance Parts

June 6th, 2017 by admin

What’s in a wedding dance?

A Beginning

Will you be walking onto the floor to start or will you have just been announced and already be in the middle of the floor?

Depending on the answer to this question, you’ll want to learn how to walk onto the floor and do a step to start or you’ll need an attention grabbing “first move” to let your guests know you’re starting your dance.

Go To Stationary Step

Whether you’re doing the box step, a sway or a series of turns it’s a great idea to have a step that’s relatively easy to fall back on at any time.

A lot of my couples are opting to learn how to dance with each other rather than memorizing a choreographed wedding dance routine and this helps create some shorthand.

Get Across The Floor Move

Your floor may be large or small but it is fun to move on it and not just do the whole dance in one spot.

Often my couples with a large floor can cover some serious distance with some simple walks and turns.

If the floor is small there are some nice rumba moves that can be adapted to still move you but keep your dancing contained.

Didn’t Know They Could Do That  Figure

This is the one where it looks like it’s harder than it is. 😉

I can show you some beginner eye-catching figures, that with a little practice make the middle of your dance memorable.


Most everyone opts for a dip for their ending, but how you get into that dip is up for interpretation.

The end of a wedding dance is often about romance and of course the bride and groom kiss – so making the ending work well for everyone is a big part of our lessons.

Let me know if you have any ideas for your dance too, since working together as a team makes the dance even better.

You’ll want to wear flats and bring access to your song on your phone, plenty of water with Summer coming and of course – your dance partner!

Happy Wedding Planning,

Jillian <3

Let's Wedding Dance!

Let’s Wedding Dance!

Dance With Your Dad!

May 9th, 2017 by admin

Father Daughter dances are super hot right now.

What could be more fun than to learn a dance to do with your Dad at your wedding reception – the first great guy in your life on such a great day of your life!

  • What type of dance works for a Father Daughter dance?
  • Will I be able to dance with my Dad in THE dress without him stepping on it?
  • What songs work for our different generations?
  • Will my Dad go nuts and start doing that chicken flap thing he likes so much?

These are just a few of the questions that I get on a regular basis about the Father Daughter Dance.

First off I just want to say I think it’s fantastic when I get a Father Daughter dance couple.  We have so much fun learning the ins and outs of lead and follow, exciting twirls and picture poses to the song.

Plus Dad gets a little “Me and My Girl” time with his lovely daughter during the preparation months when everything can be a bit hectic.

Mom often comes along to watch the lessons and record some of the precious moments and crazy laughter on her phone for posterity.

(I like to get Mom out at the end of the last lesson and let her cut-a-rug with Dad and test out his new found leading techniques!)

What type of dance?

Usually Dads tend to like foxtrots or swings or a combo of foxtrot frame and feet movement with swing arms and turns.

Most of the hundreds of Dads I’ve worked with prefer a “flight plan” rather than just winging it on the big day.

We usually put together a beginning, three to five figures including stationary and traveling steps, and an end – not too romantic – but fun with often a hug or cheek kiss.

Can it be done in the dress?


There’s a good chance Dad can stay off the dress as long as the dancing couple sticks to their lead and follow techniques, the steps they learn and their flight plan.

Of course, nothing is completely fool proof but let’s just say Dad has a better shot at it after taking a few dance lessons!

What song?

One choice would be a song that is a tried and true favorite.  That way everyone from 18 to 80 knows the tune and can identify with the feelings.

Another good choice: a song that Dad and Daughter shared as she grew up.  This Father Daughter dance song brings special meaning to the dance and the guests get a cool glimpse into their relationship.

Whatever song you choose I recommend a slowish song, not necessarily really slow, but definitely one that isn’t super fast so Dad doesn’t have to dance like a buzzing bumble bee.  A good beat also helps keep the dance on time!

Dad Moves

Dad may break into that certain “Dad Move” you know and sort of love but after a few lessons he will definitely have more options.

Equipped with a Father Daughter dance flight plan, Dad might just hold off on his Dad Move for celebrating later on the dance floor.

Often Dad Moves end up being incorporated into Father Daughter dances simply because none of the guests would believe Dad was actually dancing if his famous exits and mouse holes or chicken flapping didn’t make it into the choreography!

Whatever Father Daughter dance you decide on you can text or email me about your song choice and dance needs and we can brainstorm.

I’ve got private lesson specials that is perfect for Father Daughter dances.  All you need is your song, flat shoes and of course – your Dad!

Click here to reserve your lessons now!

Happy Wedding Planning ~

xxoo Jillian

Father Daughter Dance

Father Daughter Dance

Wedding Dance Types

April 10th, 2017 by admin

What type of dance works best for a wedding dance?

This is a good question and I get it a lot!

The answer can depend on a number of things:

1) Will you be wearing your wedding dress or a second dress for your wedding dance?

Many brides are opting to change out of their long formal gowns into short flirty dresses.  Some brides are changing their white A-line gowns for slinky long gowns in a vibrant color.  If you know you’ll be wearing something else to dance your wedding dance in please let me know.  This can make a big difference in choreography and even song choice!

  • Dances for short flirty reception dresses:
  • Swings, Rumbas, Foxtrots
  • Dances for slinky long reception dresses:
  • Argentine Tangos, Rumbas
  • Dances for A-line wedding gowns:
  • Foxtrots, Waltzes, Viennese Waltzes, Some Rumbas

2) How big is your floor?

If you’re getting married on a yacht that has a modest dance floor with a staircase coming through the center of it your dance choreography will be close and romantic.  If your reception will be in a large ballroom with over 150 guests you’ll most likely have a large floor to travel around on during your wedding dance.

  • Dances for small reception areas:
  • Rumbas, Swings, Some Argentine Tangos
  • Dances for large reception areas:
  • Foxtrots, Waltzes, Viennese Waltzes

3) What kind of people are you?

I’ve had couples that love to jump into the lime light at the least provocation and we made their dance a fun spectacle that their guests twittered about for days.  I’ve also had couples that thought of the wedding dance as 3-4 minutes of eternity alone on the dance floor and we made their dance something for just the two of them that their guests just “got to watch”.

Just about any type of dance can be tailored to reach out to the audience or keep it intimate and personal, depending on whether the couple stays in closed dance position looking into each other’s eyes the whole time or plays to their audience through open work, shadow positions or side by side choreography.

If one person is shyer than the other we can always highlight the more outgoing one and keep the other one cozy with less interaction with the audience and more with their spouse.

I’ve gathered these tricks of wedding dances over the years working with hundreds of couples, their relationships, wedding attire and venues but remember if you have your heart set on wearing that slinky red dress and dancing a Viennese Waltz in a small space – we’ll make it happen!

Happy Spring and warmer days!


Happy Spring!

Happy Spring!


Spring Into Dance

March 1st, 2017 by admin

March 1st! 

Time to think about that wedding dance if your wedding is in the Spring or Summer.

Do you have a song?

Your song is your special expression of your feelings for each other.

If you like two songs don’t be afraid to come in with them both and we can dance to each of them to see which you prefer.

Maybe you’ll even decide to use them both; a bit of one to start and finish with the other.

How big is your floor?

If your floor is under 10×10 you can keep your steps small, intimate and romantic, not traveling in the dance too much.

If your floor is over 14×14 or a long runway rectangle you can use traveling steps for maximum dancing appeal, pausing at the corners to do twirls and figures.

How do you think your dress will dance?

A bustled dress is easier to dance in than one that you have to loop the train over your arm to dance.  I’ve choreographed dances with the looped material and it definitely can happen but we do have to be careful with underarm turns not to get dress in the face!

Poofy dresses look beautiful in all kinds of turns.  Mermaid dresses look sexy undulating in romantic rhythms. Strapless dresses need to be secured for dancing especially if you’re planning an invigorating song mash-up or swing dance.

Dancing shoes vs wedding shoes

A lot of my brides are opting for two pair of shoes.  One to look absolutely stunning in for the ceremony and pictures, the other to dance and have fun in at the reception.

If you wear high heels all the time you prolly won’t worry too much about your heels on the big day.  But if you’re a tennis shoe or flats gal you might want to wear more comfortable shoes during your reception.

Just keep in mind that your dress will be bustled to a certain shoe height so if your two pair of shoes are dramatically different you’ll want to make arrangements with your alterations team.

Get Started!

Please contact me if you have any more questions or just want to brainstorm ideas about your wedding dance.

Happy Wedding Planning!

Hugs, Jillian

WYBMV Gift Idea

February 2nd, 2017 by admin

Valentine’s Day – 12 days and counting…

If you would like to pop something special into that fun and romantic card you’ve got burning a hole in the top drawer of your desk think about a gift certificate for some dance lessons.

Wedding coming up soon?  NP!  A gift certificate is the perfect choice for that busy, busy bride, groom or even mom, dad, maid of honor or best man.

Anyone can benefit from my two lesson special where we play your music, go over lead and follow, how to do twirls and movement across the floor and of course THAT incredible dance dip.

It’s fun to learn how to dance in sync with another person or even to just learn how to lead or how to follow so you can keep your toes from being stepped on and a smile on your face.

Sunday Afternoon Special: 2 lessons (55 minutes each) with me for $138/couple

I offer a two lesson special which is just enough time to get some great technique and steps.  Some of my students choose to do my two lesson special twice but I never push it.  I know everyone has a lot going on and I’m just happy when they take that big step to actually contact me and and come on in to learn to dance!

At the end of each lesson, I use your phone to video you dancing while I’m talking underneath it so you have something to practice with at home to remember all the little technique points and things we did in class.

Contact me today by email at or fill-out my on-line gift certificate form if you are interested in getting a Valentine’s Day gift certificate or just want to know more.

I can invoice you through PayPal and you can pay with your PP account or your own credit card and then email you a printable Valentine gift certificate ready for February 14th.

Happy almost Valentine’s Day!

Jillian :))

Valentine's Day Gift Certificates <3

Will You Be My Valentine?

2017 Dances!

January 11th, 2017 by admin

Getting married in 2017?

It’s a new year and it’s time for new beginnings and the dances to go with them!

Now is the perfect time to reserve your dance lessons for your wedding dance and to start thinking about your song and the type of dance you would like to do.

I’ve had all kinds of songs and all kinds of dances so whatever you think says “us” is a great place to start.

My couples have used oldies but goodies, popular tunes, indie ballads, Country western ditties, movie soundtracks and original music.  The only requirement I have is that you both like the song or songs you choose and want to dance to them!

Many of my couples have danced a foxtrot for their first dance which is always a crowd-pleaser with its beautiful frame, frolicsome tempo and easy-going steps and twirls.

Your song will give me ideas about your dance so if you’re wondering what type of dance it could be just text me your song!

Others have opted for a waltz, rumba, tango or swing, all of which can be equally fun to dance and watch.  Depending on your attire and the time you have to put into your dance,  anything is possible.

The size of floor you’re working with can also be a factor for your dance.

Is your dance floor smallish (on a yacht) or quite roomy (hotel ballroom)?  Is it long and skinny like a runway or will you be moving tables and chairs to create a big square?

It looks and feels good to use a large space and travel with the wedding dance steps. Conversely, it works well if the space is small to keep the wedding dance intimate and romantic.

Which brings us to the wedding dress which can be another factor in your dance! 

If you can’t move backwards due to a long train or drooping bustle, this is good to know.  I can match steps to the movement you’re able to do in your gown so that gorgeous dress stays gorgeous!

Let me know if you have any questions about your wedding dance.  I would love to talk with you about the details and get you dancing together right away.

I recommend two months or so lead time to get the dance into your muscle memory before The Big Day.  You can reserve your lessons by paying and filling out my reservation form on my Pricing page.

Happy 2017 wedding planning!





Holiday Gift Certificates

December 15th, 2016 by admin


These days I think a lot of us would rather order gifts on line than brave a crowded mall! Parking is crazy, the merchandise is picked over and everything seems just beyond budget.

Speaking from experience when I find something different and easy to give as a holiday gift I jump at the opportunity… like the idea of a gift certificate for dance instruction and choreography for the bride and groom, mom and dad or anyone in your life who just likes to dance.

Only a text or email away, this gift is one that does keep on giving and isn’t your average fashion item that someone may wear once or, heaven forbid, return for what we all know was less than original purchase price!


Email or text me at 949.400.7347 with your information about who gets the certificate, who it is from and what amount you’d like it for and I will correspond with you.

I can either invoice you through PayPal (you can pay with your own credit card through PayPal) or you can mail me a check for the amount.


Gift certificate lessons are available on Sunday afternoons all year long and the certificate can be redeemed for a full year after issue, longer if you let me know.

Lessons are just minutes from The District at the new Avant Garde Ballroom at 1502 East Warner Santa Ana, Ca 92705.


One busy groom called me Christmas Eve and I raced home, made his gift certificate and emailed it to him in time to be in his bride’s stocking by Christmas morning!

Contact me soon – I’d love to help you check off a few special someone’s on your gift list this year!

Holiday Hugs, Jillian

Text: 949.400.7347

One of my holiday couples dancing the tango!

One of my holiday couples dancing the tango!

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