Professional Wedding Dance Tips from Strictly Come Dancing's Kristina Rihanoff!

Written by Kristina Rihanoff

Kristina Rihanoff is a world professional ballroom dancer, dance instructor and dance choreographer.

We are thrilled to have had the opportunity to interview professional dancer and choreographer and Strictly Come Dancing veteran Kristina Rihanoff! With her recent launch of Bespoke Ballroom, a luxurious high end dance platform offering performances and classes, there’s no better time to read up on her pro dancing tips in time for your wedding. Kristina Rihanoff portrait

Please can you tell us more about Bespoke Ballroom? What made you decide to start it?

I always loved teaching !! I had my 1st teaching job when i was only 16! It makes me really happy to see people improve on  the dance floor regardless of level they dance at. I truly believe dancing is for everyone and all ages. With BB services I want to bring the magic of Strictly come dancing to anyone who loves dancing and wants to learn !

Through the Bespoke Ballroom concept, I aim to make the sport accessible to a wide spectrum of audiences and offer an exclusive dance experience that includes VIP private tuition, seminars and private events.

The Bespoke packages can be tailor-made to meet your every need and form the perfect accompaniment to a variety of events all over the world. I even offer wedding entertainment and dance shows, as well as first wedding dance lessons that can be completed in the privacy of your own home.

Have you always wanted to work in weddings?

I love being a part of something so special. Weddings are pure joy to be involved in and I love performing at such wonderful occasions. I also love teaching the first  – every wedding dance I taught is very unique. It’s so lovely to see couples learning to dance and have this wonderful experience together.

What is your favourite thing about weddings and working/performing at weddings?

My favourite thing is to see the happiness of everyone involved. Wedding is a wonderful occasion with all generations of families coming together to celebrate love.

Which is your favourite style of dance for a wedding and why?

Most of the times I’m asked to perform the waltz or foxtrot. I think it suits the wedding so well because these dances are very graceful and timeless. Ballroom dances with lifts and lots of romantic movement are always a couple and crowd pleaser! Kristina ballroom dancing

What goes into your consideration when creating a bespoke choreography for a client’s wedding?

First of all the dance must be easy enough to learn as I don’t want the couples to be stressed about the wedding dance. They have enough to worry about before the wedding !!

I always make my choreography easily adoptable to any ability of the clients. Clients send me their music ahead of my lessons so I can prepare the dance and I also ask about the space where they will be dancing  so I can think of the suitable steps.

Could you walk us through your typical process with a couple you are helping with their first dance choreography?

I prepare the choreography which goes well with the music but once I start teaching it I usually change a few steps to make it easy and comfortable. I  don’t believe in trying for hours something very hard. If the step doesn’t work for a while it’s best to change it to something else.

I had the same attitude on Strictly come dancing with my celebs. You have to be cleaver and find the right steps for your clients so they feel confident when performing.

How do the bride and groom roles vary in the wedding dance?

The man always leads and lady follows. That is the main rule of the ballroom. But if the lady more experienced in dancing she can help with leading some of the steps. Most of all the bride and groom must remember that there  is no judges or right and wrong steps! They just have to enjoy their special dance and smile!! Kristina dancing with her partner

What type of couples do you usually see coming to you to train for a first dance? What would you say to a couple who think they’d love to do a dance but don’t believe they can/ doubt their ability to?

I have all sorts of couples coming to me for wedding dance or just for dance lessons. I really enjoy helping the students to learn dances and improve their skills. Dancing is for everyone , all ages and shapes! It’s a wonderful way for men and ladies to do something together!

Which is your absolute favourite dance you have performed and what was it like?

I think it was the rumba I performed with Beyoncé on my first year on Strictly. It was very overwhelming to perform with such superstar. Beyoncé was so gracious and in the end of the dance she said she really loved our performance ! I will never forget it!

Do you have any top tips for couples on their first dance?

You just have to enjoy it and don’t be afraid to make a mistake! Nobody knows your dance so just go for it! An make sure to wear whatever is most comfortable – though definitely practice in the shoes you’ll be wearing on the day. Kristina smiling during her dance

The best moves for getting fit for your wedding – different moves for different parts of your body?

Just taking dancing lessons themselves can help a bride get fit. I often hear remarks from clients about how much fitter and slimmer they feel from the lessons. Any type of dancing really helps to tighten the mid drift naturally.

Latin cha cha cha, and salsa, and waltz are both high energy and burn lots of calories because of how much movement is involved. On top of that, dancing is a very fun way to get fit as it doesn’t feel like a workout like going to the gym does.

Most impressive move someone could pull off?

A lift! All dance choreography that I put together has a lift as it’s such a couple and crowd favourite. It always brings the house down, and is so sweet and special for the day. And beginners shouldn’t be scared by lifts either. With my experience on Strictly Come Dancing, I know exactly how to teach beginners. Kristina doing a dance lift

Finally – what would your dream wedding look like?

I think my dream wedding would be when all of my loved once are around me. I miss my family and friends in Russia so much. As long as they are with me on that special day I will be more then happy and complete!

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