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Dance Competition Music Dos and Don’ts

A dancer in competition. Photo courtesy of Celebrity Dance Competitions

The path to a winning competition routine often begins with an important element: music. The choice of music can, honestly, according to many judges in the industry, make or break a routine. So what should you look for in a piece of music? Here, Dance Informa speaks with a director and a judge from top competitions and unveils some of their tips for tunes. Use this guide, together with your teacher or choreographer, to find your next piece of music.

#1. Be sure your music is age-appropriate.

Perhaps the most important quality for your music is that it be age-appropriate. Your music will not only be heard by you and your teacher/choreographer/coach but also by the judges, fellow competitors, parents and even younger audience members. Be sure to choose something that is family-friendly.

“With pop music, it is important to remember that we not only have to listen for profanity but for content,” suggests Andrew Phillip, director of Celebrity Dance Competitions. “While the overall theme of the song might match the concept of the dance, we should be careful not to sacrifice age appropriateness for content. Innuendos flood today’s music. Oftentimes, we get carried away by infectious beats and catchy melodies, but we fail to listen to the lyrics.”

Photo courtesy of World-Class Talent Experience, Inc

Photo courtesy of World-Class Talent Experience, Inc.

#2. Choose something you like!

As you rehearse your competition routine, you’ll probably be hearing your music over and over…and over again. Choose a song that you like.

“I like to have a genuine connection to the music,” shares Lindsey Leduc, a judge for World-Class Talent Experience, Inc. “The creative process is more enjoyable when there is a flow opposed to a force. It’s also imperative that the dancers share that connection.”

When a dancer feels connected to his/her music, the judges will likely be able to read that as well. You’ll definitely want to choose music that works for you as a dancer and performer.

#3. Widen your search.

There are millions of song choices out there. Go beyond what you just hear on the top-40 radio stations. These days, your search can be broadened with the help of satellite radio with categorized channels, the Internet and music streaming services. Phillip recommends, for example, Spotify, Apple Music and SoundCloud.

“Some streaming sites have radio stations based on mood, which can lead to an array of choices that you would normally not find and can lead to some unexpected discoveries,” he adds. “SoundCloud also supports an array of underground artists, which can help curve the overuse of the same songs in the competition setting.”

Also consider using old Broadway showtunes, classical music, instrumental versions or songs by cover artists. Your uniqueness in song choice can already set you apart in competition.

Lindsey Leduc, a judge for World-Class Talent Experience, Inc. Photo by Gorman Cook

Lindsey Leduc, a judge for World-Class Talent Experience, Inc. Photo by Gorman Cook.

#4. Surprise the judges.

Phillip encourages, “Take risks with your music choices! You never know when you might be the next trendsetter! We want our routines to stand out and have the audience say, ‘Wow, that was good’, instead of, ‘Oh, another dance to that song’.”

#5. It’s all about the total package.

Music is, of course, just one ingredient of your routine. Work hard to ensure that all elements – song choice, choreography, costume, style – unite in a complete performance experience.

“For a judge, what you’re going to hear is always a surprise,” Leduc says. “Bold, unique or familiar sound is a great attention getter, but it always comes down to the total package. How it’s relayed. The costume, the choreography, the embodiment and commitment of the performers. You never know what will take you away!”

By Laura Di Orio of Dance Informa.

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