I was tickled to hear Nigel Lythgoe talk a little about choreographing tap on a recent episode of So You Think You Can Dance. The commentary is at about 1:13, but please start at about 1:10 so you can see the performance that he’s referring to. It’s a tap piece that Emma, one of the young competitors, choreographed to “Rather Be” by the Pentatonix. Just amazing – pause for a moment of silent appreciation for some real talent.
Nigel asked if she choreographed by listening to the rhythm or by counting eights. Quickly followed by the statement – “Musicians only count to four, dancers count to eight.” Funny!
Besides making for a pithy quote, it ties right into a project that I’ve been working on recently. I am experimenting with a phone application that I hope will be useful to choreographers and one of the things that I’ve been thinking about is phrasing of music. It’s a variation on the web-app that I have on the site for counting out tempos. When choreographing for many ballroom dances, the basic unit of measure tends to be a two-measure mini-phrase, which would be 8 counts in most dances and 6 for the waltz. And then there are longer phrases, which are closer to what musicians think in. Here’s a quick mock-up of the phrasing page for the app – the idea is that you can count out (or just enter) the tempo of the song, choose a standard length and get a quick cheat-sheet of the number of phrases of various types that one would need to choreograph to fill the song.
Would this be useful to you as a choreographer? Are there other features that might make as much or more sense to have your phone figure out for you? I’m always looking for feedback, and the early the better since most of this isn’t even coded yet.
I learned to dance in part because Dirty Dancing made me want to be Johnny Castle. Or at least dance like him. And my first dance partner was similarly moved by Strictly Ballroom. These days So You Think You Can Dance and Dancing With the Stars are both inspiration for aspiring dancers.
Since one of my goals with the music4dance project is to build a catalog of music that inspires you to dance, it seems appropriate to make sure I’m folding in the songs that the choreographers from these shows have found inspiring. I’ve started by adding in the songs from (season 20) of Dancing with the Stars since that is currently airing.
All of the Dancing with the Stars songs that I’ve cataloged can be found at this link. You can refine your search to a particular episode by clicking on the episode number and choosing to include that episode.
One fun side effect of this is that you can click play on the Spotify Player at the bottom of the page and play all of the songs from an episode (or you can follow the individual links to iTunes or Amazon to purchase the songs). Here’s an example of the spotify player for DWTS Season 20, Episode 1:
What other movies and shows have inspired you to dance? Did they include specific songs that really make you want to get up and move?
Before you go, I’m continuing to gather data on how people group dance styles and would appreciate your input. More information about that is available in this post. Or just go directly to the survey.
Okay, so that’s a slight rephrasing of the question from my previous post. But it sticks to the spirit of the idea. As a dancer learning a specific new dance, be it Cha Cha, Paso Doble or Waltz, where can I find music?
So how do I do that? Dance generally co-evolves with music, so to get a very traditional song for any dance, it’s usually easy to find a source. If you like swing dancing, Benny Goodman is a great source or if you like to waltz Strauss is always available. However, if you’re trying to learn a number of dances at about the same time or if you’ve got taste in music that is more modern than the traditional music that the dance evolved with, this starts to get confusing.
It’s also often the case that some of the most interesting choreography to traditional ballroom dances is performed to music that is entirely different than the style that it evolved with. A recent example of this is Jean Marc Genereux’s Paso Doble on So You Think You Can Dance Season 11, choreographed to Rob Zombie’s Dragula.
In any case, there are of course as many ways to answer the question at hand as there are dancers. From my perspective, one way to go about finding dances to Cha Cha to is to it to go ask the internets.
Well, I’ve done internet searches on various dance styles a number of times over the years. I’ve combined the results along with some songs from my personal catalog. I’ve done a bunch of merging, cleaning up and matching to four of the major music service (Goove®, Amazon® , iTunes® and Spotify®) and the result is the dances page on the site.
What do you think? Would you use the music4dance dances page now? What features would you need to make this something you would use? What would make this into a site that you couldn’t live without?