Tag Archives: competition

Find the EXACT best tempo for your routine

tempo slomo screen568x568I’m sure you’ve noticed that there are some songs where your dancers are constantly being held back by the tempo of the song. When this happens it’s almost like there is an invisible force subtly sapping the energy out of the routine. Conversely, there are other songs where the dancers are always rushing to keep up with the beat. Adjusting the groove of the song, by even as little as 1% slower OR faster, can make a huge impact on how well your dancers perform with the music. Use the Tempo SlowMo app to dial in EXACTLY what the tempo should be for every routine you choreograph. Spin the jog wheel WHILE your dancers are performing to find the exact tempo that FEELS just right!

Tempo SlowMo is just one app that allows you to change the tempo of songs you are playing. Another one is BarreNotes.

Don’t forget to “print” a new copy of each song that you are using at the new tempo that you’ve dialed in.

Emergency by Icona Pop — Clean lyrics version

After the smashing appearance in the opening number to the recent Dancing With the Stars episode, Emergency by Icona Pop has been flying up the charts. Unfortunately, for dance teachers and choreographers, the only version currently available on iTunes is Explicit.

Squirrel Trench Audio now has a great-sounding version with clean lyrics, suitable for all ages and situations, including dance studios, competitions, recitals, and talent shows. The full-length version is $4.99.

Also available is a 2:15 length version:

We have also created a Spicy Clean remix with a 2:32 length:

For more great songs that have been cleaned of objectionable lyrics, Squirrel Trench Audio has a collection of full length clean songs here:

And in fact, Squirrel Trench Audio’s entire catalog on Legitmix is clean, so any remix or edited song you find there, that is created by Squirrel Trench Audio, is clean. Search the Squirrel Trench catalog on Legitmix here.

Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!

Let It Snow Brian SetzerNormally, when you come across a short song when searching for music for your routines, you breathe a sigh of relief. You think to yourself, “Thank goodness, I don’t have to cut this one!” However, occasionally the song is TOO short. Into the void steps this extended (2:23), rockin’ fun version of Let It Snow! by the Brian Setzer Orchestra, perfect for a group tap routine. This song is simply begging to be used in a tap routine, and is great for any age dancers.

Get more Squirrel Trench remixes at Legitmix

Honey, I’m Good – clean version

Honey, I’m Good by Andy Grammer has been lighting up the charts over the past couple of months, but it includes some inappropriate language. Squirrel Trench Audio is pleased to provide a clean, full-length version of this hit song.

Get more Squirrel Trench remixes at Legitmix

Congratulations to Ausia Jones!

Ausia Jones is an incredible 17-year-old dancer, and our congratulations go out to her, and her choreographer Ebony Williams, for her winning routine, Reflection. Reflection won the First Overall Senior Contemporary at the Dallas regional competition of Youth America Grand Prix (YAGP). Ausia was accompanied by music edited by Squirrel Trench Audio, from a piece titled Rostro by the artist Murcof.

Congrats again Ausia! Enjoy her amazing performance:

The economics of a competitive group dance routine

1902765_10152284887868103_160835853_n.jpgIt’s pretty amazing how much time, sweat, rehearsal, effort, and money goes into putting a competitive group dance routine on stage. I think it’s terrific and amazing that so many dance parents are able to give their kids the experience, discipline, camaraderie, and excitement of performing an intricate routine, complete with music, choreography, and costumes. While the kids on stage and the choreographers are the ones who get the medals and awards, really it should be the parents getting the awards for making it happen!

One thing I am always surprised about is how often these amazing routines go on stage, and are performed at competitions, with less-than-perfect music. Often times the music for these routines have jarring clicks, jumps, awkward timings, and mis-matched phrasing. While competitive dance is not judged on the quality of the soundtrack, bad music edits can make counting and choreography more difficult for the dancers since musical phrases can wind up with nonsensical timings like 9.7 beats instead of 8!

It surprises me that so much music with significant issues winds up on the competitive stage when you consider how much time, energy, and money goes into each dance. After all, the music is the foundation of the dance, and great music serves as the inspiration both for the dance teacher/choreographer as well as the dancers themselves. There are some studios, such as Mather Dance Company in the L.A. area, that go so far as to have original music commissioned for them by professional recording artists. While understandably, that kind of budget is out of reach for many studios, working with a skilled music editor is quite reasonable, especially when you think about the finances that go into each competitive routine that is put on stage. After all, we wouldn’t dream of putting a dancer on stage with a wrecked costume, so why would be put them on stage with wrecked music?

So let’s take a quick look at the cost to put one competitive dance on the stage. Oftentimes a unique music remix can be created for $199 or less, so I will wrap up our analysis by looking at that music cost as a percentage of the total cost of putting a routine on stage.

To make this calculation, I’m going to use conservative estimates. For many studios, the costs might be much less, while at others, they might be far more. For this example, let’s use a group routine with 15 dancers. If each of those company dancers is paying an average of $180 per month in studio tuition, and is in a total of 8 competitive routines, then their combined total studio fee, on a per routine basis is: 15 kids x $180 x 10 months / 8 total routines = $3,375 combined cost per dance. No matter if a guest choreographer is brought in, or the studio’s own teacher creates the choreography, that takes considerable effort, so we’ll budget $500 for the choreography. Next, costumes can easily run $125 per, for competitive routines, so that is another $125 x 15 = $1,875. But we haven’t even gotten to entry fees, let alone hotel and food costs that dance parents incur. If a competitive routine is entered into three regionals and one nationals, the entry fees can easily be $40 per regional and $50 per national. That is 15 x ((40 x 3) + 50) = $2,550. We are up to $8,300 for the combined routine cost, and we haven’t figured hotel or travel expenses yet.

Let’s assume that one of the regionals is near enough to the studio to not require a hotel, and let’s use a conservative estimate that the other two regionals will require one hotel night, and that the nationals will require four hotel nights. That’s a total of six hotel nights, so our calculation is 15 families x 6 nights x $110 / 8 routines = $1237. Let’s just round up to $1300 when you figure in food on the road. We’re also going to assume that families don’t have to purchase air fare to get to Nationals.

So our total cost, to put one group competitive routine on stage in all competitions is $3375 studio time + $500 choreography + $1875 costumes + $2550 entry fees + $1300 hotel costs = $9,600. Now imagine spending even as much as $200 for a spectacular custom music remix. That $200 represents 2% of the total cost in putting the routine on stage. Some would say that that is money well worth it. But I might be slightly biased as a music professional. Even if it’s not worthwhile to spend $200 on the music for a competitive group routine, it’s still very much worthwhile to spend $40 on having smooth and seamless music edits handled by a professional.

Congratulations to Joleen’s Starz of the South (again)

Joleen's Starz Pirate Life

A Pirate’s Life performers with their Group of the Day trophy

Winning is getting to be a habit for Joleen’s Starz of the South dance studio. Congratulations go to their small group routine, A Pirate’s Life. A Pirate’s Life features a soundtrack created by Squirrel Trench Audio, and was not only the winner of the 12 & over Small Group category, but also achieved the high score/Group of the Day in the 12 & over category at the 2015 NYLA Dance Competition Biloxi Regional. Way to go, ladies! That is an impressive VICTORY!

In addition, the Starz of the South routine Land of the Free was the winning 11 & under team/production routine for the same NYLA regional competition. Land of the Free also features a Squirrel Trench Audio-created soundtrack.

Joleen's Starz of the South - Land of the Free performers with their top production award

Land of the Free performers with their top production award

We look forward to seeing videos from these terrific routines as well as other Starz of the South routines for which we’ve done the music editing and remixing! Thanks as always to Joleen for choosing Squirrel Trench Audio to create so much of the music used for Starz of the South competition routines! We can’t wait to make more for you next season!

Maleficent has her Vengeance

In December of last year, I received a request to create an original music soundtrack for a Maleficent pointe routine; combining several elements of the Maleficent motion picture soundtrack. The pointe routine was entirely the creation of Brennan Kolbo who choreographed the concept from scratch, and she performed it last weekend at Rainbow Dance Competition in Omaha, Nebraska.

Enjoy this unique interpretation of Maleficent, featuring costuming from JEM Creations, and soundtrack by Squirrel Trench Audio. Congratulations to choreographer and performer, Brennan Kolbo, for creating this unique and wonderful Maleficent interpretation!

Don’t let your music hold back your competition score

dancer-with-music-flowers.jpgIt’s that time of year…. when hours upon hours of dance rehearsal are getting ready to be brought to the big stages of competitions. Dance parents have poured hundreds upon hundreds of dollars into lessons, dance teachers have poured their heart and soul into creative choreography, costumes have been chosen and tried on, competition fees have been paid, and hotel rooms booked.

Dance teachers are doing their best to insure every aspect of the dance is as clean as a whistle. Entrances and exits are tight. Costumes, hair, and makeup is perfect and ready to go.

There’s just one thing left, that some choreographers forget to clean, and that is their music. There are several things you want to check, to make sure your music is as clean and perfect as it can be for competition.

Transitions: Make sure that every transition is precise and smooth. Hiccups, jumps, pops, or other glitches take the audience and judges out of the moment, distracting them from the beauty of the dance. In addition, bad edits can make it more difficult for the dancers to stay on tempo. Precise transitions, on the beat, are made far easier when you align the music to a tempo grid. Click here for more information on Finding the Tempo.

Lyrics: CHECK YOUR LYRICS. Judges will MAKE DEDUCTIONS for inappropriate language used in your music. There is no need for these deductions! Why risk the thousands of dollars that have been invested in your dance with an unnecessarily lowered score? You wouldn’t put your dancers on stage with tattered costumes, so why would you put them on stage with lyrics that have the potential to offend a judge?

Volume: Make sure you have not accidentally lowered the volume of your music in the editing process. Older songs can often have the volume raised without distortion in a process called mastering.

Clarity: Make sure you are not using a song imported from YouTube (more explanation on why). The quality often suffers and that loss of clarity will be amplified in a theater or convention hall.

If any of your songs needs cleaning, Squirrel Trench Audio is at your service. We have cleaned songs for lyrics, transitions, volume and clarity many times, and have literally helped dance studios increase their scores because of it. Use this request form to get your music cleaned! Squirrel Trench Audio also has clean versions of many songs ready to choreograph. For instance, here are clean versions of:

DON’T LET YOUR MUSIC HOLD YOU BACK FROM THE BEST SCORE YOUR DANCERS CAN ACHIEVE. 

How to score better at dance competitions

Cathy Roe dance awards 2010_1Have you ever wondered what it takes to do better at a dance competition? Well wonder no more because Cathy Roe, the founder of Cathy Roe Ultimate Dance competitions has spelled it out for you. Here is the link to her recent Facebook post on this topic, How to Stand Out at Competition. Here are the most important things as Cathy has listed them:

  1. Technique
  2. Rehearsal
  3. Stage Presence
  4. Originality (including unique music!)
  5. Dance within your abilities
  6. Be classy and age appropriate
  7. Show Good Will
  8. Innovative choreography (including using music that connects with you!)

Out of the eight most important things to score well and stand out at a dance competition, TWO of the items include the musical aspect. Reprinted here is the full text of Ms. Roe’s comments on these two aspects, musical aspects emphasized in bold:

4. Our motto “Dare to Be Different” means BE UNIQUE, BE ORIGINAL! I used to tell my students that if we heard a song at a competition, that was a guarantee that we would NEVER dance to that song. There is no dearth of exquisite, exciting, original, emotional, clever, mesmerizing music. If you haven’t checked out Spotify, it’s fantastic for finding music! And as for dance themes…. we see a lot of “love gone wrong” themes, especially from our soloist. The soloist that stands out has a unique and interesting message or song that makes the judges sit up and pay attention because they haven’t seen/heard it before.

8. Bring innovate choreography. How? Be yourself. Think about your life, what you love, your experiences. Listen to music until you find that song that hits you right between the eyes and you say YES! I GET THAT! I FEEL LIKE THAT! Tell a story that matters to you. Forget about imitating anyone and especially because you think what they do what “wins”. Be in it to love it; to be an artist; to be a leader. Be an original thinker, a path finder! My judges are people (that it took me years to find) that will appreciate you for it. But just remember, with all the innovation in the world, we can’t see your vision without technical dancers that can execute it. So I must go back to #1 because it is the technique of your dancers that will display your vision like fine paint on and expensive canvas.

Squirrel Trench Audio is in the business of delivering UNIQUE, original music and remixes to competitive dancers. There are two different ways we can help you in this regard. If you have a music idea, or songs you’d like remixed together, you can use this Request Form to get a price quote from us. In addition, we have a library of unique music remixes for you to choose from on Legitmix. Just take a listen, and if you find one that connects with you, you can purchase it immediately, no waiting! Here’s our catalog of unique remixes:

Get more remixes at Legitmix