Tag Archives: dance studio

Ultra clean Run the World (Girls)

Recently, a dance teacher contacted me in an emergency situation. She needed an ultra clean version of Run the World (Girls) for a fellow teacher’s routine. Her response to the result:

“Wow! Thank you so so much! I cannot express how grateful I am that I don’t have to tell 15 parents their girls aren’t performing tonight. I’ll certainly use your services in the future!”

—Brianna Hafen
America’s Kids in Motion

Prince tribute for dance studios

Purple-RainIt is with great sadness to learn that the amazing musician and talented artist, Prince, has passed away. For many of us, his music is an integral part of the soundtrack of our lives.

It has been my honor to edit and remix some of his amazing music for dance studios and dance teachers. If you are interested in using a Prince song for a dance routine, here is an edited version of one of his songs that has amazing funk, yet is not very well known. It’s popular with the kids these days to say “Werk it!” but more than 30 years ago, Prince was already singing “Let’s Work!”. Enjoy this edit!

Here is Let’s Go Crazy from the movie Purple Rain. This version has all objectionable lyrics omitted, has been remastered, and edited specifically to be optimized for a jazz or tap dance routine:

And for dance studios interested in a mix that pays homage to “The Purple One”, we are pleased to present this 3 minute mix that includes five of Prince’s more popular hits:

This 4:55 production mix starts with Let’s Go Crazy, and includes Let’s Work:

This 4:45 production mix is similar but starts with Purple Rain:

You can get ALL of these Prince edits and remixes for an amazing bargain price in this album:

Get more Squirrel Trench remixes at Legitmix

Tips for recording Voice-Overs for dance routines

voice memo app iconMore and more folks are interested in recording voice-overs of various kinds for their dance routines. Since Squirrel Trench Audio works with dance teachers and choreographers all over the world, we usually can’t come to you in order to do the recording. This means you are on your own to record your own dancers’ voices, but it’s not too hard to do that, and send us the resulting audio files.

The good news: if you have an iPhone, it’s easy to record the voice-overs that you want. Just use the (free) Voice Memo app that is built-in. Here are the tips in a nutshell, with further explanation below:

  • Record in a living room or bedroom; never in a dance studio
  • Minimize any environmental noise or sounds
  • Aim the bottom of the iPhone at your dancer(s), about 1.5 feet away
  • Record three takes of the words you want
  • Speak clearly, and with passion!

Record in a living room or bedroom; never in a dance studio

One of the most important aspects to getting a good recording is the room in which you record, because sound bounces off of walls, floor and ceiling. This is called reverberation, which is a form of echo. Pretty much the worst space to do a recording is inside a dance studio rehearsal room. Ideally, you want to be in a living room or bedroom when recording a voice-over. The more drapes or other fabric there is in the room, the better. Carpeting is also very helpful. Using the Voice Memo app on your iPhone, situate yourself with the iPhone, and the person(s) that you are recording, in the middle of the room, away from all the walls.

Minimize any external sound or noise

It should go without saying that you don’t want any background noise to be happening while you record your voice. Make sure no one else is talking nearby, and make sure that all sources of hum or buzz are eliminated, or as low as possible. Nearby fans, or anything else with a motor, should be turned off for the duration of the recording. Make sure the windows of the room are shut to minimize any sound coming in from the outside.

The iPhone’s mic is in the bottom of the phone; aim it at your dancer(s), about 1.5 feet away

Hold the iPhone approximately 1 to 2 feet from the person(s) speaking (1.5 feet is probably ideal). Aim the mic (which is in the bottom) at the person talking. It should be close to them, but not TOO close.

Record three takes of the words you want 

Record at LEAST three “takes” of the words that you want to have. That way, I will be able to choose from the best of the resulting versions. Sometimes a word might get cut off, or the speaker trips over a word. If you have them repeat their lines three times, then I can put together the best version of the words.

Speak clearly and with passion! 

While the voice talent may be reading from a paper, they should nevertheless speak their part with conviction! Speak each word clearly, and make sure that sentences are not run together. Most of all, speak the words with as much “character” and emotion that you can muster! If you are worried about being too “over the top”, that’s okay; that’s why you record several takes. Do the first take “normal”, then do take two with MORE emotion, and then in take three, let it all hang out! You can decide, after you record, which one is the best to use. In many cases, you may think you are being way over the top, but that might be exactly the right emotion to convey the message in a dynamic way.

Most of all; have a blast doing it, knowing that your words are going to be heard over a performance sound system.

Here’s a link to previews of a number of edited and prepared spoken word soundtracks for dance routines.

 

Uptown Funk (Clean version) – album now available

uptown funk jazz handsDue to the runaway popularity of our clean version of Mark Ronson/Bruno Mars’ Uptown Funk, we’ve created an album containing every length (six) of this song, that we’ve created to date. Our clean version of Uptown Funk is super-smooth – no awkward hiccups to interrupt the song’s funktastic groove! Most of our clean versions also include the exciting intro as performed on Saturday Night Live – an intro which is not heard on the iTunes release of the song.

This album contains six different lengths of the song, and is a terrific bargain at $11.99, a savings of 78% compared to buying each version of the song individually!

The six versions of the songs are: 4:28 (full length), 2:58, 2:45, 2:32, 2:15, and 1:59. One of the lengths is sure to be perfect for your jazz, tap, or hip hop competition or recital dance routine.

Grab your complete Bruno Mars Uptown Funk Clean Version album now! Or just purchase the length you need for your dance routine!

If you know what length you need, click these links below to get it. Each edited version is $9.99; or the full-length version is $4.99:
4:28 (full length)2:582:452:322:151:59

Get more Squirrel Trench remixes at Legitmix

Hot Hot Hot New Dance Music – Uptown Funk!

markronsonbrunomarsvideograb600Bruno Mars is the lead singer on Mark Ronson’s new, ultra-funky song, Uptown Funk. The groove is MASSIVE, and will get you up and dancing with its infectious beat. The only problem with this song, from a dance teacher’s point of view, is that it’s long (4:30), and there are lyrics inappropriate for dance students throughout. (As example, the background singers sing “hot damn” through the verses.) There are some other inappropriate lyrics sprinkled throughout as well.

Good news for dance teachers, Squirrel Trench Audio has been hard at work, editing the song into FOUR different lengths to get you exactly the right length for your students! The four timings are 2:45, 2:32, 2:16, and 1:59. And in all four versions, the lyrics have been CLEANED, so that there is no objectionable content in it.

This song is SO hot, it should come with a warning label:
Warning: Uptown Funk is so hot that multiple playbacks on your stereo system could cause dancers to lose control and overheat.

What are you waiting for? Click on one of the players below to get your clean copy of Uptown Funk to use in your next dance routine!

Get more Squirrel Trench remixes at Legitmix

Michael Jackson/Dangerous & Janet Jackson/Rhythm Nation remixes

The King of Pop, Michael Jackson, crushed it at the MTV Music Awards. Here is a remix based on that performance, along with some original twists. Edited for a 2:45 length dance routine.

Janet Jackson is one of the top female music performers of all time. Here is an original remix of the classic Rhythm Nation from the album 1814.

Get more Squirrel Trench remixes at Legitmix

True dedication: The dancers of Bethel, Alaska

Bethel Alaska aerial viewIn the online world, vast distances can be spanned with a single email. Thanks to the internet, working from Western Massachusetts, I have edited and remixed songs for dancers, not only all over the United States, but also in Australia and Canada.

So it wasn’t too big of a surprise when I got a music remix request from a repeat client who lives in Bethel, Alaska last week. When Delilah Hodge contacted me last year, I noted that she was in Alaska, but didn’t really think much further about it. But when she emailed me for a couple of new songs to be edited and remixed, I was a little bit more curious since my brother and his wife live in Fairbanks, Alaska. Not being completely familiar with the state, I searched on Google Maps to find out how far of a drive it is from Bethel to Fairbanks. You would think that that is a reasonable request to ask of Google Maps, but there is only one hitch…. you can’t! There are no roads from Bethel to Fairbanks, nor from Bethel to anywhere else. The only way in or out of the town is via river or air.

So this got me curious…. what is life in Bethel like? And even more interestingly, what is DANCE in Bethel like? I mean, how many dance students can there be in a town of 6,000 people, where the people are probably outnumbered by moose, and surrounded by miles upon miles of vast frozen tundra? I had to find out, so I asked Delilah to tell me a little bit about her dancers! If there is a dance studio in Bethel, I would like to know what their name is and more about it!

Here is what Delilah told me about dance in Bethel:

“The name of our dance team is Delta Illusion Dance Company. To make a very long story short, our town is extremely transient and if you’re not born here you came up to work. For three years we had a lady teaching dance in our town. She worked full-time at the Dental Clinic, and taught dance classes in the evenings and on weekends. Looking back, I realize how much she truly loved dance because she must have been dead tired after working all day, yet she never got frustrated or upset when children didn’t listen or parents (who knew nothing about dance at that point) complained about the price of tap shoes and leotards.
 
In 2008, the dance teacher asked the parents if they would be interested in forming a competition team. Five parents agreed, although we had no idea what she was talking about. We we lured in by the costumes, the fact that our girls would keep active (which is important in a small town), and the added bonus that we would all get to travel to San Diego. When we got to StarPower in San Diego, we were amazed by the level of dance and intensity the other teams brought. Not to take away from our teacher, but we were recreational dancers with girls who still needed reminders about pointing toes and looking up. That trip opened our girls’ eyes and made them more serious about dance. It made them realize there was more to dance than just going to a class every evening. They were hooked.
 
In 2009 the dance teacher and her husband decided they wanted to move closer to their roots and start a family. We were devastated, but she agreed to do a year of classes/comp routines via Skype. She met us for a comp in Vancouver and that was our last time with her.
 
This part is where the true blessing/kismet/miracle happens. In 2010, four parents were determined to continue dance for our girls but were struggling with figuring out how. One of the parents contacted a studio in Florida she had sent her daughter to for summer camp. The owner of [Studio] in Florida has been an absolute blessing to us! She agreed to have the four girls come down for 2 weeks in the summer and lent us a studio and her two comp team instructors. We have been working with them ever since! Over the years, through pure randomness (or miracles, as I believe they are) We have found other people who help. Two women who live in L.A. help with choreographing and cleaning routines. One of the staff members for our school district took tap from the age of 2 and offered some classes when she was here. She moved in 2012, but this fall we finally got her to come up once a month and instruct. An Optometrist in town has danced since she was little and will help out when she has time. The biggest stroke of luck occurred when we found out that one of our teachers in a tiny village is married to a well-known Russian dancer, who retired after 20 years with the Russian Ballet. We try to fly him to Bethel as often as we can, but as of right now that is one weekend every other month. His wife is talking about transferring to Bethel next year!
 
The four original parents got a business license and pretty much started a dance studio. Although we have no actual studio hence the name Delta ‘Illusion’, our community has been very supportive by letting us practice free of charge in school gyms and cafeterias along with the gym at our local college. We do the the comp team which has traveled to many cities in the lower 48, but we also offer dance classes and a week long bootcamp for the community to give back and spread our love of dance. When teachers are not in town, one of the parents holds practices and cleans routines. You would be surprised at how much we have learned about dance, considering only one parent had any dance experience and that was high school cheer.The team started with just 4 girls but has now expanded to 23 members (including 3 boys).
 
Although this condensed version of the story makes it seem as though everything just fell into place (which in a way it has), there have been many ups-and-downs and obstacles. The one thing I have learned is that if you are truly passionate about something, there is a way to make it happen.”
 
I’ve known for many years how dedicated dancers are to their craft, but Delilah’s story takes it to a whole new level. Please feel free to share your thoughts about the Delta Illusion Dance Company and send them your regards and encouragement!

Wizard of Oz Remix is big hit

Just got a link to a video from Kim Houli, dance studio owner of Dance for Joy in Brielle, NJ. This is a video of the opening recital production number for which I did the music remix last fall. It was truly a pleasure to make this music, and an honor to provide the foundation for what Kim says was their biggest recital opening hit to date.

Enjoy the hard work of these fabulous dancers!

And now, you too can purchase and use this remix, thanks to a new service called Legitmix. Preview and purchase this mix here:

Get more Squirrel Trench remixes at Legitmix

Time to get your song editing orders in!

I’ve already started editing songs for the 2011-2012 season… put your requests in now before I get swamped! And if you are searching for a song, let me know what song was used for the routine the previous year, and I’ll suggest a new one for this year!

What exactly is good music editing for dance routines?

With the proliferation of free and cheap audio editing software, many dance studios have taken it upon themselves to handle the editing of their dance music. While it is certainly better to edit a song yourself than to not edit it at all, a top-notch dance studio may want to consider having their songs professionally edited.

Why would a dance studio have their music professionally edited?

Teachers and students at a quality dance studio spend hours upon hours perfecting their dances for recital, competition and other performances. Students practice all of their routines in class and at home. Every nuance, every detail of motion is perfected and cleaned up. Every detail, from how the dancers enter to how they exit the stage is choreographed for optimum audience enjoyment and professional presentation. The same is true for costumes and makeup. The details of the appearance are examined and refined.

So if a dance studio is spending countless hours and dollars to ensure every aspect of the dancers’ movement and appearance is the best it can possibly be, why wouldn’t they also want to ensure that the music, the foundation for every dance performance, is also as great as it can be? Why use music for performance that has glitches, awkward fade-outs, mismatched beats, frozen statue intros, abrupt jumps and other scars when seamless music can be created by a skilled music editor?

What does professional music editing for dance entail?

Some people think that dance editing is simply employed to remove swear words or other inappropriate lyrics from a song. But editing music well is much more than than, and certainly much more than fading a song out at the desired length of the routine. In fact, 90% of the time fading the music out at the desired length for the routine is at an awkward point in the song, leading to the most common music editing mistake heard at dance competitions. In this blog post I explain exactly how to avoid awkward fade-outs. (Here are the other Top 5 mistakes made in dance music editing.)

A skilled music editor, who understands what dancers need in a competition or recital-length routine, does a lot more than simply a fade a song out or edit out swear words. A skilled song editor analyzes a song for its structure, and then determines how that structure can be changed, sliced, or rearranged in order produce a new song that makes sense from beginning to end. Usually this involves shortening an intro, removing a verse and/or a chorus, shortening instrumental solos, and so on. This process is something that requires a great deal of skill and experience, in both music and audio editing, to execute flawlessly.

Skilled audio mix engineers not only rearrange the structure of an existing piece of music, they can perform quite a number of other audio engineering techniques such as changing the equalization of the music to better fit the dancer, speed up or slow down all or parts of a song without changing the pitch, add reverb to edit points or endings where it makes sense, and even increase the volume (slightly) of older recordings without causing clipping distortion.

The sad but unfortunate fact is that many dance teachers don’t even realize that they utilizing music with poor edits in their routines. Dance teachers are trained in the visual arts, and are experts at choreography and movement. Few are also exceptionally well-versed in music structure or audio editing. Therefore, dance studios would enhance the quality of their performance by utilizing the services of an experienced music editor to handle the process of editing songs to the right length for dance numbers.

As I mentioned before, it’s not too late to have a song with a music hiccup or glitch fixed in time for Nationals. In fact, I’ve just finished repairing a song like that right now… the dance routine is SPECTACULAR, winning Platinum and 2nd overall, and the music is by a well-known artist who hit the scene in the 80s. The song, as edited by the student, was wonderful all the way up until the very end when there was a fade out, followed by an abrupt jump into the last few notes. But have no fear, Squirrel Trench Audio now has the ending smooth and flawless! And since the routine has already been choreographed, I kept all aspects of the song identical to the original edit, except for the newly perfected ending. If you are cleaning up your dance moves after regionals, going into nationals, it makes sense to clean up your music too!