Huge congratulations to Cheryl Stenz and the Newtown High School dance team! After winning their conference title a few weeks ago, yesterday they won the Connecticut State Championship in the lyrical category with their Turn To Stone routine. The music for this routine was edited by Squirrel Trench Audio. Here is their winning routine:
As pointed out in this article on Suite 101, there are three keys to creating a winning dance routine for competitions.
1.) Start with fantastic and appropriate music. Dance is based on the foundation of music. If you don’t build your routine and choreography on wonderful music, then you are missing out on a major source of emotional impact on the audience and judges. I can help you select winning music for your next competition dance routine. I’ve attended numerous Regional and National dance competitions, and have decades of experience in music. When choosing songs, there are some songs (or versions of songs) that will leave the judges flat. I can help you pick something memorable and appropriate for your dancer. Just let me know the dancer’s personality, age and what song they’ve used previously, and I will give you a couple of suggestions for their next song. Whatever song you select, I can also edit it to the needs of winning competition routines, i.e. the correct duration, and any other minor adjustments it might need, such as a slight tempo change, or boosting the volume without clipping distortion.
2.) Choreography. I am no expert in this field, that is for YOU the dance teacher to make great. I agree with the article; great choreography nearly always tells a story. It doesn’t matter if the audience doesn’t fully understand the story conveyed, if there IS a story, then the dancer has a message to transmit to the audience, and that’s the important thing.
3.) Costume. Dance is a very visual medium. While the music provides the auditory part of the routine, the costume provides the foundation for the visual part of the routine. The above referenced article goes into greater depth on costume choices.
4.) What this article leaves out is the most important part of a winning dance routine: PRACTICE. Practice equals love. If your student loves to dance, it will manifest itself in the practice habits of the dancer. One of my favorite sayings is the difference between amateurs and professionals is that amateurs practice until they get it right, PROFESSIONALS PRACTICE UNTIL THEY CAN’T GET IT WRONG.
So now we know that music is the foundation of the dance routine. Costume is the foundation of the visual part of the dance routine. Just as you wouldn’t put your dancer on stage with a ripped or torn costume, why would you put your dancer on stage with music that contains scars, hiccups, half-beats, partial measures, jumps, cuts, awkward fade outs, or unnatural silences? I’ve heard all of these music editing mistakes at competitions. Are they enough to reduce the scores from the judges? I don’t know, but why take a chance? Since you put countless hours of rehearsal into your choreography and practice every week, shouldn’t your music reflect the same meticulous level of detail and precision?
When you are ready for your music to step up to your dance, Squirrel Trench Audio is here to deliver.
What have YOU found to be the key to creating a winning dance competition routine?
It just makes sense…. when you are a professional dance studio with a high caliber of teachers and students, you deserve to have professionally edited music for your competitions and recitals. While certainly the focus of the studio is on dance, it’s pretty hard to dance well to music that is less than professional.
It doesn’t really make sense to ask your dance teachers to edit their own music. Your teachers are experts at choreography, turns, and motivating students to dance their best. It’s unreasonable to also expect them to understand the intricacies of song structure, phrase editing, normalization, beat alignment, zero-crossings of audio wave forms, and reverb, compression and equalization techniques.
But how is a dance studio owner to pay for the expense of professional music editing, when budgets are already extremely tight? Fortunately, there is a way for the studio owner to not only pay for professional music editing, but also make a small profit by providing individualized practice CDs to every single student of the studio. By charging a modest music fee to all students, to cover the cost of editing the songs they are in, plus providing them with an individualized practice CD with all of their group and solo songs, you will cover the music editing expense, the CD burning expense, and have a small profit left over for the studio. The size of the profit will depend on the size of your studio, plus a few other variables such as the total number of different songs your studio has edited for the season. Email me, and I’ll be happy to provide a spreadsheet showing sample income and expense projections for a studio of your particular size.
Wow. Imagine that. Professionally edited music for every song your studio uses in competition and recital, a customized practice CD for each and every one of your students containing all of the songs they are in, and your studio makes a small profit in the process. Win-win-win!
If you are a dance teacher, and you edit your own music, this blog has many tips for doing a more professional job. Start with the Top 5 music editing mistakes heard at competition, along with the cure for the most common one: How to avoid awkward fade-out endings.