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Music for Tap: It’s You by Duck Sauce

Music for Tap: It's You by Duck Sauce on DanceKellyStyle.net

I’m always on the hunt for modern music to tap to. Sure, I love tapping to classics. Songs from musicals, rock and roll with a steady beat, etc. But since I typically teach college students, I like to have something a little fresher to keep them intrigued. This is one of those songs. “It’s You” by Duck Sauce. Take a listen.

Perhaps the best part of this Duck Sauce song is it’s clean. Or maybe that it doesn’t need edited because it’s nice and short. But me? I like that it combines that old quartet sound with a fresh dance track. It allows you to switch between classic tap moves and more rhythmic tap sounds. From Suzie Qs to Shiggy Bops. It all works together.

Get it now:
Amazon | iTunes | Spotify | GooglePlay

P.S. If you’re thinking this sounds familiar, it might be bringing to mind the also popular, “Barbara Streisand,” also by Duck Sauce.

Music for Contemporary : Bad Body Double by Imogen Heap

MusicToModern_BadBodyDouble_DKSAs dancers, we grow up hearing stories of other dancers, both boys and girls, with eating disorders. Maybe it was an older girl, a friend, or even ourself. It’s an awful aspect of our beautiful art. With so much pressure to look a certain way — or weight — these days, it unfortunately doesn’t look like it’ll subside soon.

“Bad Body Double” by Imogen Heap brings some of those ugly feelings and thoughts to light. And so, we as dancers can bring them into movement. We can tell the stories of with distorted body images and peer pressure.

This song does have the “B-word” in it, but since it’s so long, it might need cut down for a suitable length piece for performance or competition. There’s also an instrumental version, which could also be a great piece of music to experiment with in the studio.

Take a listen here or on your service of choice:
iTunes | Spotify | Amazon | Google Play
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Finding new music for dance class

Overlay.001It’s one of the most mindless and most mindful tasks dance professionals have — finding music for class, for performances, for everything in between. There is an overabundance to choose from. Long, short. Slow, fast. Clean, not-so-clean. Oldies, new. Where to begin? Here’s a look at where to find new music for dance class.

Depending on the age of the dancers, their proficiency and your audience, you might begin with the choreography before even choosing music. For the point of this exercise, and these answers, let’s assume you’re starting with the music and going from there. Here’s what a few teachers said when asked,

Where do you find music ideas for class? 

Sometimes I just sit on iTunes for hours and hours, browsing artists that I like. Then that usually leads me to other artists that I have never heard of. YouTube is also a great way to find great music. There are tons of covers of popular songs.
Mr. Brian 

I teach a variety of ages and styles of dance. My teacher friends have helped me find some music, and I sometimes find ideas on dance.net. For my littlest ones I use Al Gilbert and Becca Retter music among other things for class.
Elise H. 

I use iTunes or I “Shazam” at competition or convention. 

Best find this year — Electro Swing Volume #4. 23 songs… enough for everything!
Miss Kathy 

I find music everywhere! I’m constantly listening to different radio stations, using iTunes genius, Spotify, pandora, paying attention to background music in movie or television…you name it.

For class I like to find songs the kids love. (Competition is a different ballgame. Nothing on the radio is allowed!)

For jazz I’ll often take a popular song from the radio but then find a cardio workout mix to use. I’ve also had good luck downloading mp3s from mashup artists like DJ Earworm.

The best album I’ve found for ballet so far is Ballet Goes Pop from iTunes. Every track is a popular song….the kids love trying to figure out what each song really is.
Eva M. 


Thanks, teachers! Great tips, all around. I am a Spotify user when it comes to finding new music, especially performances. There’s a similar artists feature that will help you discover new artists that sound like those you like.

I’m curious. Where do you find new music for class? We can all always use another place to find great tunes.

** Got a question? Get in touch. Know someone who should be featured on our panel? Nominate them. **

Music for Tap: All Together Now by André 3000

Andre3000_AllTogetherNow_DKSI fell in love with Outkast in approximately the year 2000. It was before the hit “Hey Ya” came out, right around the time when they started becoming a little more mainstream. A lot of the group’s music has an incredible beat that you can really dig into. HOWEVER… most of the music has some questionable lyrics. Lucky for us, there are a few songs that are a great combo of clean words and dirty beats.

Nike featured this cover of The Beatles’ “All Together Now” by André 3000 in an NBA basketball commercial a few years ago. And now you can download it and tap the day away. It totally passes “the time step test” and it’s short enough (the full length is 2:14) that you can get by without editing it!

Can I get an A-MEN?!

Listen now on:
itunes | Amazon | Spotify
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Now Dancing to: Bang Bang by will.i.am

In honor of the Oscars this weekend, I thought I’d share a track from one of last year’s top movies, The Great Gatsby. If you haven’t checked out the soundtrack yet, do. It’s loaded with some great upbeat pieces that are perfect for class or performance. The soundtrack was nominated for a few Grammys last year, so you can’t go wrong, right?

This piece from will.i.am is perfect for a jazz dance with a little attitude, a little 20s throwback and a lot of spunk. I’m thinking some Charlestons, kicks and a lot of fierce poses. It might even make a great production number as it could work for a variety of ages.

Take a listen and let me know I’m not alone. What do you envision? I’m seeing fringe. And sequins. Duh, of course sequins. Check out “Bang Bang” on your music service of choice:

iTunes | Amazon | GooglePlay

Now Dancing to: Tightrope by Janelle Monae

One of the things we challenge our college-aged students to do when working on new choreography is to come up with an idea for their dance. A concept. A story. We challenge them to create more than dance moves, but movement with feeling behind it. And if we challenge them to do it, I think we should have to do the same. Do as I say, do as I do… right?

And this song, Tightrope by Janelle Monae is a song you can use to tell a story. The beat is great and the lyrics can be interpreted in different ways, it just depends on your reference point. And the beat is great for tap or a pop jazz. For guys or girls or both. Watch the video and get inspired by Janelle’s quirky dance moves. Then, find it at your favorite source:

Amazon | iTunes | Spotify | Google Play

How to Choose Music : The Time Step Test

TimestepTestIt’s the early 90s. A warm day in Pittsburgh, PA. My mom, grandfather and I are on the back steps of his home. He smokes as I expend some extra energy running up and down the stairs alongside the house. It’s the day I first learned how to do time steps. My grandfather and mother—both dance teachers—were teaching me. “Pop-pop” took the tough love route and my mom let me get a taste of how she learned growing up.

And you know what, I haven’t stopped doing time steps since that day.

Nowadays, I know that there’s all kinds of time steps, but when trying to choose music for tap for intermediate levels and above, I’ll use a double-double or a triple-double to test new music. Based on the speed of the time steps I know whether that song might work for my tap group. Easy as that. And just because I use the time step test doesn’t meant those time steps are going in the final choreography. It’s just a baseline I use when finding just the right music.


How to Choose Music: Listen Outside Your Comfort Zone

Think Outside The Genre

As a dancer you hear your teacher correct the same mistakes over and over again. And as a teacher you say those same phrases over and over again.

“Point your toes.”
“Straighten your knees.”
“Stand up straight.”
“Don’t look down.”
These phrases become so much a part of our dance class that they start to go in one ear and out the other. They become a little cliche. Just like this music tip. “Think outside the genre.”

Gone are the days where we had to go to our list of “ballet music,” our stack of “tap records” or our old “jazz standards.” Once students are old enough to hear the music and keep their technique true to its style, there’s no reason to not shake things up enough. It’s easy to take a piece of music we would once stamp as a lovely instrumental ballet and turn it into an intricate rhythm tap number. Like this rendition of “Pumped Up Kicks” by the Vitamin String Quartet.

Or maybe turn an R&B piece into a funky ballet number. Like this remix of Janet Jackson’s “Someone to Call My Lover.”

Pair an offbeat track with classical movements. Or classical movements with an offbeat track. Either way, put your own spin on a not-so-traditional song and see what happens.

Now Tapping to: American, Idle by Pigeon John

MusicForTapI’m not sure when it started. In fact, I’m not sure when I started noticing it. Featured artists. They’re everywhere. It seems like almost every song I hear on the radio has a list of artists a mile long. will.i.am featuring Britney with a special appearance by Fergie plus sampling from Michael Jackson. Am I right?

But sometimes, those featured artists are where the dance gems truly lie. “American, Idle” by Heath McNease & Pigeon John was one of those songs for me. I fell down a hole on iTunes so deep by clicking related artists, sampling their tracks and checking out featured musicians on those albums.

This track is perfect for an advanced tap level when you’re looking for something a little outside the traditional tap box. I used it for college-aged students and it was hit. Take a listen on your favorite.

Spotify | iTunes | MySpace | Amazon | Google Play

Dance Kelly Style on: Music

DanceInsaneFriedrichNietzscheAs a kid, I’d dance to almost anything. A dripping faucet. Banging on pots and pans. My parents reprimanding me. (That last one hardly ever works out in your favor, FYI.) These days, now that I’m not a kid anymore, I’m always looking for new music to dance to. And that’s one of my focuses here on the blog. With your help, of course, I’m out to create a database of music to dance to. For class. For performance. For jazz, tap, ballet, hip hop. Heck, for dancing in your car. Why not?

So, if you’re looking for a certain type of music, let me know. I want to help you find it. Instrumental jazz with a tribal beat? Let’s find it. Soft shoe music with a modern twist. Let’s do it. And let’s choreograph it and dance until the day ends.

What do you say? Are you in? We’ve got music to dance to.