It happens all the time: confusing, super fast or overwhelming melodies can make it difficult for a dancer to find and follow the beat and proper timing of the music. Not good! The beats per minute may be within a set range for competition music, but the melody and the arrangement of the music can make or break it for a dancer.
Inspiring music at a competition can bring out the best that everyone wants to show, see and feel. The trouble is that competing dancers do not have any control over competition playlists. Dancers and coaches do, however, have control over the music they work with in lessons and practice. Our view is that there is a lot of nice music out there, and what you love is based mostly on your own taste. For serious dancers, however nice isn’t good enough.
• Is the music going to make you feel like dancing your best? • Is a particular track mixed in a way that will be a great backdrop for you to practice an important skill? • Is there enough variety to help you build different skills and adapt to very different beats and melodies? • …..and of course it is complex, energetic and inspiring enough to motivate you to practice that few minutes more like your coach always says you should?
It might seem like a lot to ask, but music is important, so why not look for, expect and evaluate it based on what you really need? We reviewed DanceSport DJ Ice’s newest album – Very Latin – with a view of how it may or may not help you to become a better dancer, and how to use it to get the most value.
On the inside, Egor Shalvarov, while being in England for the Blackpool week, was able to get together with the man of the hour, the Ballroom Dance music producer – DanceSport DJ ICE (Sirawit Ittisoponpisan). The interview is just below:
First, the Basics
Very Latin is a 2 CD, 42 track album, with beats per minute and mixes that are geared to Latin dancers. The songs are a mix of recent hits and older more traditional tunes. All are updated to have a new feel and flavor, so do not expect to know how a song sounds, just because you know the original song – some are similar, others are not.
Now, the reference information for your practices, which should also help you decide whether you should invest in the album for yourself
Samba Has anyone ever told you that your samba is too light? Perhaps lacking the earthy sensuality? If the answer is yes, try: • Track 3 Gasolina. It is mixed to keep a strong Reggaeton feel, which would raise an eyebrow for many parents, like Reggaeton often does. • Track 5 La Colegiala also has a strong beat, and clear strong female vocals that brings up memories of Selena Lecca.
Are you just learning the samba beat, or do you need to go back to the basics of it after loosing it in complex choreography? Not being clear in your basics is a major dance sin, so try: • Track 2 Rosas Y Espinas. It has a clear and consistent samba beat, and a slightly slower melody that will help you get it together. • Track 6 Loca has an appealing sound and inspires a great samba bounce – but play it early in your practice and never last since you will never get it out of your head. • Track 8 No Sigue Modas has a heavy march beat that is infectiously easy to follow. Actually don’t play this one last either. Same reason as above. • Track 11 Tentacion has a lighter bouncy pop music feel, but us still unmistakably samba and great for basic training.
One thing that is often missed, is practicing to complex melodies. Complex melodies are essential to keep you on the ball and can inspire creative emotionality. Try: • Track 4 Timbale. It has a traditional Latin feel and a flirty female vocal. • Track 7 Como Olvidar also has a traditional Latin feel, with romantic a male vocal. • Track 9 La La La adds an urban edge to the melody and will likely be a favorite for many. • Track 10 Porque Yo Canto has a light and fun feel, but will also keep you on your toes.
Need something fun to inspire fresh choreography that stays true to samba’s carnival roots? Try: • Track 1 Bailando is clear and energetic, and would be inspiring to a formation or show dance.
Cha Cha Are you looking to nail the flirty sharpness that is the character of cha cha? Try: • Track 14 Glad You Came. It has a clear mid tone beat with upbeat pop vocals. • Track 21 Mi Vida Contigo has a distinctly Latin pop feel and slower melody.
Need to test yourself with complex cha cha rhythms? Try various shades of pop music: • Track 13 Don’t Stop The Party maintained its fun pop feel and the original melody. • Track 16 Nunca Me Acuerdo De Olvidarte has a slower melody and is very Latin pop. • Track 17 Sorry For Party Rocking also maintained much of the pop feel of the original. • Track 20 Troublemaker shows off a light pop mood to complete the range of pop sounds.
Do you have amazing styling and highlights and want inspiration to show them off at their best? Try: • Track 12 Beatbox Cha Cha. This track has a clear and simple arrangement, great highlights and a 60s cool mood – great for a showdance with perhaps an Austin Powers inspired costume. • Track 19 Mama Lover has a disco-techo-pop sound, which is nicely fresh for ballroom.
Would you like double duty for east coast swing? Try: • Track 15 Botao En Madrid, has an engaging rock and roll feel that is more “grown up sexy” than flirty. • Track 18 The Shoop Shoop Song channels 50s girl groups.
Rumba Are hoping to explore and refine your musicality? Try: • Track 26 Children is a beautiful instrumental piece with many musical levels to explore. • Track 27 El Lado Oscuro has a slower melody and many contrasting and harmonious sounds, and feels a bit like slight drunk seduction. • Track 29 Tiempo is haunting and enticing. • Track 31 Cuando Me Enamoro has many instrumental intonations, and a musical male vocal which could make a person feel like they want to meet the singer…. Oh wait it is Enrique Iglesias :)…understandable.
Are you interested in testing the feel of American Style Rhythm with a faster melody on top of the Latin rumba beat? Try: • Track 24 Stay With Me. This mix is faster and lighter than the original. • Track 25 Ain’t That Just The Way. It is song that you will absolutely love or absolutely not, but that makes it kind of interesting. • Track 28 Rather Be. A brilliant cover and similarly brilliant remix. • Track 30 All Of Me. Again a faster and lighter version of the original.
Want a simple easy to follow melody? Try: • Track 22 Thinking Out Loud sets a tone of innocent romance on a Sunday afternoon.
Want a more complex melody? Try: • Track 23 No Se Olvidar has a big band sound and musical variety that includes a stylish Latin balladeer, who is likely wearing amazing shoes.
Jive Every jive collection need a few particularly high energy tracks to build your stamina and test whether you can maintain your lines, timing and technique? • Track 32 Shake It Off is energetic, youthful and memorable…it will definitely wake you up. • Track 37 You Can’t Stop The Beat will bring out your strength and energy in a Broadway kind of way. Just please watch the facial expressions! • Track 39 Can’t Hold Us is similar to the original with a faster beat. It also does double duty as a track with complexity given its rap overlay.
Want a the kind of jive that is great for building your Jive personality while in hitting awesome lines? Try: • Track 35 Swing It has a fun and bouncy feel and a fresh but retro sound. • Track 36 Dance With Me Tonight is another fun track with the personality of early rock and roll.
Want a complex track for your jive? Try: • Track 33 Una Chica Para Mi Mambo has the traditional Latin sound, which typically has complex melodies.
Want something with a clear Jive feel? Try: • Track 34 Upside Down. It is a simple clear easily danceable jive. Great for basics. • Track 38 Love In This Club is another fun rock and roll mix with a very Elvis vibe.
Paso Want to add interest to your Paso, then practice with new music! Try: • Track 40 Espana Cani is a fresh and modern sounding mix of a traditional Paso song. • Track 41 Marija Bagdalena has a lighter musical feel. • Track 42 Hey, Jude offers a very clear march to bring out your inner matador. And no, it does not sound like the original. And yes, it surprisingly does work as a Paso!!
All said, Very Latin is a solid album that should offer a good value to dancers given the freshness of the mixes and the range of tracks. The last test is whether the music inspires envy from Standard dancers given what it offers Latin dancers. For that point as well, Very Latin is a success.