Most dancers know Maksim Chmerkovskiy from “Dancing With the Stars,” but few are aware that he opened his first dance school, Rising Stars Dance Academy, in Saddle Brook, New Jersey, at age 16. (Today, he also owns Dance with Me Social Dance Studio, in Ridgefield, NJ, and Glen Head, New York.) So it comes as no surprise that Chmerkovskiy knows what type of music students like and dislike, especially beginner boys. “When parents would bring in boys, instead of putting on some boring, cheesy instrumental version of the cha-cha, I would put on stuff like ‘Paralyzer’ by Finger Eleven, and they would go, ‘Oh, I love this song,’” he says. “This is 2009, you have to adapt, you have to innovate, and I try to do that through music.” But that’s not to say that he doesn’t appreciate the traditional ballroom music choices, as well. He relies on classic artists such as Celia Cruz and Tito Puente for cha-cha and Ella Fitzgerald for samba numbers. Says Chmerkovskiy, “Any dancer understands that music is like a second partner; we dance with a person and with the music.

Cha-Cha

“The Seed” by The Roots featuring Cody Chestnutt

“Paralyzer” by Finger Eleven

“Canoero,” “El Congo” by Celia Cruz

“El Niche” by Habana All Stars

“Mother in Law” by Cubanismo

“Sex Bomb” by Tom Jones vs. Mousse T

 

Paso Doble

“While this dance is traditionally performed to España Cani music, for the correct timing of the accents, I like to use ‘Nightmare’ by Brainbug when I teach it, so my students don’t worry about accents and concentrate on the strong beat of the dance.”

 

 

 

Samba

“A-tisket, A-tasket” by Ella Fitzgerald

“Dudu” by Tarkan

“Hi-Fi Trumpet” by Stereo Action Unlimited

“Magalenha” by Sergio Mendes

“Besta E Tu” by Novos Baianos

“Float On” by Modest Mouse

“Fiesta De Um Povo” by Marcos Sales

“King of the Bongo Bong” and “Clandestino” by Manu Chao

“Ole Ole” by Leonid Agutin

“Te Ves Buena” by King Africa

“Mi Swing Es Tropical” by Quantic & Nickodemus

Any song by The Gipsy Kings

Rumba

“A day in a life of a fool” by Harry Belafonte

“All is full of love” by Björk

“UR” by DJ Tiesto

“Ya Lo Se Que Te Vas” by Juan Gabriel

“Slowly” by Macy Gray

“La Playa” by Chayanne

“I want love” by Elton John

“Stop and stare” by OneRepublic

“By your side” by Sade

“So in love” by Shirley Bassey

Jive

“All my loving” sung by Jim Sturgess from the Across the Universe soundtrack

“Hit the Road Jack” by Ray Charles

“Choo Choo Boogie” by The Goodfellas

“Stuck on You” by Elvis Presley

“Shake it” by Metro Station

“Hey Ya!” by OutKast

“Hafannana” by Eli Goulart

“Little Bitty Pretty One” by Dee Clark

Photo courtesy of ABC photo

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