When Erica Marr discovered ballroom dancing in her late teens, she instantly fell in love with the Latin beats and strong drum lines that challenged her musicality. After shifting her focus away from contemporary and jazz, she began studying with elite ballroom coaches in New York City and quickly earned a World Championship title in her division.


Ten years later, as a teacher and award-winning choreographer (she was a 2017 Capezio A.C.E. Awards finalist), she's carved out a niche blending jazz and ballroom. "For so long, the ballroom world was its own thing and I always wanted to mesh the two worlds together," says Marr.

Her unique style doesn't necessarily require a partner and makes ballroom accessible to all dancers. "There's this core bass beat in the music that everyone is affected by," she says. This universal appeal helps make ballroom more relatable to a room full of dancers who've only studied ballet, tap and jazz. "I'll teach a bachata or a Cuban-break step that's syncopated, which introduces quicker moving and timing." Music for contemporary is such a personal choice for each choreographer, she points out, whereas traditional ballroom styles require a set timing and beats per minute.

When setting choreography for a competition team or at a convention, Marr tends to choose music that starts slow and builds to a crescendo—an arc that she attributes to ballroom's crowd-pleasing affect. "It's flashy and exciting," she says. "I'm always looking for that 'wow' moment within a song."

Song: "Alors On Danse" (Remix) (feat. Kanye West & Gilbere Forté)

"This is a great high-energy song for a cha-cha. There is a clear tempo of about 120 bpm in this track. I love the texture of this song that allows for fun choreography, as well as all the technical aspects of the cha-cha. I tend to use this song for across-the-floor routines involving cha-cha exercises."


Artist: Sak Noel and Salvi (feat. Sean Paul)
Song: "Trumpets"

"I love everything about this track. I love the energy behind this music, which complements my choreography style. This song has a samba tempo to accentuate this fun and exciting style of Latin. There is an element of reggaeton, too, which lends itself to be able to blend elements of jazz with samba."


Artist: Watazu
Album: Wata Rhythm (Latin dance rhythms)

"This entire album is amazing. Samba and Afro-Brazilian is my absolute favorite. I use this track specifically for practicing technical steps in the samba, such as Botafogos, batucadas and crusade walks. The use of the samba drums and shakers brings out the natural samba bounce. There are many other tracks on this album to use for these same exercises, as well."


Artist: Moska
Song: "Duma"

"This track lends itself to a cha-cha tempo, but also has so much texture in the song to play with. I love creating to music that isn't necessarily boxed in to a specific genre, but can be blended together in a combo. I love the impact the song builds to, which allows me to really create high-energy choreography."


Artist: J Balvin & Willy William
Song: "Mi Gente"

"This song is recognized by most people and provides an amazing samba tempo. I love finding music that is easily relatable, but also has a great Latin foundation. I have taught samba choreography to this track, but there is so much texture that you can blend other elements."

The Conversation
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Photo by spinkickpictures.com, courtesy of Mitchell

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As dance teachers, we're always looking for new treats to hand out to our littles at the end of class. Rewards for good behavior can be a lifesaver when dealing with rambunctious up-and-coming dancers, but if they get too predictable, the candies can lose their persuasive effect. Thank goodness for seasonal trends in treats—they give us just the shakeup we need!

Since Easter is coming up fast, we thought we would share with you five different candy ideas to hand out this month. They're the break from lollipops that you've been looking for!

You're welcome!

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Gabriel Figueredo in a variation from Raymonda. VAM Productions, Courtesy YAGP.

This week, more than 1,000 young hopefuls gathered in New York City for the Youth America Grand Prix finals, giving them the chance to compete for scholarships and contracts to some of the world's top ballet schools and companies. Roughly 85 dancers made it to the final round at Lincoln Center's David H. Koch Theater on Wednesday. Today, the 20th anniversary of YAGP came to a close at the competition's awards ceremony. Read on to find out who won!

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Q: A student of mine recently got a bad sprained ankle, and it's been weak ever since she returned to class. Are there any exercises you suggest to strengthen it?

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"WOD" is back for Season 3, and once again, the internet is loving it! How much do they love it, you ask? Well they've watched many of the dances millions of times, so it's safe to say—A WHOLE LOT! We did some research and discovered which dances have been watched the most since Season 3's premiere, and the results may surprise you.

Here are the top-four most viewed "WOD" videos of the season so far! Let us know your favorite over on our Facebook page!

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Dance Teacher Tips
Photos by Kyle Froman

A few years ago, Mary Ann Lamb got a phone call from Ann Reinking, who was choreographing a production of The Visit starring Chita Rivera. Lamb was thrilled when Reinking offered her the role of Young Claire without even asking for an audition. "And then she said, 'In the first act, you're going to play Chita Rivera when she's a 17-year-old virgin,'" Lamb says, "and I'm like, 'What am I gonna do? I'm like 50 years old!' I started panicking. My dream was to be in the room with Ann Reinking and Chita Rivera, but I was scared to death I was going to make a fool of myself."

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Q: As a dance teacher, which products do you prefer, Apple or Google?

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Just for fun
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The one thing that can unite all of us on April 15 is the fact that everyone hates doing their taxes. Though they are necessary, they are exhausting and time-consuming, and just plain no fun for anyone!

To help you cope, we've captured what doing taxes feels like through a series of dancer memes.

YOU'RE WELCOME!

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When it comes to running a thriving dance studio, Cindy Clough knows what she's talking about. As executive director of Just For Kix and a studio owner for more than four decades, she's all too aware of the unique challenges the job presents, from teaching to scheduling to managing employees and clients.

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Bartlett, front and center, leading a class. Photo by Arthur Fink, courtesy of Bartlett

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