Trending

Spice Up Your Class Playlist With Erica Marr's Music for Ballroom

Photo courtesy of Marr

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."

Sponsored by A Wish Come True
Courtesy A Wish Come True

With so much else on your plate, from navigating virtual learning to keeping your studio afloat, it can be tempting to to cut corners or to settle for less in order to check "costumes" off of this season's to-do list. Ultimately, though, finding a costume vendor you trust is paramount to keeping your stress levels low and parent satisfaction high, not to mention helping your students look—and feel—their absolute best. Remember: You are the client, and you deserve exceptional service. And costume companies like A Wish Come True are ready to go above and beyond for their customers, but it's important that you know what to ask for. Here are some tips to make sure you are getting the most out of your costume company.

Keep reading... Show less
Higher Ed
Charles Anderson (center) in his (Re)current Unrest. Photo by Kegan Marling, courtesy of UT Austin

Given the long history of American choreographers who have threaded activism into their work—Katherine Dunham, Pearl Primus, Donald McKayle, Joanna Haigood, Bill T. Jones, Jo Kreiter, to name a few—it's perhaps surprising that collegiate dance has offered so little in the way of training future generations to do the same.

Until now, that is. Within the last three years, two master's programs have cropped up, each the first of its kind: Ohio University's MA in community dance (new this fall), and the University of Texas at Austin's dance and social justice MFA, which emerged from its existing MFA program in 2018. These two programs join the University of San Francisco's undergraduate performing arts and social justice major, with a concentration in dance, which has been around since 2000.

Keep reading... Show less
Teacher Voices
Getty Images

As many dance teachers begin another semester of virtual teaching, it is time to acknowledge the fact that virtual classes aren't actually accessible to all students.

When schools and studios launched their virtual dance programs at the beginning of the pandemic, many operated under the assumption that all their students would be able to take class online. But in reality, lack of access to technology and Wi-Fi is a major issue for many low-income students across the country, in many cases cutting them off from the classes and resources their peers can enjoy from home.

Keep reading... Show less

Get Dance Business Weekly in your inbox

Sign Up Used in accordance with our Privacy Policy.