Music for Class: It’s All in the Details

Cris Judd's music for hip-hop class

Cris Judd believes that the most opportune time for performers to pull in the audience, especially those less-versed in dance, is when they’re not really dancing at all. That’s why his hip-hop classes at The PULSE On Tour emphasize pedestrian moments, like walking and stillness. He sees those as some of the most difficult aspects for young students to tackle. “Those are the places where you can tell how powerful a dancer is. It’s where you learn how present they are in the moment,” he says.

Judd’s smooth, isolated take on hip-hop is highly influenced by Michael Jackson. He performed with Jackson on his Dangerous and HIStory world tours. “Michael taught me that, yeah, there are parts that have to be spectacular and over the top,” he says, “but that being quiet is where the drama is really at.” DT

Tracks from the Past

Artist: Joe Jackson

Song: “Is She Really Going Out With Him?”

Artist: Michael Jackson

Song: “Come Together”

“Music from the ’70s and ’80s is great for young dancers. I like to use older songs to get kids more interested in the roots of what they’re listening to on the radio today. I just choreographed on a group of students ages 11–21 using ‘Is She Really Going Out With Him?’ and they loved the music. You just have to give the older stuff a chance.”

New Takes on an Older Sound

Artist: Michael Bublé

Album: Crazy Love

Artist: Robin Thicke (feat. Lil Wayne)

Song: “Pretty Lil’ Heart”

“I try to find music that has a lot of soul—there’s a lot of stuff out there today that I don’t find interesting and can’t relate to. Both of these artists have the flavor of older music with an edge that is really refreshing. I want something that lets me pull out the feelings—not just some cool steps.”

Slower Beats

Artist: Matt Morris

Song: “In This House”

Artist: Little Dragon

Songs: “Twice” and “Come Home”

“When I was newer to teaching and choreographing, I used to just listen to the beat to create everything. These songs really make you hear the details, and that helps you create more intricate choreography. Music like this has changed how I work, both as a choreographer and a teacher.”

Photo courtesy of The PULSE On Tour

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