In 2002, Luam left behind a technology career to pursue dance and choreography full-time. The decision paid off: Now in high demand as a choreographer and dancer, Luam has worked with top recording artists such as Ludacris, Fergie, Kanye West amd Ashanti, and choreographed for stage and screen. A long-time faculty member of Broadway Dance Center, she also teaches and performs internationally. And, as if that weren't enough, 2007 saw the launch of her hip hop-inspired clothing line, L.U.A.M. (Love Understands All Music) by Wildchild Nation, which has been featured in the MTV reality series "Fashion: The Life" and  the film Step Up 2.

 

"Music drives the movement, I can never say it enough. As a hip-hop choreographer, I blend different styles (hip hop, street jazz, African, dancehall, etc.) into a palette I use to fit my music choices. Since I may not always use traditional hip-hop music for class, I've called it 'Hip-Hop Fusion' to allow me freedom to explore.

 

'Whatever the music tells me to do, I do,' I tell my students. 'Get into the music–really get into it–and you will see what I see, to help you do what I do.' And what do I do? I am a storyteller. I have to tell the story of the instruments and the artist to shape the movement. If you pick the right artists and the right songs, it pretty much choreographs itself. Here are some picks that have helped me along the way."

 

(Remember, you can always get the clean version of any album or song. If you can’t find it in the store, look online.)

 

 

Click here to see a clip of Luam teaching class at the August 2008 Dance Teacher Summer Conference.

 

Artist: Aaliyah

Album/Songs: Aaliyah; “Read Between the Lines," "Messed Up" and "Rock the Boat”

 We lost a true music icon in Aaliyah. Her album was so far ahead of its time, I discover something new to love every time I break it out. Her song choices are diverse, and her haunting voice will add something timeless to a choreographed piece.

 

Artist: Lil Wayne

Album/Songs: The Carter III; "A Milli," "La La" and "Got Money" 

This song is brilliantly smooth, effortless and beat-driven. Nasri is a new artist—so new in fact, that he is not out yet. He is an up-and-coming songwriter who recently penned this track for New Kids on the Block. However, his version (with his voice) is 100 times better, and he will definitely give Ne-Yo a run for his money as a singer/songwriter when he decides to drop his album.

 

Artist: M.I.A

Album/Songs: Kala; "Bamboo Banga," "Come Around" and "Bird Flu" 

I selfishly thought M.I.A. was my personal discovery a few years ago (with her first album Arular), but she has since blown up in the states with a successful second album. The beats are dancehall influenced pop music infused with politics and social realism. All her music makes me want to get up and move, although the stories she tells are dark.

 

Artist: N.E.R.D.

Album/Songs: Seeing Sounds; "Everyone Nose," "Kill Joy" and "Anti Matter" 

With this appropriately titled album, they've done it again. Bringing a rock edge to the hip hop genre, these guys are good for an energetic class or piece.

 

Artist: Rihanna

Album/Songs: Good Girl Gone Bad; "Sell Me Candy" "Breakin' Dishes" and "Umbrella" 

This pop princess gives me a plethora of styles and textures of songs to work with–from dance/house  to reggae, eerie ballads  to thrash rock. 

 

Artist: Nasri

Song: “Click Click Click”


This song is brilliantly smooth, effortless and beat-driven. Nasri is a new artist—so new in fact, that he is not out yet. He is an up-and-coming songwriter who recently penned this track for New Kids on the Block. However, his version (with his voice) is 100 times better, and he will definitely give Ne-Yo a run for his money as a singer/songwriter when he decides to drop his album.

 

Artist: Busta Rhymes

Song: “Don’t Touch Me”
 

 
Busta is a staple in my music catalog. He’s the ultimate storyteller, and his syncopation with the beat and unpredictable flow give dimension to his crazy metaphors. Whenever I’m suffering from choreographer’s block, I just pop in Busta or Missy [Elliott]! This particular song is like a roller coaster, and it takes you on a ride with crazy highs and lows. Busta at his best.

 


 

Artist: OneRepublic

Song: “Say All I Need”
 

 
It’s not R&B or rap, but this song is pure emotion and music. OneRepublic is behind the hit “Apologize,” and this song is just as powerful, if not more so.

 


 

Artist: Jay Z

Song: “Jockin Jay-Z”
 

 
This song is so new, you won’t find it on iTunes. In fact, Jay-Z debuted it at Kanye’s concert (which was brilliant, by the way) in August. The beat is infectious and the character of it is supremely confident, with “crazy swagger.” A great preview to his upcoming album.

 

 

Artists: Omarion, featuring Missy Elliott

Song: “Wiggle”

 

Though it’s technically Omarion’s song, Missy steals the show for me. She always delivers hot dance music with clever instrumentation, ad-libs and metaphors. Her lyrics paint fun pictures that make it easy to represent through choreography.

 

 

Artist: Santogold

Song: “Creator”
 

 
This girl is brilliant. I don’t even know how to classify her; just listen to the song (and watch the video for Santogold’s other song, “L.E.S. Artistes,” as soon as you can). This song is so hot, I had to make my own video for it.

 



And here are some of the albums I’m excited about:


Jay Z, Blueprint 3 (release date December 2, 2008)


Karina Pasian, First Love (available now)

Missy Elliott, Block Party (release date November 11, 2008)

 

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