Music for Dance Class: High School Musical

Students at Bellaire High School, in Bellaire, Texas, know a thing or two about dance—thanks to their teacher, Sanja Korman, who was recognized as the National Dance Association’s 2008 K–12 Educator of the Year. “As a high school teacher, my music repertoire needs to be diverse and very appealing to teenagers,” says Korman. “I try to let my students dance to something that they enjoy listening to, because it helps them relate to the music, which will further enable them to pursue their love for dance.” Korman recommends offering some non-U.S. artists to help broaden advanced students’ knowledge. “For my performing classes, I try to offer an array of artists to expand students’ horizons in a multicultural sense.” Check out a few of Korman’s favorites here.  DT

Artist: Leona Lewis

Song: “Bleeding Love”

“This is such a versatile song. It’s ideal for a hip-hop class, but lately I’m using it for lyrical hip hop. There are two different rhythms throughout the whole song. It’s really great to help students learn to dance by following the lyrics.”

Artist: Jordin Sparks (duet with Chris Brown)

Song: “No Air”

“A beautiful song when you are teaching partnering and lifting! It allows you to teach your students to express themselves through their motions, while also enhancing the skills needed to perform with another person.”

Artist: Madonna 

Song: “Die Another Day”

“Madonna’s music is appealing to my students. When I am working on progressions or across the floor warm-up exercises, I use Madonna’s or Britney Spears’ upbeat songs!”

Artist: Taylor Swift 

Song: “Love Story”

“I use this song for my freshman classes. It has everything necessary for beginning dance students: a steady beat, nice lyrics and great sound!”

Artist: Björk

Song: “Jóga”

“My modern dance company did a dance to this song. It is very eclectic and allows for more abstract choreography. It sounds very different but is beautiful in its own way.”

Artist: Elisa 

Album: Dancing

“The whole album is great! I love her voice and lyrics. ‘Dancing’ is a great song as well—it’s beautiful to choreograph a contemporary piece to. This is another example of those songs that can offer two rhythms at the same time. My performing modern dance class is making a contemporary routine to this song, and every day we are discovering another dance sequence that works for it.”

Artist: Goran Bregovic 

Albums: Ederlezi and Tales and Songs from Weddings and Funerals

“I often use these songs to expose my students to other cultures and new sounds. The songs are very unusual, with atypical rhythms on both albums. I like to tell students a story about the particular song’s roots, folk background tales, traditions and customs before they listen, which makes it even more interesting.”

Studio Owners
Courtesy Tonawanda Dance Arts

If you're considering starting a summer program this year, you're likely not alone. Summer camp and class options are a tried-and-true method for paying your overhead costs past June—and, done well, could be a vehicle for making up for lost 2020 profits.

Plus, they might take on extra appeal for your studio families this year. Those struggling financially due to the pandemic will be in search of an affordable local programming option rather than an expensive, out-of-town intensive. And with summer travel still likely in question this spring as July and August plans are being made, your studio's local summer training option remains a safe bet.

The keys to profitable summer programming? Figuring out what type of structure will appeal most to your studio clientele, keeping start-up costs low—and, ideally, converting new summer students into new year-round students.

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Claire, McAdams, courtesy Houston Ballet

Former Houston Ballet dancer Chun Wai Chan has always been destined for New York City Ballet.

While competing at Prix de Lausanne in 2010, he was offered summer program scholarships at both the School of American Ballet and Houston Ballet. However, because two of the competition's winners that year were Houston Ballet's Aaron Sharratt and Liao Xiang, dancers Chan idolized, he turned down SAB. He joined Houston Ballet II in 2010, the main company's corps de ballet in 2012, and was promoted to principal in 2017. Oozing confidence and technical prowess, Chan was a Houston favorite, and even landed himself a spot on Dance Magazine's "25 to Watch."

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Music
Mary Mallaney/USC Glorya Kaufman School of Dance, courtesy Osato

In most classes, dancers are encouraged to count the music, and dance with it—emphasizing accents and letting the rhythm of a song guide them.

But Marissa Osato likes to give her students an unexpected challenge: to resist hitting the beats.

In her contemporary class at EDGE Performing Arts Center in Los Angeles (which is now closed, until they find a new space), she would often play heavy trap music. She'd encourage her students to find the contrast by moving in slow, fluid, circular patterns, daring them to explore the unobvious interpretation of the steady rhythms.

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