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Stack of folders with text: 10 do's and don'ts of Selecting a Competition Song, by Erica Gabrielle

10 Do’s and Don’ts of Selecting a Competition Song

For many dancers, the hardest part of preparing for competition is not the choreography but committing to a song. This is certainly understandable as this decision is not to be taken lightly. The song selection can make or break a competition. Here are some tips to help you select the perfect song to accompany your performance.

  1. DO pick a song that moves you.
    I find it very interesting when I hear dancers say they hate their competition song. How can you dance to a song that you don’t even want to hear? As a dancer, if you’re not at all compelled to move by your song, then that’s a good sign that that song is not for you and developing choreography will be painstaking.Trust that judges can always tell when a performer really isn’t feeling inspired by their song.
  2. DO use Pandora, Last.fm, and Spotify for help.
    If you’re not sure where to even begin to select a competition song, enter a song or an artist that you already love dancing to and have Pandora, Last.fm, or Spotify suggest similar tracks.
  3. DON’T choose a song that is on any Top 40 lists.
    If you heard your song on the radio this week, or at the bar during your last happy hour, or if your song is by Banks, Beyonce, or Sia, DO NOT dance to that song! There are few things worse than competing against someone who is using the same song as you and it honestly happens more often than it should. My first year competing, there were at least three performers that used “Say Something” by A Great Big World and you could hear the collective sighs from the audience and judges every time. Like it or not, judges will automatically begin to directly compare you to the other performer even if you’re in different categories. It’s always a safer idea to be creative and put more thought into your song choice. If you just HAVE to use that song by Queen Bey, consider using a remix, cover, or an acoustic version to set yourself apart.
  4. DON’T pick your most favorite song in your iTunes library.
    I promise you, after you’re done with your competition practice, you’ll likely not want to hear that song again for a very long time.
  5. DO actually LISTEN to your song like a performer.
    Too often nowadays, we just casually listen to songs without taking notice of the lyrics, dynamics, and feel of the song. What is the mood of this song? How does it make you feel? What is the artist saying? How can you make this song come to life using your movements? Don’t fight with the song. Follow where the song is taking you. If the song is carrying you someplace you don’t want to be, choose a different song. With that being said…
  6. DO pick a song for its dynamic musical elements.
    You want to find a song that has some variation in intensity or tempo to punctuate your killer pole combos rather than one that is monotonous. Is your song really soft in the beginning and then gradually intensifies? Your choreography should do the same. As a dancer, you should blend with your song and bring it to life. If you have a dynamic song, there’s more musicality to play with which enhances your performance and increases your score.
  7. DO YouTube your song to see who has pole danced to it before.
    If a very well-known pole dancer has performed to that song before you, you may want to think twice about using that song. The pole community spends a lot of time watching videos of pole professionals and if a pole celebrity has a famous performance to your song, that will always be in the back of the minds of judges and the audience.
  8. DO raise the volume on your track before you submit it.
    Many of the major competitions like the USPDF or PSO comps have professional sound engineers that can easily adjust the volume but I have seen competitions and performances where that was not the case. Save yourself the trouble of straining to hear your song and make sure the volume on your individual track is turned up. This can easily be done in iTunes.
  9. DON’T be afraid of a little creative editing.
    If you don’t like segments of your song, you can always take them out or rearrange it! Add sound effects to accent specific moves or to further enhance your story. DO hire a professional if you’re not comfortable doing this yourself. It’ll be worth the money rather than having a shoddy edit.
  10. DO lose yourself in the song.
    When you’re on stage, don’t be afraid to just let go and feel the music. Judges want to see the passion behind your piece so don’t hold yourself back. You’ve selected a perfect song that fits your personality and dance style so just go for it!

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