Whole Lotta Choreography. Maybe Too Much?

I have been watching a thread on line dance choreographer Frank Trace’s Facebook wall when he posted about Copperknob having something like 40+ new dances listed in a day. Now granted there is an understanding that Copperknob’s chief operator George Crutchlow had been on vacation and presumably there will be a backlog of submitted dances as well as an eruption when the gates open back up. This brings us to a realization that there is a more than a regulated amount of new material flowing into the ever infinite collection of line dance choreography.

There was a suggestion that everyone should stop for a period of time before overwhelming the dance world with more dances. Well, we know that’s not going to happen. So how will everyone know what the good dances are and which ones to learn? The answer: let the dance group coordinators do their jobs or take a few tips like the following:

Let us compare this to something I am all too familiar with as a DJ in the mobile industry and Internet radio. Every week I am plummeted with hundreds of songs from multiple sources. They can be from music subscriptions, producers, songwriters, friends recommendations, etc.

How do I pick what I am going to use for radio or the next wedding I DJ? There’s several methods.

1) Some of the best resources are the charts. Somewhere on this planet is a group of professionals that compile a list of hot music. It could be from listener requests, DJ preferences, polls, etc. Great… the work is already done for me!
Line Dance Equivalents: Copperknob’s most viewed list is a decent reference. You’ll get to see what everyone is looking at. Line Dancer (formerly Line Dancer Magazine dot com) has a new system that requires an account log in and purges votes after a month. This system forces users to keep current and active. And as their tastes may change, so will the charts. World Line Dance Newsletter is a weekly survey of dances compiled by dancers.

2) Another selection method is actually sifting through everything. Sometimes I have free time to kill. I may listen to the first verse and chorus of a track and if I am hooked, it will play out. If it does not catch me, on to the next one. Sometimes a real gem is found after actually doing some work… this worked well for the 49er’s and diamond diggers.
Line Dance Equivalents: Window shop. Scroll through the new listings, browse sites, read descriptions. If there is a particular song that I like, I may have to sift through a page & a half (thank you Uptown Funk) to find something I think my group may like.

3) Knowing the Artist. We may all be able to place a good bet that Pitbull, Meghan Trainor and Maroon 5 will have several more hits to come. When those names come across my desk for review of a new song it is almost a guarantee that it will be played at the next party or on air by the next day. Reputation can help dictate success. Maybe it is just popular expectation that Lady Antebellum can do no wrong with anything they put out. Not everyone can do that. (Think Ylvis’ “The Fox”)
Line Dance Equivalents: The now ever infamous Rachael McEnaney! Just about everything she eats, sleeps and (you know what) ends up on a chart, being taught at major events, etc. For good measure we’ll mention John Robinson, Guyton Mundy & Jo Thompson-Szymanski and several others left out. These choreographers have built a solid reputation of producing some really good material. Much of what they put out is worth looking at.
Let us also look at some other reputations with general expectations:
Dan Albro – My go-to guy for partner dances. Beautifully written steps with a good taste in music.
Randy Pelletier – A well loved local guy who is all about keeping it country at a great every day social level.
Frank Trace – Known for getting off the beaten country tracks and putting interesting combinations at a wonderfully simple level to multiple genres of music.
(Yes, there’s a ton of these folks out there. This is just to drive the point about knowing who you like and seeking them out.)

4) Quite often in my radio life, several listeners recommend a song or artist to me. This is great. Not on the chart, something probably not in my pile of endless submissions and another set of ears catching something I may never have found.
Line Dance Equivalent: “Hey Dance Instructor, so-and-so just taught this dance at (wherever) and we all really liked it!” There is nothing quite like having an answer to “what’s next” given to you.

This is all going to depend on your role in the line dance world. If you are the person who is overwhelmed looking at hundreds upon hundreds of dance descriptions and hour, well yeah. You are likely going to hurt your desire to line dance. Maybe just check out the charted material or find a dance instructor that selects things you like.

If you are the person putting together a dance class, event, etc well… welcome to the new age of information technology. What has already hit in music, books, movies, has now hit in line dancing. Everyone is a choreographer and pitching in and we need to sort this out. Our role as Dance Director (radio’s equivalent to Music Director) is to ensure a selection of music and dances that fit our particular group. Like any radio station has a format, so do our dance groups. The strictly country format groups are lucky. They eliminated several of the dances out there already. Yeah, a bit of work but with some experience we know how to get through the mess. That is part of what has made us successful.

Are too many line dances being written now a days? It really does not matter any more. These actions are inevitable and there is no forecast of slowing down. It should be about finding solutions to getting the ones we want played.

– Aric

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One Response to “Whole Lotta Choreography. Maybe Too Much?”

  1. Karlyn says:

    Well said! Lots of dances and songs out there!. We pick and choose according to the charts and personal preferences. Our most important choice is to find a place where we can do them. We are blessed to have found you and Forty as you let us do our thing and even encourage it. Thank you!!

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