Here’s the thing about ballroom music: you’d better like it, because you’re going to be listening to it…A LOT.
We practice. We teach (some of us). We compete. We practice again—many times again! All the while the soundtrack of the studio plays in our heads, sometimes so deeply ingrained we find ourselves humming “Come Fly With Me” while we’re brushing our teeth!
Now, of course we dancers love music, and there’s something to be said for our love of familiarity (dancers lip-syncing during a comp? Happens all the time!), but diversity is a NECESSITY to keep those pesky musical earworms from taking root and becoming unwanted auditory squatters residing in our brains beyond the ballroom.
London-based music producer/dancer DJ Ice (aka Sirawit Ittisoponpisan), understands this. He gets that songs we’ve heard a thousand times can rub our ears as annoyingly as the heel of a new dance shoe can rub a blister. But, also that we want our musical blankies! Songs that we can ANTICIPATE with and EXPRESS with, like a comfy broken-in partnership.
Armed with his dual understanding of both music and dance, it’s no surprise that he’s produced several of the best-selling Latin & Ballroom albums around.
DJ Ice’s talent is in refashioning modern songs you’re probably familiar with, and restyling them into ballroom hits. And Voila!
We get the best of both worlds: melodies and lyrics we know and love, made over with strict tempo beats to create dance-tastic musical hybrids.
His latest album, Very Ballroom 2, delivers once again with 44 tracks to keep your ears and feet happy for hours of productive practice, teaching and inspired competition.
When my hubby, Erik, hears an extraordinary singer, he often says he wishes he could sing like that. I remind him that we can DANCE like that!
But just like it takes beautiful music to bring out those goose-bump thrilling notes from a talented singer, it takes beautiful music to bring out a dancer’s goose-bump thrilling movements.
Dancing to the waltz track “I Dreamed a Dream” (originally from “Les Miserables”), makes my feet feel like what it must be to belt out a soulful melody. DJ Ice takes this beloved song and shapes its structure so any dancer can feel the power of the song through their body.
“Concerning Hobbits” is another favorite. DJ Ice has polished out the original movie version; which was perfect for Hobbits frolicking in the shire but not for sophisticated Waltzers. His rendition creates an ethereal musical plane for your double reverse spins as silky smooth as Orlando Bloom’s Elven hair.
And with 11 other heart-stirring Waltz tracks on the album, you’ll be inspired to practice that long side over and over—without ear fatigue!
In contrast to those gentle Waltzes are 7 powerful Tangos. As a teacher, I really appreciate the clear rhythms DJ Ice puts behind his tangos, making it easy for students of all levels to tune into the timing.
Two particular highlights are “A Sky Full of Stars” & “Assassin’s Creed III”.
Listen, I love Coldplay’s introspective (moody) songs as much as the next person, but their playlist doesn’t immediately spark an inspiration to Tango.
However, DJ Ice manages to hear a flicker of passion in the beautiful melody “A Sky Full of Stars”, give it some Latin machismo and fires it up into an intense Tango. Boom! Maybe this will get Chris Martin out of his introspective funk!
Also of note is “Assassin’s Creed III”. Layers of sound make this Tango deep and complex, like a spicy curry that keeps surprising your palette. It’s like a story-song, taking you on an adventure, which you interpret through the dynamics of your dancing. A good track for working on contrasts and musical interpretation.
Of the 4 Viennese Waltzes on the album, “Domestic Pressures” is a stand out, features lilting arpeggios and scales in a hypnotic refrain.
Satiny and lyrical, the underlying rhythm buoys your legs and feet like a boat riding the waves. The sweet melody has plenty of changes to encourage emotion in this dance which sometimes gets neglected. (Remember it’s 1/5 of your score, so give it some love, Dancers!)
The many moods of Foxtrot don’t escape DJ Ice. He provides 11 selections on Disc 2 of the album, one for every personality you might be feeling in this dance.
The original version of “Maps” is one of those songs that is at the same time both irritating in its incessant repetition BUT also irresistible to NOT sing along with! This Foxtrot is like the fat-free version: all the goodness, none of the annoying stuff. Because of the familiarity, it’s fun to dance to but doesn’t grate on the ears!
Disc 2 finishes up with 11 high energy Quicksteps.
My guilty pleasure? “Thrift Shop”. Who can’t love a song with such ridiculously goofy lyrics? The words put a smile on your face and this tune puts the rhythm in your body. Please, somebody arrange a Quickstep flashmob at the Goodwill to this song! 😂
My second Quickstep top pick circles us back to that idea of familiar songs taking on a musical makeover.
On this album, JLo’s “Let’s Get Loud”, gets restyled from a industrial-strength-Latina-powered-party-anthem Cha Cha into an rockabilly-bebopping-Big-Band-ditty. Who would have seen that coming??!
Although, since your Cha Cha routine and your Quickstep routine both have chasses and locks, this proves again that melodies (as well as dance steps) can be multi-purposed.
Finally, Standard dancers can join the party and get just as loud as the Latin dancers!
Updated Music = Updated Dancing
We love what’s familiar, but let’s face it….it can get boring!
If looking through your music to find something to practice to is as uninspiring as opening your fridge again just to see if there’s “something new”, then you need to update your tunes! (and take a trip to the market!)
On the Very Ballroom 2 album, DJ Ice puts new goodies through your speakers with
songs we love getting fresh, danceable beats and arrangement makeovers.
And we all know that when the music is good, the dancing is too!
Give a listen to the whole album samples right here, and buy your own copy, right here!
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