Adding Musicality to Your Dancing

The YouTube series, "Music for Dancers", by Don Baarns will help you understand music on a deeper level. This will help with your rhythm, timing and help you anticipate what will happen next in a song you never heard before. It's focus is salsa music, but the concepts apply to all music.

Another cool resource for the rhythmically challenged salsa, mambo or merengue dancer is the Salsa Beat Machine. There is a mobile phone app you can purchase, but the desktop/laptop version is free. Make sure you check out the visualizer feature. You can turn on and off and change the various instruments and their rhythems to train your ears to distinguish each instrument's role in the music. It's a great way to practice your "On1" and "On2" timing.

Editing Your Music For PerformancesMUSIC

When editing music for a solo performance to a single song remember to "KISS" (Keep It Short and Sweet). I tell all of my clients to edit their music down to 1.5 to 2 minutes- at most. You will be surprised at how long that seems when all eyes are on you. When you watch professional ballroom dancers competing on television, do you notice how they fade their music out after about a minute and a half? Five minutes of the same song gets boring to watch even when you are watching professional dancers. The last thing you want is for everyone watching to be grinning politely through their teeth thinking, “Is this song ever going to end?"

Before I begin editing a song, I always print out the lyrics. This gives me a better understanding of the structure of the song and alerts me to repeated words that I can splice together to make a cut mid phrase. When possible, I like to use the real beginning of the song and the real ending. Usually I cut out a big middle chunk so there is only one cut in the song. Most often I tack on the ending mid word, towards the end of the second phrase. For example, if the song is written in anAABA form, I will usually edit it so that it's goes AA. I use the free user friendly program Audacity to edit all my music.

Finding Dance Music

It's important that the music you use to practice is the correct rhythm, stlye and speed for the dance you are working on.

Here's a good resourse to get you started:

Popular tempo recommendations for various types of dances are as follows:

International Standard

84-93 BPM
120-132 BPM
Viennese Waltz
150-180 BPM
Slow Foxtrot
112-120 BPM
192-208 BPM

American Smooth

84-96 BPM
120-132 BPM
120-136 BPM
Viennese Waltz
150-180 BPM

International Latin

Cha Cha
112-128 BPM
96-104 BPM
96-112 BPM
Paso Doble
112-124 BPM
152 -176 BPM

American Rhythm

Cha Cha
112-128 BPM
120 - 144 BPM
East Coast Swing
124-142 BPM
96-104 BPM
188-204 BPM


Triple Two
88 - 100 BPM
104-124 BPM
Nightclub Two-Step
54-64 BPM
Cha Cha
96-118 BPM
76-98 BPM
Two Step
168-200 BPM
East Coast Swing
124-142 BPM
West Coast Swing
102-114 BPM

Hustle 104-121 BPM
Merengue 58-64 BPM
Salsa 150-250 BPM
Pony Swing 102 - 116 BPM
Shuffle (Ft. Worth Shuffle) 102 - 114
Schottische 120 - 132
Rhythm Two 148 - 160
Peabody 240 - 248

Check back for more as I will be adding more to this page.