The Dos and Don’ts of Choosing Routine Music: Pom Edition

University of Minnesota from Minneapolis, MN

University of Minnesota from Minneapolis, MN

I get asked for music advice a lot by friends and colleagues. As a choreographer and avid music fan, I’ve always believed that choosing routine music should be given your utmost attention and best effort.

Music can make or break your routine. It will enhance your choreography or leave you floundering, make you stand out or have you disappear into the masses, engage your audience and the judges or have them falling asleep. Here’s my list of dos and don’ts for choosing songs to go into your pom routine mix:

DO use different genres. This is my number one tip for keeping a routine fresh and engaging! Mix up your genres. The songs should still blend well (your DJ will take care of that) but add variety – avoid using all pop songs, all hip hop songs or all anything songs.

DON’T Google “good music for dancing”, “what’s the best music for a pom routine” or anything similar – you won’t find anything useful or original, we’ve all tried. Unless of course it’s led you to this post!

DO let your iTunes play on shuffle for a while. This is one of my favorite ways to rediscover great songs that’ve slipped my mind over time. Another fun thing to do is identify which of your friends have great or unique taste in music and commandeer their iTunes.

DON’T use anything that’s currently on the radio or might be on the radio later in the season. The radio is for singing along in your car or in the shower, not the competition floor. We all know what it’s like to hear the same song 10+ times at a competition and it’s never pleasant. Don’t be one of those teams.

DO look for inspiration abroad. What are people at other corners of the globe listening to right now? This is where the internet will be useful. My favorite music-savvy hot spots are the UK, France, Australia and South Korea (K-Pop is pom gold).

Academy of Holy Angels from Demarest, NJ

Academy of Holy Angels from Demarest, NJ

DON’T use a theme. It’s lazy and limits your music options. If your theme is just ‘winning’ or ‘being the best’ in general and you have the skills to back up such a claim, go for it. But if your theme is colors of the rainbow, heartbreak, various weather conditions or Michael Jackson – don’t do it.

DO use rock music. Rock music speeds up really well but nobody uses it enough. I don’t know why – I’m a big fan. Everything from pop rock to hair metal, classic rock to country – it’s all fun and sounds great!

DON’T use anything you’ve danced to in a club on a night out. Just don’t. Club bangers are not pom music. This includes dubstep.

DO use a song or two that people will know and say “Oh, I love this song!” Being fresh and original is the overall goal but you don’t want to be too obscure. This is a great opportunity to pull out those newly rediscovered tunes from a few years ago or a well-known-but-not-overplayed classic.

DON’T use anything with overtly violent, abusive, derogatory, sexist, sexual (or inappropriate in any way) lyrics or connotations. This is a family event – you have little girls watching you and looking up to you not only in the crowd but also, thanks to YouTube and social media, thousands of miles away on their computers. Be a good role model – we’re collectively shaping the future of our sport and the type of athletes and young women it produces.

Do you have any other tips for choosing songs to go into a pom routine mix? Let me know!

Try This: Pirouette X-Out

The X-out is a fun way to exit a pirouette or turn sequence. It’s great because it looks impressive and ambitious but is easy to execute! It can be used en masse for impact (in which case synchronization is key) or by only some dancers to create an instant level change and dynamic visual effect.

Here’s the skill demonstrated by Melbourne Cheer Academy from Melbourne, Australia.

5 Master Tips for Perfecting Toe Touches

North Dakota State University from Fargo, ND

North Dakota State University from Fargo, ND

You’ve heard all the usuals before – point your toes, keep your back straight, strong arms – but here are 5 easy-to-miss tips for perfecting toe touches!

1) Jump through your toes. Lots of dancers have a habit of releasing their toes from the floor during their prep and then jumping from the balls of their feet. This limits your height so be sure to check that you’re jumping (and landing) through your toes – they should be the last thing to leave the floor on the way up and the first to return on the way down!

2) Snap down. You should be snapping your legs up to hit your toe touch but don’t forget to snap down as well. How you come out of the skill is just as important as how you get into it! Remembering to snap your legs down after you hit the top of your jump will make the skill stronger, cleaner and sharper.

3) Look up. Keeping a spot above eye-level throughout the skill will help you maintain a nice straight back and we want to see your face not the top of your head.

4) Turn out from your hips. You want to prep and land parallel but make sure you’re rotating from your hips while on the way up so that you’re fully turned out at the top of the jump. Turning out from the hips gives your legs a much greater range of motion and will also help to keep your back straight. If you have a habit of sticking your bottom out behind you in your toe touches you’re probably not turning out from your hips – problem solved!

5) Engage your core. It’s easy to do this in your prep but remember to engage your core throughout the entire skill – prep, jump and landing. This will ensure that your toe touch is controlled and lowers the risk of injury.

Did you find these tips helpful?