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 Performances
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 an form, I will usually edit it so that it's goes . 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: http://ballroomdancemusic.info/Rhythm/index.htm
I'll add more to this topic later, but I've got to run to teach a class right now:)