Tips for Selecting Music for Your Contemporary Dance Performance


The process of selecting music for a contemporary dance performance can be a daunting task. With so many genres and styles to choose from, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and unsure of where to start. However, choosing the right music is crucial to enhancing the quality and impact of your dance performance. So, it’s important to take the time to carefully consider your options and make informed decisions. In this article, we will guide you step-by-step through the process of choosing the right music for your contemporary dance performance. From understanding your choreography and theme to exploring different genres and styles, we’ll provide you with practical tips and considerations to help you create a cohesive and impactful performance.

Why Music is Important for Contemporary Dance

The Importance of Music for Contemporary Dance

Music is an integral part of any form of dance, and contemporary dance is no exception. Music helps to set the mood and tone of the performance, adding emotional depth and texture to the movements. The right music can enhance the choreography, making it more evocative and memorable.

Music and Choreography

Contemporary dance is a highly expressive and fluid dance form that allows for a great deal of artistic freedom. Choreographers often create movements that flow seamlessly with the music, and sometimes even build the choreography around the music.

Music and Theme

In addition to matching the choreography, the music must also complement the theme and mood of the performance. For example, a contemporary dance piece that explores loneliness and isolation might be best set to atmospheric electronic music, while a performance about the joy of life and being in the moment might be better suited to upbeat pop music.

Music and Audience

The choice of music can have a significant impact on the audience’s perception of the performance. Demographic factors like age range and cultural and ethical sensitivities must be taken into consideration. For example, a performance with mature themes might not be appropriate for young children, and music with explicit lyrics might not be suitable for all audiences.

Music and Practical Considerations

Other factors that must be taken into consideration include the length and timing of the performance, and whether the music needs to be edited or mixed. Additionally, legal and copyright issues must be addressed, to ensure that permission has been obtained to use the music.

Music and Refining your Selection

Choosing the right music is not always easy, and may require trial and error. Working with music experts can also be extremely helpful, as they can provide valuable insight and expertise. Ultimately, the right music can elevate a contemporary dance performance from good to great, and leave a lasting impression on the audience.

Understanding Your Choreography and Theme

Understanding Your Choreography And Theme
When it comes to choosing the right music for your contemporary dance performance, it’s important to first understand the choreography and theme. Contemporary dance is a form of expressive dance that incorporates elements from various techniques and styles, and often focuses on emotions and personal experiences. Understanding the specific moves and overall message of your choreography, as well as the intended theme of your performance, will help you select music that enhances and complements your dance. Whether you’re exploring the history and techniques of contemporary dance, discovering famous choreographers and their contributions, or considering the role of costumes and lighting, it’s important to approach the process of choosing music with both artistic and practical considerations.

Matching Music to Choreography

Matching the right music to your choreography is a crucial part of creating a successful contemporary dance performance. The music sets the tone and enhances the emotional impact of your movements. It’s important to select music that complements and works in harmony with your choreography. Here are some tips for matching music to your choreography:

Tip Description
Listen to the music first Before creating your choreography, choose a few music options and listen carefully to them. Pay attention to the tempo, rhythm and overall feeling of the music. This will help you to identify the best music for your dance piece.
Take note of the counts and beats Plan out your choreography to match the music. Identify where the counts and beats fall in the music and structure your movements accordingly. This will help to create a cohesive and synchronized performance.
Consider the dynamics of the music Think about the loudness, quietness or intensity of the music. This can affect the mood or tone of your choreography. For example, you might want to use a slow, soft piece of music for a more emotional or reflective performance.
Think about the phrasing of the music Pay attention to the music’s phrasing and structure. Try to align your choreography with the highs and lows of the music. This can create a sense of tension and release in your performance.
Use music as inspiration for movement Let the music inspire your movements. Experiment with different ways of interpreting the music, such as exploring the use of space, different levels or changing dynamics. This can create a unique and engaging contemporary dance performance.

Remember to choose music that perfectly matches your choreography and enhances the overall impact of your performance. By taking the time to consider and test different music options, you can produce a memorable and impactful contemporary dance piece.

Matching Music to Theme and Mood

When it comes to choosing the right music for your contemporary dance performance, it is essential to match the music to the theme and mood of your performance to create a cohesive and immersive experience for your audience. Here are some important factors to consider:

1. Genre: Different genres of music can evoke different emotions and moods. For example, classical music may be more appropriate for a performance with a formal or traditional theme, while electronic or ambient music may be better suited for a more modern or abstract theme. Consider the style of your choreography as well as the setting and message you want to convey through your performance.

2. Tempo: The tempo, or pace, of the music can also greatly influence the mood of your performance. You may wish to choose a slower tempo for a more melancholy or introspective theme, while a faster tempo can create a sense of excitement and energy.

3. Instrumentation: The type and combination of instruments used in the music can also affect the mood of your performance. For example, a piano and violin duet may be more suited for a romantic theme, while a synthesizer and drum machine may be more fitting for a futuristic or industrial theme.

4. Lyrics: If you choose to use a song with lyrics, be sure to analyze the meaning and message behind the lyrics, as they can add depth and context to your performance. Lyrics can also be used to convey a specific emotion or message that may be difficult to express through movement alone.

It’s important to keep in mind that the music should enhance and support the choreography and theme of your performance, rather than overshadow or detract from it. Consider discussing your music choices with your choreographer or other members of your creative team to get their feedback and ensure that your music selection aligns with your overall vision for your performance.

To learn more about contemporary dance techniques, moves, and tips for beginners, check out our other articles on Contemporary Dance Tips for Beginners.

Exploring Different Genres and Styles

Exploring Different Genres And Styles
As a choreographer or dancer, you may already have an idea of what style or genre of music you want to use for your contemporary dance piece. However, expanding your musical horizons and exploring different genres and styles can provide more depth and creativity to your performance. Choosing the right music can enhance the emotions and intensity of your choreography, giving your audience a more dynamic experience. From classical music to electronic and ambient sounds, each genre has its unique qualities to suit your performance. Let’s dive into different styles and genres of music that can elevate your contemporary dance performance. If you want to learn more about contemporary dance techniques, moves, and history, you can check the internal html link to (the) history of contemporary dance.

Classical Music

When thinking of classical music for your contemporary dance performance, you may want to consider the works of famous composers such as Bach, Beethoven, Tchaikovsky, or Chopin. Their compositions are usually complex and can provide a range of emotions and moods that can fit well with various choreographic styles.

One potential benefit of using classical music is its ability to provide a strong rhythmic structure, which can be useful when creating choreography. For example, a waltz by Chopin can be an excellent choice for a contemporary ballet piece that explores graceful movements and fluidity.

On the other hand, some classical pieces can be quite ominous or dramatic, making them suitable for more intense, emotional works that delve into darker themes. For instance, a piece like Beethoven’s “Moonlight Sonata” may be perfect for a solo performance that showcases melancholy and anguish.

If you decide to go with a classical piece, be sure to choose one that fits well with your choreography and theme. You can also consider different arrangements or interpretations of the music to make it more suitable for your contemporary dance performance.

Classical music can add a touch of elegance and sophistication to your performance, but it’s important to carefully choose the right composition that matches your vision as a choreographer.

Electronic and Ambient Music

Electronic and Ambient music can add an exciting and unique element to your contemporary dance performance. With a focus on instrumental sounds, these genres often feature electronic music equipment as the primary instrument. Ambient music, on the other hand, is characterized by its atmospheric and often repetitive nature, making it perfect for slower, more introspective routines.

When selecting electronic and ambient music for your performance, consider the tempo and rhythm of the songs. Strong percussive beats and fast-paced rhythms can create a sense of urgency and excitement, while slower tempos and more ethereal-sounding tracks can be used to evoke emotions such as calmness and introspection.

Some popular Electronic and Ambient artists include:

Artist Genre/Sub-Genre
Brian Eno Ambient, Experimental, Electronic
Jon Hopkins Electronic, Ambient, Experimental
Nils Frahm Ambient, Experimental, Electronic
Max Cooper Electronic, Experimental

When incorporating Electronic and Ambient music into your choreography, make sure to keep the style of your movements in mind. These genres can work well with more abstract and experimental contemporary dance techniques and moves. Consider including improvisation and partnering work as well, to fully showcase the unique qualities of the music.

In conclusion, Electronic and Ambient music can add a fresh and unique element to your contemporary dance performance. With a focus on instruments such as synthesizers and electronic music equipment, these genres can evoke emotions ranging from excitement and urgency to introspection and calmness. Incorporating electronic music into your choreography can work well with more abstract and experimental movements, allowing for a truly unique and memorable performance.

Pop, Rock and Alternative Music

When it comes to pop, rock, and alternative music, it’s crucial to consider the lyrics and the overall energy of the music. Pop music may seem like an obvious choice for contemporary dance with its upbeat and catchy tunes. However, it may not always be the best match for the choreography and theme. It’s important to listen carefully to the lyrics and decide if they are appropriate for the message you are trying to convey. Some pop songs may be overplayed and lose their impact on the audience. It’s essential to stay away from cliched music and choose something unique and memorable.

Rock and alternative music can be powerful choices for contemporary dance, as they often have a strong emotional impact. These genres usually feature raw vocals, distorted guitars and drums that can give a sense of tension and release, which can be a perfect fit for contemporary dance performance. These types of music can be great for conveying deep emotions and bring a sense of rebellion or empowerment. However, not every rock song is suitable for every contemporary dance performance. It’s essential to choose the right tempo, rhythm, and feel that matches the choreography and theme. Some of the most popular rock and alternative bands are Radiohead, Muse or Arcade Fire.

Consider the overall mood and message of the performance before selecting a song. Strong lyrics from an alternative artist like Fiona Apple can be both empowered or used to express vulnerability. They can also help set the tone for a contemporary interpretation of a theme or express a philosophical thought with a blend of punk rock and spoken word performance. Whatever your preferred genre, make sure that your music matches your movements while also speaking to your audience.

If you want to read more articles about contemporary dance, please click on Contemporary Dance Self-Expression.

Considering the Audience

Considering The Audience
As a contemporary dance performer, choosing the right music is a crucial aspect of creating a powerful and engaging performance. However, it’s not just about what you like, but also what your audience will appreciate. Considering the Audience is an important factor in selecting music that will resonate with them, both emotionally and culturally. Whether you’re performing for a specific demographic or following a certain theme, understanding the preferences and sensibilities of your audience can enhance the impact of your dance. To learn more about contemporary dance and its techniques, movements, and benefits for the mind and body, check out /contemporary-dance-techniques-moves/.

Demographics and Age Range

It is important to consider the demographics and age range of your audience when selecting music for a contemporary dance performance. The music that you choose should be appropriate for the age range of your audience and should also appeal to their tastes and preferences. Here is a breakdown of how different age groups may respond to music:

Age Group Music Preferences
Young Children (Under 10) Simple, upbeat, and catchy tunes with lyrics that are easy to follow
Tweens and Teens (10-19) Popular music genres such as pop, hip-hop, electronic dance music (EDM), and rock
Young Adults (20-39) A mix of popular and experimental genres including indie, alternative, and underground music
Adults (40-59) A mix of new and old popular music genres such as classic rock, country, and contemporary pop
Seniors (60+) Music from the 1950s-1970s, classical music, and traditional folk songs

It’s important to keep in mind that these are just general guidelines, and individuals within each age range may have different musical tastes. Additionally, the demographics of your audience, such as their cultural backgrounds and personal experiences, may influence their reactions to different types of music. Consider exploring these influences and how they relate to contemporary dance by checking out our article on cultural influences in contemporary dance.

By selecting music that resonates with your audience, you can enhance their overall experience and make your performance more memorable. Remember, the right music can have a significant impact on the success of your contemporary dance performance.

Cultural and Ethical Sensitivities

When selecting the right music for a contemporary dance performance, it is important to consider cultural and ethical sensitivities. This involves being aware of any potential offense or discomfort that may be caused by certain types of music. For instance, music that contains explicit language or promotes violence may be inappropriate for certain audiences. It is important to remember that your performance may be viewed by different age groups, ethnicities, and cultures, so you need to be sensitive to their values and beliefs.

One way to help avoid cultural and ethical issues is to consult with members of the community who have a better understanding of cultural norms and practices. This can help you identify any sensitive themes, symbols, or gestures that you may have overlooked. For example, certain religious music or cultural styles may be inappropriate for a particular performance that could be offensive to the religion or culture in question. Consulting with others can help you determine whether the music you’ve selected is appropriate for your audience and aligns with your choreography and theme.

Another way to address cultural and ethical sensitivities is to use music that represents diversity and respect for different cultures. This can be achieved by incorporating music from different cultures and ethnicities, which could add richness and meaning to your performance. By incorporating diverse music, you can also showcase the power of unity and collective participation, which can make your performance inclusive and welcoming.

Additionally, consider the costumes, lighting, and other artistic elements that accompany your performance, and how they may complement or contradict with the music selection. If the costumes or lighting elict cultural sensitivities, it should be addressed too. For a better understanding of the role of costumes and lighting in a contemporary dance performance, read more about it by clicking on this link.

Being conscious of cultural and ethical sensitivities is an essential element when choosing the right music for your contemporary dance performance. By keeping diversity and inclusivity at the forefront of your mind and consulting with experts, you can create a beautiful and socially responsible performance.

Practical Considerations

Practical Considerations
When it comes to preparing for a contemporary dance performance, the practical aspects of music selection are just as important as the creative aspects. There are a number of factors to consider in order to ensure that the music chosen for the performance is appropriate and effective. These include the length and timing of the music, the possibility of editing and mixing, and any legal or copyright issues. While it may not be the most glamorous aspect of the creative process, paying close attention to these practical considerations can make all the difference in the success of the final product. To fully appreciate the practical aspects of contemporary dance, it’s crucial to understand the ways in which it benefits the mind and body. Learn more about this in our article on the benefits of contemporary dance for the mind and body.

Length and Timing

Length and Timing: As you select music for your contemporary dance performance, it is essential to pay attention to the length of the track and its timing. In general, a contemporary dance performance is between 15 and 20 minutes long, with different dancers performing various pieces in that timeframe. You don’t want your music to feel rushed or drag on, so choose carefully. When choosing the right music, it is also necessary to have an idea of how much time is available for the performance and how long the choreography will last. It is best to select a song that is slightly longer than needed, to allow for any unexpected changes or delays during the performance.

To ensure that the music flows seamlessly with the choreography, it may be necessary to make adjustments to the timing or length of the track. You can add or cut parts of a song as per the requirements and accordingly match it to the dance performance. However, it is necessary to ensure that the essence of the music and the story or theme of the performance stays intact during this process.

It is also advisable to consult or work with an experienced music editor who can help with splicing and seamlessly blending different tracks into one cohesive piece. This is particularly useful if you are creating a medley of songs or a mashup that you want to use as the backdrop to your dance performance.

Legal and Copyright Issues: It is essential to be aware of legal and copyright issues when using music for your contemporary dance performances. Using copyrighted music without permission can land you in serious trouble, and it is essential to have the necessary licenses and permissions in place before using a piece of music.

One way to avoid these issues is to use royalty-free music, where the composer has already granted permission to use their work in various media platforms for a one-time fee or as per the license agreement. Another way is to create original music that is unique to your performance. This method requires collaboration between the choreographer and the composer, but it ensures that there are no legal or copyright issues in the future.

Paying attention to the length, timing, and legal issues is crucial when choosing music for your contemporary dance performance. By following these guidelines, you can create an unforgettable and immersive experience for your audience while ensuring that the music complements and enhances the stunning choreography. Additionally, you can always refine and improve your music selection through methods such as trial and error or seeking guidance from music experts.

Editing and Mixing Music

Editing and Mixing Music is an important process that directly affects the final performance of the piece. It involves choosing the right parts of the music track, adjusting the volume, and transitioning between different songs or sections of a song. The goal is to create a seamless and coherent soundtrack that enhances the choreography and engages the audience. Here are some tips to consider when editing and mixing music for a contemporary dance performance:

Tip Description
Use proper software and equipment The right tools can make the editing and mixing process more efficient and effective. Use a software program that allows you to manipulate the music tracks in detail, and invest in quality equipment such as speakers and headphones that give you a clear and accurate sound.
Align the music with the movement Make sure that the music matches the rhythm, tempo, and dynamics of the choreography. This will help create a sense of synchronization and flow, and avoid any awkward pauses or abrupt changes in movement.
Consider the structure of the music Understand how the song is composed and identify its different sections such as the intro, verse, chorus, bridge, and outro. Use this knowledge to decide which parts of the song to use and which to cut, and where to create seamless transitions.
Experiment with different arrangements Try different combinations of songs and sections, and listen to the music in context with the movement to see how it fits. Be open to creative and unexpected choices, but also be mindful of the overall coherence and impact of the music selection.
Check the technical details Ensure that the volume levels are consistent across different tracks and sections, and eliminate any background noise or glitches. Also, make sure that the music is properly mixed for the performance venue, taking into account factors such as acoustics and sound systems.
Consider copyright issues Be aware of the legal and ethical implications of using copyrighted music in your performance. It is generally safer to use royalty-free music or to obtain permission from the copyright holder.

Another important aspect to consider when editing and mixing music for contemporary dance is improvisation. Some choreographers may incorporate improvisation into the choreography, which requires the music to be able to adapt to the spontaneous movements of the dancers. In such cases, the music editing and mixing should take into account the possibility of unpredictable changes in rhythm, tempo, and mood.

The editing and mixing of music is a complex and creative process that requires careful attention to detail and a deep understanding of the choreography, theme, and audience. By following the tips and guidelines described in this article, you can enhance the performance and create a memorable and impactful experience for the viewers.

Legal and Copyright Issues

When selecting music for your contemporary dance performance, it is crucial to consider legal and copyright issues to avoid any potential legal complications. Here are some important points to keep in mind:

  • Choosing music in the public domain: Public domain music is free from copyright restrictions, as the copyright has expired or the work was created before copyright laws were established. This type of music can be found on various websites that offer free music downloads.
  • Obtaining permission: If you want to use modern or popular songs, you need to obtain permission from the artist or record label first. This can be a time-consuming process, and some artists may refuse permission or require payment for the use of their music.
  • Using royalty-free music: Royalty-free music is an alternative to copyrighted music. It can be used for commercial purposes without needing to obtain permission from the creator or pay for the rights to use it.
  • Avoiding plagiarism: It is essential to avoid plagiarism by ensuring that the music you use is original and not copied. Plagiarism can lead to legal lawsuits and can tarnish the reputation of the choreographer and the dancers.

If you plan to record or sell your performance, you will need to obtain specific licenses and permissions to avoid legal proceedings. It is best to work with a lawyer specializing in this field to ensure that you have all necessary legal documentation. Remember to prioritize legal and copyright issues to prevent any legal problems that could harm your production or reputation.

Reference: Famous Choreographers Contributions to Contemporary Dance.

Rehearsing and Refining Your Music Selection

As the saying goes, practice makes perfect. And when it comes to choosing the right music for your contemporary dance performance, rehearsing and refining your music selection is crucial for ensuring a seamless and captivating performance. This is the part of the process where you get to experiment and fine-tune your chosen music, taking into account your choreography, theme, and audience. In this phase, trial and error methods are often employed, and working with music experts can help elevate the quality of your performance. Let’s delve deeper into the ways you can rehearse and refine your music selection to create a truly mesmerizing contemporary dance experience.

Trial and Error Methods

One of the most effective ways to select the right music for your contemporary dance performance is through trial and error methods. This involves experimenting with different types of music and seeing which works best for your choreography and theme.

To begin, start by selecting a few different music options that you think may work well with your dance. Play each of these options with your choreography and see how they match up. Analyze each segment of your dance and determine how each piece of music affects the mood, tempo, and overall feel of your performance.

Once you have tested each music option, take note of which worked the best and which failed to create the desired effect. You may need to adjust your choreography based on the music you choose, so be willing to make some changes if necessary.

Another way to use trial and error methods is to perform in front of others and gather feedback. Invite a few friends or colleagues to watch your rehearsal and ask for their honest opinions about your music choices. If they suggest a different type of music, give it a try and see if it works better than your original choice.

It’s important to remember that trial and error methods can take time and patience. Don’t get discouraged if it takes several attempts to find the perfect music. Keep experimenting and revising until you find the right match for your choreography and theme.

Working with Music Experts

Working with music experts can be a valuable resource in selecting the right music for your contemporary dance performance. They can offer guidance on various genres, styles, and mood elements of music that can complement your choreography and theme. Here are some important points to consider when working with a music expert:

Point Description
Expertise Make sure the music expert you work with is experienced in the type of dance and performance art you specialize in.
Collaborate Communicate your vision for the performance with the music expert and be open to their suggestions and opinions. A collaborative approach can lead to a more successful outcome.
Budget Be transparent about your budget so the expert can recommend music options that align with your financial constraints.
Licensing Ensure that the music expert is aware of and adheres to legal guidelines regarding music licensing.
Experimentation Don’t be afraid to try new things and experiment with different musical styles and genres with the expert’s guidance. It can lead to discovering something unique and original.

Working with a music expert can provide valuable insights and perspectives that can elevate your contemporary dance performance to new heights. Remember to approach the collaboration with an open mind and clear communication to achieve the desired outcome.


In conclusion, choosing the right music for your contemporary dance performance can be a daunting task but it is crucial to the success of your performance. It is important to consider your choreography and theme when selecting music that will complement and enhance your dance routine.

Exploring different genres and styles can help you find the perfect music that matches the mood and emotions that you want to convey to your audience. Don’t forget to consider your audience demographics and cultural sensibilities when making your music selection.

Practical considerations such as length, timing, and legal issues should also be taken into account when deciding on your music. Rehearsing and refining your music selection is key to creating a polished and impactful performance.

You may encounter challenges in your music selection process, but there is no need to despair. Trial and error methods can be successful, as can working with music experts who can offer their expertise and guidance in making the right musical choices.

In the end, the most important aspect to keep in mind when selecting music for your contemporary dance performance is to ensure that the music elevates your dance into a transcendent and unforgettable experience for your audience. With careful consideration and attention to detail, you can create a musical score that will take your dance to new heights.

Preguntas frecuentes

Question 1?

How important is music for contemporary dance performances?


Music is crucial for a contemporary dance performance, as it sets the tone, mood, and tempo of the choreography.

Question 2?

What should I consider when choosing music for a contemporary dance performance?


You should consider the choreography and theme, different genres and styles of music, the audience, practical considerations such as length and timing, and legal issues.

Question 3?

What is the importance of matching music to choreography?


Matching music to choreography is crucial, as it helps to highlight the movements and emotions meant to be conveyed in dance.

Question 4?

How do I match music to a theme and mood?


Choosing music that corresponds with the theme and mood of the dance helps to emphasize movements while evoking emotions in the audience.

Question 5?

What are some different genres and styles of music to explore for contemporary dance performances?


Classical music, electronic and ambient music, and pop, rock, and alternative music are all possible genres and styles to consider and experiment.

Question 6?

Why should I consider the audience when choosing music for a contemporary dance performance?


Considering the audience demographic, age range, cultural and ethical sensitivities, can ensure the maximum positive energy transfer, longevity of impact, and audience satisfaction.

Question 7?

What are some practical considerations when choosing music for a contemporary dance performance?


Practical considerations might include the length and timing of the music, editing and mixing techniques, legal and copyright issues.

Question 8?

Should I rehearse with the chosen music for a contemporary dance performance?


Yes, rehearsing with the selected music is advised to ensure proper synchronization between the dance and music.

Question 9?

How can I refine my music selection for a contemporary dance performance?


You can try trial and error methods, work with music experts, listen for feedback, and adjust accordingly.

Question 10?

What should I keep in mind when editing and mixing music for a contemporary dance performance?


You must work with the artist’s permission, make sure to adequately synch the sound to the movements, and ensure a smooth and seamless transition between tracks.


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