In the competition world, a small group of musicians has attained almost cultlike status, with choreographers turning to their tracks over and over. We know how we feel about these bangers—there's a reason we can't stop dancing to them—but how do the musicians feel about us? We caught up with three contemporary artists whose music has dominated the competition scene recently, and gauged their reactions to the dances set to their life's work.
Bishop Briggs (photo by Eric Ray Davidson, courtesy Bishop Briggs)
Bishop Briggs<p><span style="background-color: initial;">When Galen Hooks and Tim Milgram released a class video set to Bishop Briggs' "River," it was instantly clear that the song would become a competition </span><span style="background-color: initial;">hit. Since then, choreographers at studios around the country have tried their hand at the song (not to mention the rest of Briggs' music), layering their interpretations</span> on top of her smoky pop beat.</p><p><strong>On discovering her dance-world popularity:</strong> "It's been surreal to find out what people have created out of my music. I'm really active on social media, so when I see dance videos set to my music, I watch them and comment on them. I stalk! I've met people completely out of the blue who've told me they've made a dance to one of my songs. That's the coolest thing."</p><p><strong>On making musical discoveries through choreography:</strong> "There are so many different beats that dancers pick up on that I wouldn't have thought of as the obvious choice. My favorite thing about the dance community is they're giving my songs new life. My original goal as a songwriter was to make people feel less alone. So the idea that dancers are taking a song and using it as their security blanket—or their reason to let go of that blanket and be fully themselves—it's just every dream of mine."</p>
Watch Bishop Briggs React to a Competition Dance Routine Set to "River"<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="67e19c51ddff411123658b02d6283df1"><iframe lazy-loadable="true" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/i2ZYjYF4k20?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span>
Ryan Lott (photo by Zenith Richard, courtesy Ryan Lott)
Ryan Lott of Son Lux<p>Son Lux incorporates elements of post-rock, electronica, hip hop, pop, and even classical—an ideal piece of clay for choreographers to shape. Songs like "Change is Everything," "Dream State," and "Cage of Bones" have blasted through competition speakers so often, we all know each detail by heart. Founder Ryan Lott is no stranger to the dance world, either: He collaborated with Travis Wall on Shaping Sound's show <em>After the Curtain</em>.</p><p><strong>On discovering his dance-world popularity:</strong> "My niece is a dancer, and at one point years ago, my sister told me she kept hearing Son Lux songs at dance competitions. Around that time, my wife, who teaches dance at a university, also observed that auditionees were dancing to Son Lux. Then we started getting requests to use our music on 'So You Think You Can Dance,' and our Instagram started to light up with young dancers moving to our music."</p><p><strong>On how he feels about said popularity: </strong>"I think it's rad! I appreciate anyone who spends their precious time listening to our music. And there's something even more special to me for those who choose to move to it."</p><p><strong>On making musical discoveries </strong><strong>through choreography:</strong> "Happens all the time! It's one of my favorite things about experiencing choreography to my music. Once it's made, it's no longer mine. Music lives its own life apart from its makers, and watching dance to my music often reveals this truth."</p><p><strong>On what makes his music so danceable:</strong> "There's an internal dynamism in Son Lux songs that is relatively uncommon in pop songs. And there are relatively few lyrics in our average song—the instrumental aspects are always doing most of the work. I know a lot of choreographers look for these traits when seeking out new music. I'm not a dancer, but I've been writing music for dance—apart from the Son Lux stuff—for a very long time now. There must be something about movement that has made its way into my creative voice generally, even when I'm not writing explicitly for dance."</p>
Jack Garratt (photo by Jake Wagner, courtesy Jack Garratt)
Jack Garratt<p><span style="background-color: initial;">Dancers around the globe gravitated to Jack Garratt's 2016 "Surprise Yourself," with its powerful message, soaring vocals, and intricate beats. Since then, competition studios have created innumerable pieces to a range of Garratt's songs. And Garratt loves the dance world right back. In fact, his campaign for his latest album, </span><span style="background-color: initial;"><em>Love, Death & Dancing</em>, features eight videos full of him doing nothing but dancing.</span></p><p><strong>On the role dance plays in his music:</strong> "Dance is a hugely important part of the reason I make music. It's always been part of my life, and is an important storytelling method. As someone who makes a form of dance music, the highest compliment I can get is to have someone choreograph to it."</p><p><strong>On his personal relationship with </strong><strong>dance:</strong> "I'm not a trained dancer, but I used to dance when I was a kid. I like music that makes me want to move. Moving is such a vulnerable act."</p><p><strong>On his dance-world popularity:</strong> "I was aware of it a bit, because people tagged me in videos on Instagram, where my songs were being used in dance competitions. They were geo-tagged in different parts of the world that I'd never even been to, let alone known there was an active dance community there."</p>
Watch Jack Garratt React to a Competition Dance Routine Set to "Surprise Yourself"<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="d1c045d8b865466969c09497339585ad"><iframe lazy-loadable="true" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/xtTLuI4gd9Q?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span>
If you're looking for a sign that 2020 might *just* be turning around, look no further than Netflix's new dance-centric film Work It. The movie comes out this Friday, August 7, and the hype is real. ICYMI, the film follows high school senior Quinn Ackerman, played by none other than Sabrina Carpenter, as she attempts to lead her dance team to a competition win in order to bolster her chances of being admitted to the college of her dreams. One small challenge: Quinn isn't a dancer.
Enter Jordan Fisher as Jake Taylor, a talented-but-troubled choreographer and dancer, to help Quinn lead the team. We had the chance to speak with Fisher about his experience on set, and why Work It just might be the dance movie we've all been waiting for.
Fisher with Work It co-star Sabrina Carpenter (Brendan Adam-Zwelling/Netflix)
Our favorite season? Awards season, of course! Congratulations to the six choreographers who received Emmy nominations for their fabulous television work. This year, the Emmys thought outside the usual "So You Think You Can Dance" and "World of Dance" box, and we're delighted to see some of our fave choreographers getting recognition.
Here are all the works up for Emmys this year:
"I'll Be Seeing You," Al Blackstone, "So You Think You Can Dance"<img lazy-loadable="true" src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzUxODcwMi9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYwMjAwMTQwOH0.k7H4BV0GxEsYlgWnrRMotc4Op_tkmijiBOqXWNwEiow/img.jpg?width=980" id="674e8" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="bc545e5cfb3215a6cb619948bc92d701" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
Benjamin Castro and Anna Linstruth in "I'll Be Seeing You" (Adam Rose/FOX)
"Mambo Italiano," Al Blackstone, "So You Think You Can Dance"<img lazy-loadable="true" src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzUxODcxMy9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYzMzg5MDI4Mn0.4wRWLSqWbnPxBOhZn7tscLMALjbc6FakSDwBZb3vBIE/img.jpg?width=980" id="e0507" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="2253e530db308dac46eadecc2d672fe4" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
Koine Iwasaki and Bailey Muñoz in "Mambo Italiano" (Adam Rose/FOX)
"The Girl From Ipanema," Al Blackstone, "So You Think You Can Dance"<img lazy-loadable="true" src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzUxODcyMC9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY1NzQ1OTkyNH0.YxrbwmxgdPG6LcGmnMQ7YkXi4ddqCyTp28I6cQ9tAkc/img.jpg?width=980" id="0ea1b" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="55f8b1295dc59967f7654d2f1faa9f6e" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
Bailey Muñoz and Gino Cosculluela in "The Girl From Ipanema" (Adam Rose/FOX)
"Enough Is Enough," Travis Wall, "So You Think You Can Dance"<img lazy-loadable="true" src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzUxODcyOS9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYxODY0NDU0OX0.qWFlAkJcFCVZrL7qgSPelEN5Yqf-MinhyjPS-NJaoOY/img.jpg?width=980" id="c3975" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="3cfe04f77447dd0e9965589c32778eb7" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
Season 16's Top 10 in "Enough Is Enough"