Dance Around the World: Dancehall
For today’s entry, I will be covering a dance style very near and dear to my heart: dancehall. I am not quite sure if I have mentioned this before, however for three years in college, I choreographed routines for the Caribbean Students Association dance group. It was definitely one of my favorite activities.
The dance culture in the Caribbean is very vibrant and is closely paired with the music. One of the most popular dance styles is called dancehall. If you are not familiar with dancehall, you should know that it is first and foremost a music genre. The name “dancehall” emerged because many of the records were deemed “unfit” for radio airplay and could only be played in the spaces where people would gather to dance, also known as dancehalls. It was only during the 2000s that musicians really started pairing dance moves with their songs.
Some of the most popular dancehall moves, including the willy bounce and sweep, were created by the prolific Elephant Man. This article does a great job of higlighting some of the famous dancehall moves and the songs that accompany them. Also, if you look them How Fi Dance Reggae on YouTube, there is a list of great video tutorials. I will admit that I learned a few things from watching those…
You may (or may not) be surprsied to learn that hip hop has been greatly influence by dancehall, especially over the past decade. You can certainly here it in the music but you can also see it in the dance as well. For example, the butterfly was originally a dancehall move. Beyoncé twirling her hair around in circles during the superbowl… it’s called the dutty wine and is one of the most popular moves that has emerged from the genre.
Unfortunaly, dancehall music now is very contentious. The increasingly homophobic, violent, and/or misogynistic lyrics has caused dancehall to sit on the back burner in the world music scene. There is a movment happening that seeks to change the nature of the lyrics. We shall see if it is successful.
The two videos I am highlighting today are great examples of dancehall. The first one entitled the Precision Wine lets you know the name of each move the dancers are executing. The second video is one of the routines I choreographed for my dance group. This is my blog so self-promotion is allowed… I could only find the recording from dress rehearsal so I apologize it isn’t the best. I hope it is fun to watch though!