Amer­i­can dancer urges col­leagues to give J’can cre­ators credit

Jamaica Gleaner - - ENTERTAINMENT - Cur­tis Camp­bell Gleaner Writer en­ter­tain­ment@glean­erjm.com

In the wake of present con­cerns that Ja­maica’s danc­ing cul­ture is be­com­ing more ben­e­fi­cial to for­eign­ers, Amer­i­can dancer-chore­og­ra­pher-teacher Blacka Di Danca has taken a bold stance to en­cour­age fel­low for­eign­ers to give credit to the Ja­maican cre­ators for their work.

Blacka re­cently told The Sun­day Gleaner that the is­sue of giv­ing credit should be a virtue em­braced by ev­ery for­eigner who em­braces Ja­maican cul­ture. The Amer­i­can also en­cour­aged Ja­maican dancers to ex­er­cise pro­fes­sion­al­ism in or­der to cap­i­talise on the op­por­tu­ni­ties that are read­ily avail­able in the field of danc­ing, es­pe­cially since Ja­maican mu­sic is now trend­ing in­ter­na­tion­ally.

“The cul­ture is ex­tremely mar­ketable now over­seas, and this is just from the hard work that ev­ery­body as a col­lec­tive has been putting in – all of the teach­ers trav­el­ling from Ja­maica, all of the teach­ers in Europe, and all over the world. It’s a group ef­fort from ev­ery­body lov­ing the cul­ture of Ja­maica and do­ing their best to spread it. The best way we can cap­i­talise on the dance cul­ture now is to keep do­ing what we are do­ing and mak­ing waves and mak­ing moves. How­ever, we have to be bet­ter or­gan­ised and more pro­fes­sional and be­come small busi­nesses in­stead of treat­ing it like a hobby. Show up to a meet­ing on time; teach your classes on time; and find your niche,” he said.

Blacka Di Danca, has worked with sev­eral in­ter­na­tional artistes in­clud­ing Col­lie Budz, Ma­jor Lazer, Ri­hanna, A$AP Rocky, and Skrillex. He has also taught Ja­maican dance in 23 coun­tries and 60 cities world­wide since 2011. How­ever, he has only per­formed in Ja­maica twice.

De­spite be­ing Amer­i­can, the dancer pointed out that he has stud­ied Ja­maica’s dance cul­ture through the Passa Passa and Dutty Fri­dayz DVDs. He also said his suc­cess comes from giv­ing credit to Ja­maica and spread­ing love since ev­ery­body has one pur­pose, which is progress.

DOM­I­NANT GENRE

Never mind that hip hop is the dom­i­nant genre in the United States, for African Amer­i­cans, Blacka ex­plained that he has been hooked on Ja­maican mu­sic Dr Donna Hope-Mar­quis, se­nior lec­turer, Cul­tural Stud­ies, Univer­sity of the West Indies (UW), Mona Cam­pus.

for years and wants to play a role in giv­ing Ja­maican mu­sic its right­ful re­spect.

“I hope to take dance­hall danc­ing to the high­est level. Hip hop came from dance­hall. dance­hall was around be­fore hip hop, and who cre­ated hip hop? DJ Kool Herc, who is from Ja­maica. You look at th­ese hiphop dancers that draw in­spi­ra­tion from Ja­maican mu­sic. The Tutsi Roll was taken from the But­ter­fly with Dance­hall Queen Car­lene; Lean Back was taken from the Rock Away; Nuh Linga was cre­ated by Ova Marz, and that in­flu­enced the Stanky Leg. So much is taken from the Caribbean and has been trans­lated into Amer­i­can. I was born and raised in Brook­lyn, but I

just feel like Ja­maican mu­sic and life­style have highly in­flu­enced the world. Most EDM mu­sic has sam­pled Ja­maican mu­sic. we should have more Ja­maican mu­sic in movies and ad­ver­tise­ments and not have it trans­lated so the world for­gets that it was taken from Ja­maica,” he said.

He also com­mented on the re­cent at­tempt by some over­seas-based me­dia to white­wash dance­hall mu­sic as a new genre called trop­i­cal house.

“Things like that bother me when Ja­maican dances are taken without credit to the cul­ture, where it is ex­clu­sively in­spired from. There is nowhere else in the world that dance­hall cul­ture is in­spired from but Ja­maica, so

why not let the world un­der­stand?...it’s not trop­i­cal house. it’s dance­hall. They need to un­der­stand where it is com­ing from and say Kingston Ja­maica and re­search and know the names of Bogle, Car­lene, John Hype, Shelly Belly, M.O.B, Bruck Up, Jer­maine Squad, and Passa Passa. I want the world to be aware of dance­hall cul­ture and be­ing Caribbean, in gen­eral,” he said.

Cul­tural An­a­lyst Dr Donna Hope, who is cur­rently im­mersed in the cul­ture of Ja­maican dance as she de­vel­ops con­tent for a new project ti­tled Dance­hall’s Scat­tered Chil­dren, told The Sun­day Gleaner that lo­cal dancers are beg­ging to grasp the art of mar­ket­ing their Blacka Di Danca work in­ter­na­tion­ally. She also said that the youth from the Ja­maican in­ner city and poor com­mu­ni­ties have sur­vived from dance as a grow­ing in­dus­try.

IN­TER­NA­TION­ALLY MAR­KETABLE

“Ja­maican danc­ing is in­ter­na­tion­ally mar­ketable to a sig­nif­i­cant ex­tent. It is al­ready be­ing mar­keted in places like South Amer­ica, Europe, Asia, and Aus­tralia – just about all over the world. The dancers are try­ing to cap­i­talise on the op­por­tu­ni­ties by cre­at­ing new dance steps and try­ing to pro­mote them us­ing por­tals over the in­ter­net.They are build­ing their net­work abroad to show­case their craft, and some of them ac­tu­ally earn a lit­tle some­thing from this ac­tiv­ity. They are us­ing their craft to el­e­vate them­selves ... . many of them are men and women from the in­ner city and poor com­mu­ni­ties in and out­side of Kingston. So this is a way for them to earn some­thing and get ac­cess to for­eign travel,” Hope said.

She also said that she has no is­sues with for­eign­ers teach­ing Ja­maican dance moves as long as they give credit where it is due.

“As long as they recog­nise the source and give credit to the cre­ators, and if there is any kind of re­wards – mon­e­tary or oth­er­wise – that some of it can be repa­tri­ated to the source be­cause many of the peo­ple who orig­i­nate the Ja­maican dance moves are poor youths liv­ing in the Ja­maican ghetto and poor com­mu­ni­ties. “I en­cour­age all for­eign teach­ers to un­der­stand where the cul­ture comes from and make the req­ui­site vis­its to Ja­maica to learn and un­der­stand about the cul­ture and also to read all that has been writ­ten about the cul­ture from which they are bor­row­ing and which is pro­vid­ing them with some kind of ex­pres­sion, en­ter­tain­ment, and in­come,” she added.

Blacka Di Danca was re­cently signed by Red Bull as a dance­hall dancer and has al­ready been teach­ing dance­hall lessons to Red Bull em­ploy­ees. He also re­vealed that he teaches all his stu­dents about Ja­maican pro­tag­o­nists in the dance field.

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