Words by Blacka Di Danca
Dancers, regardless of dance style, are very competitive. Now, add a beloved and highly protected culture like dancehall–and that infamous Caribbean aggression–and you have a different type of competitiveness.
Over the past few years, as the boom of dancehall workshops has spread our culture’s dances worldwide, Jamaican and European dancehall dancers have even found themselves in some small feuds over dancehall culture. As we all know, dancehall comes from Jamaica, but the spirit of the music and dance has infected people worldwide. Dancehall has had a very delicate structure for the past 20-plus years, and it’s not a structure that’s easily mimicked. These feuds have concerned non-Jamaican/Caribbean dancers teaching dancehall dances incorrectly without interest in learning them the correct way, and subsequently teaching them the correct way. Some dancers from both sides even vowed to never teach dances from the opposite culture. But now, is there hope of a unified dancehall?
Popular dancehall duo RDX plan on releasing a new music video for their song “Foot A Talk,” which was produced by New York-based Juss Kool. They’ve asked that dancers worldwide learn the dance and create a short dance video to be submitted to them for inclusion in the video. SO, why is this a big deal? The dance is created by a Russian dancer!!! But wait… are you hearing right? Jamaican dancehall artists creating dance songs to dances created by Europeans??? Yes! A unified dancehall!
Jiff Di Bossman is a dancer in Russia originally from the island of Haiti. Jiff and his wife, Anna, organize some of the biggest dancehall camps worldwide, known as Big Up Kemp. Big Up Production books dancehall instructors from Jamaica, USA, France and many other countries worldwide for week-long dancehall workshops that usually last more than six hours a day.They’ve been organizing these dancehall camps for the past few years in Russia, France and, now this year, Argentina!
I met Jiff and Anna when I was touring as a solo dancer with Collie Buddz in 2011. Anna sent me an email inviting me to teach dancehall workshops in Moscow, Russia on Christmas day. A day after that life-changing e-mail, I was sent a plane ticket to Moscow, and a month after that, I boarded the plane and taught my first dancehall workshops in Europe in 2011.
Now, to see the seeds that I planted in Russia three years ago grow to help manifest into a Russian and Jamaican collaboration of this caliber is amazing and makes all of my travels worth it!
The work that I have put in as a dancehall instructor, along with the work of the many other instructors worldwide, is all very important. Dancehall needs the dancers, DJs and artists to all work together again as we did 10 years ago during the Elephant Man and Sean Paul boom that initially took the music worldwide. Big shout outs to RDX and Jiff Da Bossman on this collaboration because it’s always about the bigger vision and not the hottest dance. This is what I travel for… to unite the world through dancehall as Bob Marley united the world through reggae. This collaboration is the beginning of a new and welcomed era in the dancehall and this unification is historical. Let’s continue to work and grow together. I can’t wait to see the music video!
Check out some of the videos made by dancers from around the world who’ve answered RDX’s call.
Deimante & Vaiva of Bubble Hard Crew (Lithuania)
Swaggout Dancehall Crew (Poland)
Melissa & Crew (Russia)
Jiff Da Bossman (Russia)