Words by Blacka Di Danca, Photos by Little Shao—
New York City-based dancer and choreographer extraordinaire Blacka di Danca has been traveling the world spreading the gospel of dancehall through classes and appearances at top dance studios and clubs from Mexico to Siberia. He’s currently on his latest tour across Europe, where he had a chance to see history being made as dancehall was added to Juste Debout, the world’s largest street dance competition, earlier this month.
Another month, another big step for dancehall!
Juste Debout is the biggest dance competition in the world. For 11 years, it has showcased the world’s best breakers, poppers, lockers, house dancers and hip-hop dancers. Held annually in Bercy, Paris, it has the highest level of competition of any event of its kind and a yearly attendance of over 20,000. This year, something magical happened: Dancehall was added to the competition for the FIRST time. Juste Dancehall!
It was Laure Courtellemont, an amazing dancer and kind-spirited person, who made this all possible. She has been fighting for years to put dancehall on this event, and this year she finally made it happen. This is bigger than people may initially see. It just opened the eyes millions of Juste Debout followers around the world to the dancehall culture! This, in turn, provides a push for people to research what dancehall dance is, leading more people to travel to Jamaica, to seek proper dancehall instructors and to generally fall in love with our amazing style of dance. This is huge!
I myself flew to Paris to spread my knowledge of, and experience in, dancehall with Sir Ledgen, another great dancer and teacher pushing the culture. During the two-day Juste Dancehall event, I witnessed some beautiful things. People with little to no Caribbean or Jamaican background indulging in and loving the culture, dancing and sweating and competing to help bring it to higher heights. The judges of this event were Laure Courtellemont, Crazy Hype, Amad Banks and Henry Link. Competitors came from Jamaica, France, Ukraine, French Guyana, and beyond… It was an international event full of crazy vibes.
Hopefully with a start like this, we can begin to have dancehall accepted into more events, TV shows, movies and so on… The next Juste Dancehall will be just as professional and bigger. Contestants from around the world are welcome to join. We have all been working hard collectively to make the world more aware of dancehall dance, and this is one of many accomplishments to come!. Big up all dancehall instructors and dancers around the world pushing the culture, and special gratitude to Laure Courtellemont for this event and all of her sacrifice for Jamaica and dancehall. Juste Dancehall was definitely a success! See you at the next event!
Find out where Blacka stops next on his Teach The World tour here.