Words by Emily Shapiro, Photos by Natalie Keyssar
If you’ve been to a dancehall party in New York, or pretty much anywhere, in the past five years, you’ve seen the smooth moves of Ground Zero. The crew, started in Brooklyn by Syrin Zero, has turned into an international dance family represented in countries including France, Russia, Brazil and Jamaica. In addition to dance, the good folks of Zero Nation are DJs, clothing designers and photographers. They pledge loyalty to their crew and really know how to throw a party.
Their presence in the club (you can find them on the floor every Thursday at Sugar Mills in Brooklyn) is one aspect of the Zeros featured in a recent photo essay, “Unstoppable: Meet the Dancehall Queens of Brooklyn” in Time’s “Lightbox” series. The series follows one member, Sarah, aka Cookie, in her dual roles as a ballerina and dancehall queen, while she does what many young girls do, shop and hang out with friends and family. The essay also depicts a not-so-typical moment that Sarah faced near her home in Canarsie, when a stray bullet from a drive by shooting landed in her foot.
The photos, by Time contributor Natalie Keyssar, are top-notch and really capture some beautiful moments in the life of Sarah, and her love of dance. Unfortunately, the text doesn’t quite match up, diminishing dancehall dancing to sexualized tests of flexibility, and speaking only minimally about the artistic contributions of Zero Nation. Regardless, it’s a huge look for this group, which gives its young members a sense of responsibility and unity, to be documented in such a major platform. (This isn’t the only unexpected place Caribbean culture in Brooklyn has turned up in the media this last week: ahead of the World Cup this week, the The New York Times ran an interesting feature on an annual Crown Heights game between Hassidic and West Indian soccer teams.)
Check out some more of Keyssar’s photos below, and see the full Lightbox photo series and essay here.