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Crazy Hype takes dancehall to the world

Published:Saturday | May 28, 2016 | 5:03 AM

Dancers like Michael Graham, aka Crazy Hype, have travelled throughout Europe, the United States and other parts of the world to teach dancehall moves and choreography in workshops attended by thousands.

Dancehall is emerging as a standardised dance form, with classes taking place in top international dance schools and studios.

Graham, founder of MOB Dance Group, has been conducting dancehall workshops all over the world for the past eight years. In 2007, the MOB Dance Group was named the World Reggae Dance Champion. They have since received multiple awards each year under various categories, including Best Dance Group and Most Consistent Dance Group.

In 2008, Graham was invited to England to conduct a dance workshop for the benefit of troubled youth. He treated it as a one-off invitation, and didn't teach again until 2011.

Destiny beckons

"At that time, it wasn't a part of my plan. But then I started teaching again in Russia, and I knew it was my destiny to start spreading authentic dancehall across the world," he said.

The US, Italy, France, Sweden, Poland and Russia are some of the countries he has taught.

"And, in 2013, I went to Brazil too, at the biggest dance camp, where I was the first to bring dancehall to that stage. It was an event called RIOh2K," Graham proudly told The Gleaner.

There, Graham introduced dancehall to approximately 4,000 people. Graham's Instagram account has videos of him leading classes with more than 100 participants, also including lessons in mento and ska dance styles.

"It's something I think was relevant, to give people an idea of where the music is coming from, before it became dancehall."

He has been invited to conduct classes at top international dance studios such as Debbie Reynolds Dance Studio and Movement Lifestyle. Under the category, 'dancehall funk', he was invited "to come through and show people real authentic dancehall in its purest form."

Graham served as a chief judge in the Juste Debout Street Dance Competition in 2015, hosted in Paris, France.

"Dancehall was introduced and firstly brought to the competition by a student and close friend of mine," he told The Gleaner. Juste Debout is described as the international meeting of street dances, gathering more than 4,000 dancers from around the world. Six major categories are represented at the event (locking, popping, hip hop, house, experimental and dancehall) to sold-out venues housing up to 16,000 people.

Graham has also been featured as a dancer in a number of music videos for international artists like Oceana's Endless Summer, Major Lazer's Watch Out For This and Pharrell Williams' Freedom.

The MOB Dance Group, remains active with members Crazy Hype, Cojo, Cash, Tom and Unknown.

entertainment@gleanerjm.com