Sat | May 26, 2018

Canadian choreographer eyes JA for secret project

Published:Wednesday | March 21, 2018 | 12:00 AMKimberley Small/Gleaner Writer

Many women were sent into a tailspin after the release of Fade (by recording artiste Teyana Taylor), Kanye West's sweaty gym-set music video featuring G.O.O.D Music.

The music video was focalised by Taylor's ample buttocks and defined physique as she jumped, jiggled and writhed about the screen. Partly responsible for the tantalising imagery presented in the body-envy-inspiring music video is Canadian choreographer Jae Blaze.

From injecting dancehall postures into Taylor's choreography, to creating pieces for international multi-genre competitions and working alongside international superstars like Rihanna and Beyonce, Jae has noted that though the dancehall styles and attitudes are internationally recognisable and ultimately sought after, and she is confident that dancehall will one day become a globally recognised dance form, in the realm of tap dance or even contemporary ballet. But lacking is the presence of Jamaican dancehall choreo-graphers in the international market.

"It's taken me every day to spread the message of female empowerment, fitness and unity within my class - just travelling to different cities and teaching the foundation of female dancehall and why it's important," Jae told The Gleaner.

Influenced by the Jamaican diaspora in Toronto, this choreographer has taken up the responsibility to make dancehall as a dance form, as pervasive as possible. Named after the popularised dance song and lingo, Jae has developed her own dancehall class called JukGyal, in an attempt to popularise dancehall in North America.

"Trying to big up the choreographers in Jamaica - it's just been really hard. We have Canada, Europe who respect the dance. There are so many Jamaicans in Toronto. We respect the dance form as a genre. So You Think You Can Dance Canada respected dancehall as a genre," she told The Gleaner.

Jae Blaze is the choreographer behind the inclusion of Clarks by Vybz Kartel, and Star Bwoy by Mavado into the dance competitions' roster.

CHALLENGES

"Then we have the struggle in America, where they do not look at dancehall as an official genre of dance. I came to America and I was trying to pitch for dancehall to be shown on a very affluent show here. And they told me that dancehall is not a form of dance, straight out, blatantly. They told me it's not a genre," Jae revealed.

Last week, the passionate dancer took her first trip to the island since working as chief choreographer on Nick Cannon's straight-to-YouTube directorial debut, King of the Dancehall.

Meant to be a vacation, the career dancer also took the opportunity to be a student in some lessons of her own.

"I came to take classes because, of course, if you want to be the best, you have to learn from the best. So I took an amazing class that stands out far in my mind - by a young lady called Katy Insanity. I learned so much."

More than just vacation and dance lessons, Jae Blaze intends to continue weaving herself into the tapestry of Jamaican dancehall with a brand new project to kick off later this year.

"I can't reveal too much about this project that I'm doing in October. However, I will say that it will be in Jamaica and I will be bringing down some of my students from my classes, from various parts of the world. It will be an amazing project that is going to unify us, and expose my people to Jamaica's culture. It's going to be a great exchange."