Dance Your Style redefines street dance competitions
In Jamaica, it is easy to get lost in the mix of street dance, especially for a dancer who is trying to introduce new styles or create a merger between dancehall and other genres.
For this reason, Red Bull has selected 16 dancers across the island to compete in its Dance Your Style, which comes to the Caribbean later this month. Dancehall has had a major influence on its ongoing global dance competition, so coming to the mecca - Jamaica - was a natural progression.
More than 10 countries have been exposed to the Red Bull Dance Your Style competition across Europe, Africa and East Asia, which, according to popular dancer, Rohan 'Raddy Rich' Lyttle, sees dancers worldwide challenged to perform dances from all genres - dancehall being one of the most preferred one.
"Our country is known for its dancehall music across the world. Dance Your Style will now open the doors for dancers to enter international platform," Lyttle told The Gleaner.
Lyttle had the opportunity to see at first hand the way persons responded to the music at the staging in France. "It will be interesting for the Jamaican dancers as well as the audience, because the competitors will be challenged to dance outside of their comfort zone - not just dancehall," he said.
The competition will be staged for the first time in a street-dance setting - Mojito Mondays at the Terrace Bar and Grill, rather than a theatre, club or auditorium, as is is done in other countries. It still follows the same entertainment landscape of a disc jockey selecting unpredictable music and crowd-voting (winners are not decided by a panel of judges).
"The Jamaican audience is one of the most difficult to please, so all I can say to the competitors is be creative, be different, think outside the box, keep your fans engaged, have fun and just represent Jamaica to the fullest," he added.
The title, 'Dance Your Style', is literal, says one of the 16 competitors, Tara Renee Price, aka Tara Tehrebel. "There is no such thing as preparing a routine for a street dance battle because the songs that will be selected are not known to any of us, but because it is freestyle, we have to be aware of the global musical genres."
She added, "Part of that awareness means learning dance vocabulary. In the end, it will definitely be exposure in the sense that I am not primarily a street battle dancer, never entered a competition of this nature, but I am versed in various dance styles so I can showcase my versatility to the audience and an international entertainment platform as Red Bull."
The dancers will go head-to-head just like at parties back in the day, but she says it is not just about creating the shock value that is being observed on the scene but also technique and knowledge.
Price admitted, "I do find that crowd-voting element intimidating - but it only makes it more challenging for me, which I have accepted and use as a motivating factor for my performance."