Curtis Campbell, Gleaner Writer
Dance teachers Latonya Styles of Dance Ja and Maria Hitchins, representing Dancers of Jamaica, are gearing up to host a new dancing competition, the International Dance Championships. The competition will feature dancehall dancers from all over the globe, as they compete for more than $100,000 in cash and prizes.
The organisers are looking to create an annual dancehall product and are hoping the competition will assist with bringing dancing to a more professional level.
"Earlier this year, members of Jamaica's dancehall dance community had begun strategising the best ways forward in combating existing and new challenges, including intellectual property protection, better work compensation, negative stereotypes and practices. Out of these discussions, we have decided to partner to reenergise the celebration of dancehall's dance culture," Hitchins said.
The dance king and queen will be crowned at the International Dancehall Championships, which will be staged on Friday, August 9, at 22 Barbican Road (opposite Burger King in Liguanea), St Andrew. Admission to attend the competition, which will start at 9 p.m., will cost patrons $1,000.
Title winners will take home more than $100,000 in cash and prizes, a booking agency contract, marketing and grooming development packages, as well as paid and promotional gigs for a year.
BOGLE NOT CROWNED
Hitchins noted that the community lost iconic dancer, Gerald 'Bogle' Levy, without him being crowned. Still, the show must go on.
"Sadly, Gerald 'Bogle' Levy was never crowned king while alive. As such, we wish to make amends by ensuring that such a deserved title does not remain elusive. Instead, the best in the world among the male dancers will compete annually. Our female dancers are just as important and we wish to elevate their value by making it very clear that this is not about acrobatics and stage antics - they, too, will have to 'buss di stage' with actual dance moves in order to impress our judges on the night," Hitchins said.
Hitchins also pointed out that the competing dancers will be required to deliver professionally choreographed moves, which will not be limited to acrobatic stunts and wining routines.
The organisers also plan to take patrons down dancehall's memory lane, where they will be exposed to dances which were popular in the '90s, such as the 'Tattie', leading up to the contemporary 'Trapsetta'.
The International Dance Championships is open to all nationalities and, according to the organisers, several Jamaican and foreign participants have already signed up to compete.
Dancers interested entering the competition are required to email one to three video performance links, along with their photograph, to firstname.lastname@example.org. Following the submission, they will be contacted.
The deadline for entries is today, July 26, at midnight. For further information, dancing enthusiasts can call 844-3353 or 414-3627.