Sun | Aug 1, 2021

Yoram Savion aiming to ‘tell a story through dancehall’

Red Bull Dance City Guide zooms into Kingston

Published:Thursday | July 22, 2021 | 12:11 AMStephanie Lyew/Gleaner Writer
Red Bull Dance Your Style champion Jevaughn ‘Pancho’ Williams takes direction from the crew as film director Yoram Savion (centre) and second camera assistant Jik-Reuben Pringle plan the next move.
Red Bull Dance Your Style champion Jevaughn ‘Pancho’ Williams takes direction from the crew as film director Yoram Savion (centre) and second camera assistant Jik-Reuben Pringle plan the next move.
Film Director Yoram Savion and the production crew for Dance City Guide take a celebratory photograph to wrap the video shoot.
Film Director Yoram Savion and the production crew for Dance City Guide take a celebratory photograph to wrap the video shoot.
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Yoram Savion does not shy away from the streets. Sometimes it is a tedious task to put together an entire production focused on dance, but the final product is always rewarding, says the film director. With the latest film project taking Savion into the busy thoroughfares, quiet avenues and parks of Kingston, he said, “Dance is like a language; I don’t have to be versed as a dancer but able to translate into my own understanding, and for this one, Red Bull’s Dance City Guide, I am here to tell a story through dancehall.”

The film director, who is from Oakland, California, through his work in youth development, was introduced to dance and other arts, which eventually progressed into projects such as poetry, short films and dance videos. From 2006 to 2009, Savion directed and produced a series of dance films conceptualised to honour persons who lost their lives by whatever means – dubbed RIP Videos – one of which, titled Dancing in the Rain, went viral.

Red Bull has been sponsoring dance, specifically b-boying, typically performed to hip hop music and involves a lot of acrobatics and breakdancing, but for the past five years, the international energy drink brand has renewed effort into street dances and standing dances, hence the birth of the Dance City Guide, said Savion. One of his first projects in Jamaica was for Red Bull with the Dance Your Style competition. It was where Savion was introduced to dancers Jevaughn ‘Pancho’ Williams and Shamara ‘Inspire’ Spencer, who are being featured.

Pancho emerged as the champion for the 2019 Red Bull Dance Your Style held in Kingston, while Inspire was the top-performing female in the competition, placing fourth overall.

“We’re doing a continuation of that effort to bring street dances to the forefront. The idea is for the audiences to discover an international city through the eyes and perspective of dancers, and specifically, it is best through local dancers. There is a lot of intricacy when it comes to dance, and dancehall is considered one of those styles. For the project, there’s a lot of music and movements, as well as graphics we will use to tell the story of the places,” he said.

In the middle of the Hope Botanical Gardens in Kingston, the film director and a team of Jamaican film professionals collaborated to complete the shoot in two days. The story sees the dancers driving, hitting a pothole, which leads Inspire to get into her element and beginning to dance to the music, which takes them through different scenes.

JAMAICAN EXPERTISE

“I understand there is a constant need for Jamaican productions to be run by Jamaicans, so, outside of my expertise, I thought it best I have a crew which could bring the story to life. I think it is important to encourage the talent here for it to be funded and supported the way it needs to be,” Savion said.

Featured dancers, Pancho and Inspire, though exhausted from shooting for over 24 hours, still managed to nail the jumps and wine in tune to the rhythm, which should not be a surprise, since the two have worked on numerous projects together throughout the years, including the music video for Shape Nice, a collaboration with Vybz Kartel, Afro B and Dre Skull.

“Being on this project is a blessing. Working with Yoram, who made a thoughtful decision to work with a local crew instead of international people, has been smooth sailing, and it was kept on a high energy level, which I can say Inspire inspired me to stay on. It has given me new perspectives to work with and an experience to add to my resume,” Pancho said.

“The chemistry between Inspire and I helps with developing a sense of professionalism, [and] creating a balance as we share movement patterns and combine creativity. It’s important for our dance culture to see this between male and female dancers. This is one reason persons should check out the Dance City Guide production when it is released,” he continued.

Another reason is exposure the project gives to dancehall’s dance culture, he said, as a diverse space for persons [to] express themselves with their own movements. Inspire agreed. “We came, we danced, we conquered. I mean, we have been going from yesterday before sunrise, and we were dressed and ready early for the road. That’s what our work is about, and I am elated that I, as someone who dances to inspire and is not always categorised as dancehall, gets the opportunity to show my overall style in this project and show the diversity I add to our culture,” Inspire said.

stephanie.lyew@gleanerjm.com