King of the Dancehall (2016): “I always imagined myself becoming a dancer..”

King of the Dancehall

“The film I’m thinking of is King of the Dancehall (2016) because several years ago it was my ultimate dream to become a background dancer. When I finished High school I immediately auditioned at Lucia Marthas and at the Amsterdam University of the Arts, but I wasn’t accepted. I tried again the year after, but again I wasn’t accepted. I had even done a pre-course in the year between the two auditions to perfect my dancing. For the pre-course, I had to do a final presentation performance, which was after I wasn’t accepted for the second time. During a choreography, I suddenly had to cry, because it felt like a goodbye to dancing. I was lost and I had no clue what to do. I always imagined myself becoming a dancer and now I probably had to go study and become a lawyer or an administrator. A year ago there was an opportunity to audition for a Dancehall crew. Me and my two girlfriends auditioned, but for some reason, I did not feel that comfortable in my skin so I wasn’t able to perfectly pick up the choreography and I ended up not being selected. My two friends were selected and I continued going to school and work. Next to that, I started taking DJ and photography classes at Studio West, which led to playing music at several parties and festivals, and to a photography exhibition at the Meervaart theatre in Amsterdam. It is called ‘Tru’. Then last summer I found out that my friends were going to Jamaica with the Dancehall crew called junction crew and I asked if I could join. I love Dancehall and this was my chance to finally see where the music and dance style originated from. My friends and the crew were totally fine with me joining them and I was able to refind my passion for dancing over there. We had classes from local dancehall crews who were sharing their dance moves with us with so much energy. At the parties, they show their moves to the crowd and it’s often recorded by cameras, also known as the ‘video light’, which they put on youtube to show it to the world. That’s a way to get well-known and booked to give classes in for example Europe or in the States. I also had the opportunity to practice my photography skills to show another perspective of Jamaica and Dancehall, unlike the image of ‘twerking’ and splits that the media shows you. Eventually, one of the guys said he had the film King of the Dancehall, which I wanted to see badly. The guy brought the film to our place and we watched it with the crew and I noticed that a lot of the dancers that I met in Jamaica were in the film, which I thought was super cool. From that moment I started to believe that dancing is not about being the best or having a classical dance educational background, but it is about enjoying the moment and having fun.”

Photo and story by Feargal Agard