Dancehall moves to classroom

BY SIMONE MORGAN Observer reporter

Sunday, September 28, 2014

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CHOREOGRAPHER Orville Hall may have pulled off his best move to date. Come January, he will be conducting a course in dancehall dance at his alma mater Excelsior Community College in St Andrew.

"I am just trying to preserve dancehall and wanted to show others that there are sections of dancehall that can be taught in school. People can get accredited and certified," he told the Sunday Observer.

According to the founder of the 14-year-old dance group Dance Xpressionz, he got the nod after submitting a layout course to the HEART Trust NTVET, months ago.

Hall explained that while the three-month course will comprise mainly contemporary dancehall moves, students will also be exposed to elements of ska, revival, and kumina.

Hall said like other genres, dancehall dancing takes years of practice. And, before a person can call himself a dancer, he would have needed to learn the language of dance as any musician does with music.

"Every dance genre has a technique and dancehall is the only one that some persons can look at, buss a move, then say they are a dancer. But it is more deeper than that, as it is not just about the steps. It's about our clothes and body language. I want people to know about the history," he said.

Among the course's tutors are members of his Dance Xpressionz team including Shelly Callum, Stacy-Ann Facey, Sherene Davis, and Nacole Trowers. Also on the roster are Kent Robinson and Chad 'Global Bob' Torrington.

Hall's lessons will include techniques of late flamboyant dancer Gerald 'Bogle' Levy. According to him, Bogle's moves are still very popular in Europe.

"It is one of the few dances that has identifiable steps. New-school dances more look like hip hop. Bogle is a very important model in the dance genre. He came in with Bogle dance and left us with Willy Bounce, which are two of the most famous dancehall dances worldwide," he said.

Bogle was a colourful dancehall personality who hailed from the tough Kingston community of Arnett Gardens. A member of the popular Black Roses Crew, he rose to national prominence in 1992 through Bogle, an ode to his dancing skills by Buju Banton.

He created several dance moves including World Dance, Out and Bad, and Wacky Dip and inspired a new generation of dancers. He was shot and killed in Kingston on January 20, 2005, at age 40. His murder remains unsolved.

No stranger to the dance floor, Hall conducted classes while a full-time student at Excelsior Community College in 1998.

"Patsy Rickets, Kenny Salmon and myself were responsible for writing the course for the Urban Contemporary Folk (dancehall course)," he recalled.

After graduation in 2000, Hall returned a year later to earn an Associate Degree in the Performing Arts. Hall said he stayed with the college for 11 years, writing skits and getting the school involved in Jamaica Cultural Development Commission activities.

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