Patrons enjoying themselves at a dance.(Photos: Observer file)

Dancehall Dance Association (DDA), the umbrella organisation representing dancers in the popular music space, is standing by its statement against the proliferation of foreign nationals currently operating out of Jamaica and teaching dance classes.

In a strongly worded statement released to social media recently, the organisation stated that only Jamaicans should be allowed to teach such dancehall dance classes in Jamaica.

“No non-Jamaican is permitted to teach dancehall dance classes or conduct dancehall lectures in Jamaica. To do so, goes against the respect for and preservation of dancehall culture and undermines the welfare and livelihood of Jamaican dancehall dancers and teachers. As originators and creators, we have a duty to protect the cultural authenticity of dancehall dance in its hone and secure the jobs of those Jamaican originators/creators/ citizens. We consider the teaching of dancehall dance in Jamaica by a non-Jamaican to be an offensive act that strikes at the heart of our culture and identity,” the statement read in part.

Spokesperson for the DDA, dancer Latonya “Latonya Styles” Dillon, told the Jamaica Observer that her organisation is resolute in its stance on the matter and stands by it, and had nothing more to say on the matter.

She, however, noted that this represents the unity required by the organisation, in order for dancers, in particular, and the culture in general to reap maximum benefits.

“We just need to come together. That why I organise the DanceJA Awards which was held recently to just recognise the dancers and other persons in the dancehall space who are often overlooked,” she said.

“I first started the awards in 2010 and did it for two years, so we have not had it since 2012. But 10 years, later we brought it back to just help to make some of these people feel seen...it's more than awards. With no YVAs (Youth View Awards), and Spice being nominated for a Grammy, we just saw it as a great time to celebrate the industry,” Dillon shared.

Awards were presented in 30 categories at Uptown Mondays on January 24. Among the winners were: Favourite International Dancehall Group — Xqusiv Dance Crew; Dancehall Dance Move of the Year — Dirt Bounce by Tyreke Dirt; Dancehall Advocate of the Year — Maria Hitxhins; Best Dance Tutorials — Chris's Choreo; Best Dance Videos — Sara Bendii; Selector of the Year (supportive of dancers) — Boom Boom, Dancehall Pioneers Shelly Belly and Stacia Fya; Fancehall Brand Ambassador of the Year — Deaha Ravers; New Dancer of the Year — Monsta Boss and Popular Dance Move — Rifle Walk by Coote Boss.

Latonya Styles
BY RICHARD JOHNSON Observer senior reporter johnsonr@jamaicaobserver.com

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