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Who is the Best Dancer in Jamaica?

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Who is the Best Dancer in Jamaica? | Image Source: Jamaica ObserverWho is the Best Dancer in Jamaica?

As a people, music and dance is a big part of our culture and identity. After all, we are the home of reggae and dancehall. Our musical and dance legacy underwent numerous stages of development, evolving through Mento and Ska from the profoundly Afrocentric Kumina and Revival. Renowned dancers Rex Nettleford, L'Antoinette Stines, Tony Wilson, and Ivy Baxter have all contributed significantly to Jamaica's earlier international notoriety in dancing.

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Rex Nettleford

Professor, The Honourable Ralston Milton Nettleford, also known as Rex Nettleford, was a national hero, cultural ambassador, international scholar, dancer, choreographer, orator, and former vice-chancellor of the University of the West Indies. The importance of dance in Professor Nettleford's life persisted throughout his professional life. He joined the National Dance Theatre Company of Jamaica (NDTC) in 1963 and soon rose to the positions of co-founder, artistic director, choreographer, and lead dancer. The NDTC is an ensemble that focuses on combining our traditional music, dance, and rituals within the European balletic framework. Under his leadership, the NDTC developed and is currently one of our most known and finest dance ensembles with a renowned repertoire.

Dr. L'Antoinette Stines

Dr. L'Antoinette Stines has a lengthy and diverse performing background including everything from Yoruba "Orisha" dances to classical ballet. Her dance training began with Alma MockYen in Jamaica following with the Martha Graham School and Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater.

L'ACADCO, A United Caribbean Dance Force, was founded by her in Miami, Florida, in 1978. When she visited Jamaica again in 1982, she moved the business here. Today, Dr Stines is recognized as one of the major authorities on the development of modern technique as well as popular and traditional Jamaican dance, and L'Acadco is one of our top contemporary dance companies.

Tony Wilson

Wilson founded The Company Dance Theatre in 1988 after a career as a dancer, primarily with the NDTC. He has guided the troupe to become one of the best in the nation, with a group of extremely talented and trained dancers. The company predominantly uses Graham and Horton's approaches, with a concentration on modern dance. Wilson is renowned for producing lengthy ballets that use local tales set to contemporary dance styles. His most well-known work in this regard is Rose Hall. For his contributions to dancing, he most recently earned the Order of Distinction at the Officer level during the annual National Honours and Awards Ceremony.

Ivy Baxter

Before we even gained independence, Ivy Baxter invented a fresh method of approaching dance theatre as a type of popular culture. She was regarded as one of the prominent personalities not just here in Jamaica but in Caribbean dance overall. Along with Beryl McBurnie and Lavinia Williams, and she was a pioneer of the so-called barefoot trend in the 1950s. She was the first Jamaican dance choreographer to examine the various Africanist folk styles on the island and to meld and incorporate folk dance with modern expressionist dance.

As the Ivy Baxter Dance Group's founder in 1950, she contributed to the drive for national independence by redefining an African Jamaican national identity by honouring African cultural traditions and roots. Her dance theatre utilized live drumming and regional music together with narrative components that depicted local practices and everyday life. Dancers and choreographers including Rex Nettleford, Clive Thompson, and Garth Fagan were among her company's first recruits. One of the earliest recorded portrayals of Jamaican dance styles was in her book The Arts of an Island, published in 1970.

Who is the best dancer in Jamaica?

While the dancers mentioned above have done incredible work, if you went up to any random Jamaican on the street and asked them who is Jamaica’s best dancer, they would without a doubt say, Bogle.

Gerald Levy, best known by his stage names Bogle, Father Bogle, Mr. Bogle, Bogle Dancer, and Mr. Wacky, was a dancehall choreographer and performer from Jamaica.

With more dancehall moves than any other individual, Bogle is best known for inventing the dance that bears his name: the Bogle dance. He had the talent to appear to make dances effortlessly, and his dances would quickly gain enormous popularity. The Willie Bounce, Wacky Dip, Urkle Dance, Pelper, LOY, Jerry Springer, Zip It Up, Hotti Hotti Bogle, World Dance, Pop Yuh Collar, Row di Boat, Out and Bad, Sweeper, Stuckie, and many other well-known dances were all created by him.

Other dancers who have made a name for themselves in dancehall include:

  • Dancing Rebel
  • Marvin "Di Beast"
  • Shelly Belly
  • Ding Dong & The Ravers Clavers Group
  • Kevia
  • Colo Colo
  • Nickeisha
  • Bermuda Squad
  • Dance Xpressionz
  • Overmarz
  • Fantastic Steppaz

Dancing is as dear to us as music is. They truly go hand in hand. These dancers have done an incredible job at not only keeping our traditional dancing alive but also creating new dance moves that today's generation can also pass down. 

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References & Sources For Who is the Best Dancer in Jamaica?

  1. Best Dancehall Dancers of All Times. (n.d.). Dancehall Reggae World.
  2. Doing it for Tony. (2019, November 7). Jamaica Observer.
  3. L’Antoinette Stines – Jamaica. (2020, December 15). Fresh Milk Barbados.
  4. NETTLEFORD, Rex — Choreography, Education (1933 – 2010). (2017, August 6). The National Library of Jamaica.
  5. Jamaica’s Heritage in Dance & Music – Jamaica Information Service. (n.d.). Jamaica Information Service - the Voice of Jamaica.,Baxter%20to%20name%20a%20few
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