Dancehall has always been grouped with similar styles of music. Not too long ago “Dancehall was Reggaeton”, now “Dancehall is Twerk”! Most of the time there is something close to the other genres, but this is not a good excuse to generalize and actually, we should be more curious about them. That’s why we had this talk with Irie, European Dancehall and Twerk Queen.

She has always loved to dance, but she has started to be familiar with dancehall in 2008, while she was “clubbing” with her friends because she was attracted by the “sounds alike” with reggaeton and “look alike” with belly dance:

Irie: “When I started to dance, I use to watch Dancehall contests and while I imagined to be on those stages, I use to tell myself “one day you will be there”.

That’s how she started to be completely absorbed by this new genre and all the culture around it. She started to participate in national contests, and winning her first place at DHQ Contest España in 2011 showing her “dancehall attitude” and the third place in Vienna DHQ Contest.
But her curiosity and interest for new styles doesn’t end with dancehall:

Irie: “It was in 2012, and Twerk was becoming popular in Spain so I’ve tried it and I found it to be a more technical work out for my hips”.

So, starting as a “simple” workout for hips, step by step, video after video, workshop after workshop, Twerk turned into the greatest passion: she participates and wins the first place at Russian “bootyshaking” contest in 2014.

It is not easy to be always updated in Europe about new steps and movements because dancehall and twerk finds their rootz in USA and Jamaica…

Irie: “Thanks to Facebook, we have a quick and easy access to see what’s going on in the entire world with these styles, but in my opinion this is not the better way to learn them: I personally think that it is very important to learn with a physical teacher in person, videos are not enough, because you can’t feel the “groove” and you might learn something wrong which you’ll have to correct on day.
When I started with dancehall, there was not so much on line, I spent so many days watching videos trying to understand the lyrics of the songs, while the dancer explained the movement. Twerking is different. It looks like social network became a window fool of shaking asses! I don’t like this trend and I don’t feel comfortable with this kind of development… I prefer to study by myself and find other ways to improve my technique”.

It is a matter of time, studying and passion: you start to learn the roots, the history, the flow, the message, differences between the songs…

Irie“We are talking about two different things: In the dancehall the female figure and the male one are well differentiated, the female have more attention and it is more emphasized. Twerking is more about self-expression no matter which gender you are. Twerk has born in New Orleans between gay afroamerican rappers (i.e. Big Freedia), in Jamaica homophobia is unfortunately very present in the real world and sometimes in the lyrics… so we are definitely not talking about the same dance!”

… and logically how to dance them:

Irie: “In Jamaica the steps in Female Style are essentially social and they are usually connected to any kind of socio-cultural phenomenon happening in that specific moment. In twerking we try to move only our gluteus muscle while in complicated position, and the name of the steps are referred just to the movement, nothing social or cultural. A lot of steps in dancehall and twerk have the same name but they are done in a different way. About the specific movement: in twerk the accent goes with the rhythm like the hip hop (since it comes from this culture), in the dancehall the accent is on the bass. Also, in dancehall there are many combination for arms and legs, in twerking everything is focused on hips and butts, arms are just a “frame”.

Dancehall has its own “twerking-section” because various steps are basically for ass, in twerking I try not to utilize too many arms movement coming from dancehall, otherwise the choreography would be too confused. The only thing I do for fun is to use dancehall songs for twerk choreographies, using the rhythm on the opposite way”.


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