What's That Dance
By Katharine Harris | Published August 18, 2010
Photo by unikdesign75 via Flickr (CC)
During Season Two of So You Think You Can Dance Canada
, judge Luther Brown pronounced to contestants Jayme Rae and Daniel, after their Dancehall performance, that they would gully creepa
all the way to the top – and left many audiences members unsure as to what exactly what was being discussed, or what dance style they’d just seen performed.
So what is Dancehall, and how does the gully creepa
figure into it?
Dancehall is a dance style created in Jamaica in the late 1970s. Dancehall music came first, and was initially created as a version of reggae, though less political than the popular roots genre which was hugely influential at the time.
The Dancehall music and later dance were named after the public spaces in which popular Jamaican Dancehall music recordings were aired to very enthusiastic local crowds. In the mid 1980s, instruments such as the synthesizer changed the sound of Dancehall and its rhythms and style picked up speed. At the same time, political changes in Jamaica were reflected in the music, as an overall trend towards locally-produced culture became increasingly popular. Changes in the appearance of Dancehall aficionados began to appear, with women wearing more revealing clothing, while men sported high-end casual wear.
Specific Dancehall moves also began to be created, designed to make parties more fun and stage performances more energetic, examples
of these moves include the gully creepa
and the nuh linga.
More recently, the pulsating beats found in Dancehall music make it a musical relative of hip hop.As the music began to pick up its pace and beats, so too did the dancing. More recent artists who have been inspired by Dancehall include Sean Paul, Elephant Man and some Rihanna songs.
Usain Bolt, the incredible Jamaican athlete brought Dancehall to an even wider audience when, after finishing his races, he began to perform Dancehall moves (see Bolt dance
). His casual performance of these distinctly Jamaican moves catapulted Dancehall into the limelight around the world, and has increased Jamaican pride in this locally-grown dance form.
As Dancehall is an "organic" dance, that developed in dancehalls and was shaped by the cultural trends of its practitioners, there aren’t as yet studios in Canada teaching the dance style. However, YouTube has several instructional videos
on how to perform certain Dancehall moves, for those who want to give it a try!