Arts & Entertainment

Tanisha Scott Talks Dancehall & Life As a Choreographer

Dancehall is one of the most popular form of music in Jamaica next to Reggae. The genre began in the 1970s and is sometimes considered the precursor to rap. Dancehall in its simplest form is when a deejay toasts (raps) over riddim- which is Jamaican patois for rhythm –the riddim was usually the instrumental version of song. Dancehall got it’s name from the larger halls or street spaces that deejays used to set up their sound systems. Instead of just playing the pre-recorded songs, many of the deejays began toasting over it and many of the djs became household names in the process. In the early 1990s, dancehall came to the via megahit songs by Shabba Ranks, Patra and Chaka Demus and Pliers. By the early 2000s Dancehall became mainstream with saw the successful artists Rihanna and Sean Paul and infiltrated hip hop and popular music like Beyonce’s Baby Boy featuring Sean Paul.

An integral part of the Dancehall culture is the dancing itself-they are intrinsically intertwined and you can’t have one without the other. The dance is all about attitude and energy and there’s are over 800 dancehall moves. The names of these dances are just as energetic as the moves themselves- “Like Glue”, “Bogle”, “Wine & Dip”, “Whine Up”, “Boosie Bounce”, “Shovel It”, “To Di World”, “Dutty Wine”, “Bad Man Forward Bad Man Pull Up”, “Keeping it Jiggy”, “Pon Di River”, “Willie Bounce”, “Wacky Dip”, “Screetchie” and “Daggering” to name a few.  Dancehall dancing has also influenced a lot of the dances you see in videos today.

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Longtime choreographer and collaborator Tanisha Scott talks to Fader magazine about the history of dancehall and breaks down some of the most iconic dance moves in some of Sean Paul’s videos and she’s also the visionary behind fellow Canadian Drake’s move in Hotline Bling.

There are few feelings more human than the eyes-closed, hips-squared euphoria of dancing to a song you really, really love, whether your move of choice is a casual two-step or a complex back-bending, limb-isolating routine. Sean Paul may not be a technically skilled dancer — a friend once joked that his confidence is an inspiration to all people who love to dance and aren’t particularly good at it — but his emphasis on incorporating dancehall moves in music videos is an important part of his legacy. “Sean is a true dancer in his heart,” longtime choreographer and collaborator Tanisha Scott told The FADER. “He may not be technically trained, he may not have all the tough moves, but he loves to dance and he loves to big up dance.”

Read the full story at Fader magazine.

Watch the Life In A Day of Tanisha Scott: