DanceJA – Dance Jamaica Academy

DanceJA – Dance Jamaica Academy

What is DanceJA?

DanceJA is a talent & entertainment organisation that portrays the culture of Jamaica and its vibrant people.

Where is it located?

Dance Jamaica Academy is an international dance studio & cultural center located at 22 Barbican road. Liguanea, in Kingston Jamaica

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How and when did DanceJa come about?

DanceJA website came into existence in 20o6. Showcasing local talent by means of profiles, video clips, photos, etc.

The first physical space (dance studio) opened in December 2012 and in June 2013 we change location to a bigger and better space called dance Jamaica cultural center.

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What kind of work as far as workshops (for internationals) and dancer development (for locals) do you do at DanceJA?

At Dance Jamaica Academy we not only offer dance workshops, but we also offer cultural lectures, cultural activities (language, food, games), nightlife excursions, local tours, studio rental, educational course, group trip organisation.

For the local market we offer dance fitness classes, provide dancers for events, music video shoots, commercials, provide job & tour/travel opportunities for our local teachers as they develop their teaching skills in a studio environment.

All teachers are allowed to attend other workshops free of cost to develop their overall dance skill & knowledge.

The dance workshops are titled: back to basics, old skool flow, dancehall flow and energy, ska/reggae foundation, traditional folk, brukout dancehall, bad gyal dancehall, confidence dancehall, stylish moves, dancehall evolution/ new skool, street flow & groove.

We are now offering dance classes for kids (ages 3-12) and teenagers where will teach them a variety of dance styles to make them well-rounded dancers.

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DanceJA is affiliated with the True Jamaican Dancehall tour in Australia. I see you and your dancers touring all over the world. What other countries/cities/promoters do you work with on a regular basis?

DanceJA is not only affiliated, but was instrumental in initiating the first tour of a Jamaican dancer venturing to Australia, when Latonya Style made her first trip in 2014. The “True Jamaican” name came into existence when Latonya went on her first Russia tour in collaboration with Pola Production in 2012 bringing along 4 other Jamaican dancers. The camp was titled “True Jamaican camp” and this opened many doors for Jamaicans to start traveling to Russia and to European countries.

In 2013 DanceJA hired Maggi Bonning from Germany, who later created Top Up production, to manage the Europe tour organisation. Now Top Up is our partner in Europe tour management entitled “True Jamaican Dancehall solo tour” where we organise Europe tours for up to 6 Jamaican dancers each year. So far the tour team has traveled to more than 16 European countries.

In South America we work with Lina from Dancehall Class Colombia and our team has already been to Colombia and Chile and this year more countries will be added.

The True Jamaica Dancehall tour Australia also cooperates with Dance Apparent, adding an Asian tour after Australia leg.

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Dancehall is being embraced globally. How do you see the spread of dancehall dance across the world?

I see the spread of dancehall dance as a great thing, once the correct information is being shared. With the new trend of dancehall workshops, camps, battles, and competitions happening world wide it has created opportunities for Jamaican dancers to travel. Dancers worldwide are now aware of the existence of this culture that they are benefiting from, teaching the dance styles they either learned from the Jamaicans who visit, but mainly what they learn for free on youtube and other social media platforms. However some non-Jamaicans are increasingly, highly interested & motivated to visit Jamaica to study and experience the raw culture.

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From being at one of your cultural lectures, i got the impression that preservation and protection of Jamaican dancehall culture is a big part of what DanceJA is about. why do you think its important for international dancers to align with authentic dancehall culture and teachers?

Preservation, protection and promotion of authentic dancehall has been DanceJA’s mission from the start and is something that is necessary for any culture… we encourage participants to know the foundation and the root, so as to better understand and execute the dance style.

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How would you describe what authentic dancehall dance is ?

Authentic dancehall is true Jamaican dancehall flow, vibe, energy & knowledge coming from a Jamaican who is living in the dancehall environment and clearly understands and is experienced in all aspects of the dancehall culture, not just dance, but the music, fashion, food, lifestyle, language.

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How do foreign dancers access classes at DanceJA?

Foreign dancers access classes at DanceJa thru videos posted on social media, on our website and when they visit Jamaica to attend the classes.

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Do you also offer accommodation and other culture/tourism services for people traveling to Jamaica to take dance classes?

Yes we can make recommendations for accommodations and organise cultural excursions / sight seeing and other touristic activities.

I saw on a documentary that dancehall generates %15 of the GDP in Jamaica. That seems like a significant amount to me, but some times all you hear about is the negatives of dancehall from the outside. How would you describe the effect of the dancehall as an industry in jamaica?

Yes the negative is often what goes viral. Dancehall is mainly adult entertainment and it is evident that “sex sells”, so many things that happen in the dancehall are not appropriate for all ages. However, dancehall provides job opportunities & income for many Jamaicans and also keeps a lot of people out of trouble. There are also positive aspects to dancehall that need to be highlighted more.

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And finally for people new to dancehall, where do you suggest they should start to research and learn about the style?

For people who are just discovering dancehall they can start their research online, searching for old skool dancehall party videos on youtube, try to watch videos with Jamaican dancers. Also they can read books about dancehall, visit, and visit Jamaica to experience the culture.

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