BY: JODEE BROWN
48 years ago yesterday, one of Dancehall’s patriarchs was born as Gerald ‘Bogle’ Levybegan his journey towards becoming Jamaica’s most decorated dancer.
Though controversy surrounded his life, Boglegraced the world with his slick moves, undeterred ego as well as an ability to wow a crowd at every turn with his feet. The works ofBogle as well as the original Dancehall Queen, Carlene (who deserves a very honorable mention for this list) works are instrumental in creating a clear avenue for Dancehall to travel through as their knack for entertaining audiences sparked a movement that has gradually grown since they rose to stardom in the early 90s.
With several dance crews including Shady Squad, Ravers Clavers, Dance Xpressionzand Sample Six infiltrating sessions and events worldwide, Bogle also paved the way for many individual talents to continue carrying out his work, even after his untimely death in 2005.
Taking that fact into consideration here are nine other individual dancers who’ve shaped the foundation of Dancehall music and who are deserving of credit for sparking interest within the genre in their own ways.
10. Kim Versatile: Known for her appearances in videos such as Hot Like We (Ce’Cile) and Gallis (Mr. Vegas), Kimiko ‘Kim Versatile’ Miller hasn’t looked back since earning a runner-up spot on the popular Dancing Dynamites show in 2007. Hailing as an Edna Manley College and Ardenne High School alumnus, Kim Versatile has been leading the new wave of dancers in recent years and living up to her moniker through a borage of intriguing costumes as well as her undeniable flexibility.
A popular choreographer in her own right, Kim Versatileboasts a very accomplished resume’, working with several other Dancehall/Reggae superstars such as Vybz Kartel, Voicemail, Cherine Anderson, Beres Hammond and rap superstar, Sean Kingston to name a few. With so many accomplishments at such a young age, Kim Versatile’s potential continues to skyrocket.
9. Keiva The Diva: Perhaps the first female dancer to gain mainstream recognition within Dancehall circles was Keiva ‘The Diva’ Hibbert; popping on several television screens when she appeared in Elephant Man’s classic video for Log On. Keiva became a fixture in Elephant Man’s videos and, despite boasting a very slim figure, her range in motion made her a must-see dancer in the early 2000s, culminating in winning the title of Dancehall Queen in 2003
Keiva has seemingly shied away from the spotlight ever since word broke in 2009 that she was pregnant. However, motherhood hasn’t stopped Keiva from performing and has even tested recording waters.
8. Ice – Though branded as a troublemaker throughout his career, no one could question Ice as a vaunted dancer.
Ice created several dance moves while a member of the Black Roses Crew, where Bogle also featured. Despite a somewhat marked reputation, Ice became famous for inventing the Gully Creepa dance in 2008, a move that Usain Bolt also popularized during his exploits in Beijing.
As a result, big things seemed in store for Ice’s career. However, like Bogle and Black Roses founder, Willie Haggart before him, Ice was gunned down as he hung out on Boxing Day at a bar in Kingston, preventing him from reaching his full potential as an elite dancer.
7. Ovamarz – Marlon ‘Ovamarz’ Henry remains one of Jamaica’s most heralded dancers, but frankly deserves more recognition on the international stage given the quality of his work.
Ovamarz became a highlight reel type of dancer from the moment he introduced himself to the world as a member of Ding Dong’s Ravers Clavers group. From there, he popularized several dances included the Nuh Behavia, Raging Bull and the Nuh Linga, which word-record holding sprinter, Usain Bolt popularized during the 2008 Olympics. Though he and Ding Dong later parted ways, Ovamarz has held his own as both a dancer and musician, crafting more recent dances such as the Formation and Now You See Me, Now You Don’t while also releasing a theme song for this year Jamaican Olympic team, dubbed Best Pon 2 Foot.
6. Latonya Style – With her appealing curves and equally appeasing dance moves, Latonya Style has become one of Jamaica’s leading choreographers while also turning heads in a number of music videos such as Charly Black’s Bubble, Elephant Man’s Nuh Linga and Take You Thereby Sean Kingston.
Latonya Style also hails as the founder of First Class Dancers and has been affiliated with several other ventures including DanceJA and RepJA. Latonya Style flexibility and versatility has made her a fixture on the worldwide stage while inspiring many other female dancers to aspire for greater achievement within the performing arts.
5. Global Bob – If there’s one dancer who can directly credit his stage moniker to Bogle, itsChad ‘Global Bob’ Torrington as he was dubbed the name Dancer Spongebob by the legendary entertainer.
That moniker came after he crafted the popular Spongebob dance and has since emerged as an international figure, featuring alongside highly-acclaimed artistes such as Shaggy (Street Bullies Medley), Voicemail (Gangalee), Carlene Davis (Ambassadors for Christ) and Tifa (Bottom of the Barrel). Furthermore, Global Bob copped several accolades for his work including the last two Best International Dancer (Male) awards via CariVibez TV while also receiving honors fromDanceJA and RETV for his efforts.
Not only does this Ardenne High School alum have a strong physical connection with his fans, his spiritual connection has also been well-documented, helping Global Bob to overcome all adversities and temptations associated with the music industry.
4. Mystic – A dangerous yet enthralling combination of sex appeal and flexibility made Mystic Davis a borderline legend within dancing circles before turning 25 years old.
Several video appearances fill Mystic’s resume including Going On by Gnarls Barkley, Dutty Love (Sean Kingston and Nicki Minaj), Go Go Wine (Vybz Kartel) and, most recently,Summer Is Here (Beenie Man) just to name a few Working with so many of music’s elite has made Mystic a must-see performance artist while also helping her emerge from the shadow of her well-renowned mother and foundation Reggae artiste, Joy White.
Mystic, like many other dancers, has tried her hand behind the microphone as she’s recorded a number of singles including You & I as well as Wine Up while also appearing alongside Leftsidefor the sultry hit, Want Yuh Body.
Mystic’s work has amassed several noteworthy accolades throughout her career including three straight Best Female Dancer wins at the Youth View Awards and a HYPE TV award for the same category. This success culminated in Mystic forming her own OptiMystic dance company as she continues to elevate her skills as a choreographer while teaching several eager students some of her tricks.
Having taught Usain Bolt a few dance moves herself, Mystic maybe deserves her own record for fastest rise to super stardom within her profession.
3. Ding Dong – Most people became familiarized with Ding Dong when he appeared alongsideVoicemail and Bogle on the classic dance track, Ready To Party. From there, Ding Dong’s star grew as he founded the aforementioned Ravers Clavers crew while also drawing tags as Bogle’s ‘air apparent’ given his ostentatious style and effortless ingenuity on the dance floor. Amongst his creations are the Chaka Chaka, Badda Dance, Bad Man Forward, Summer Swing and theSweep as he soon redefined Jamaica’s dancing standard while getting even the most unlikely to move their feet, most notably, Bounty Killer.
Showing his dual threat, Ding Dong also perfected his craft as a musician, crafting the instant summer classic, Holiday, which remains one of Dancehall’s most popular songs to date.
2. John Hype – Perhaps the greatest rival to Bogle’s throne, John Hype quickly ascended towards top-tier status as a dancer during the late 90s and early 2000s.
Hype became Bogle’s most decorated protégé whilst a member of the Black Roses Crew and created classic dance moves such as Signal Di Plane, Higher Level, Pon Di River, Blazey, Crazy Hype and Chaplin which are still performed today across Dancehall sessions and concerts across the world. Hype also became a fixture in several videos for Dancehall stalwarts such asElephant Man and Beenie Man while regularly appearing at the popular Hot Mondays series.
However, with that fame brought along tension as his growing status soon caused friction between himself and Bogle, essentially signaling a rivalry that bared some similarity to Bounty Killer andBeenie Man. When Bogle was shot and killed in 2005 following the Weddy Weddy Wednesdays stage show in Constant Spring, John Hype’s popularity somewhat dipped as many speculated whether or not the decorated protégé was directly involved in his mentor’s murder. But as time passed, John Hype soon won over his fan base once again, appearing in more videos and stage shows alongside Beenie Man while maintaining his strong performing reputation worldwide.
1. Bogle – Of course, no one tops the master of dancing within not only Dancehall circles, but Jamaican culture.
Bogle helped introduce Beenie Man to the mainstream in the video for World Dance while also getting Dancehall enthusiasts to perform his self-titled move, the Bogle dance during the early 1990s. Additionally, he birthed a litany of popular dances such as the Willie Bounce, Wacky Dip, Weddy Weddy, Jiggy, Sesame Street, Zip It Up, Stuckie and Row Like a Boat.
Bogle coined several phrases still used by the masses today including ‘Fashion over Style,’ ‘Gal ova Gun,’ ‘Oh So Badly’ and ‘Yellow Tape, Crime Scene.’ Unfortunately, that last saying ironically turned out to be his undoing as Bogle was shot and killed in front of a Texaco gas station in Constant Spring.
Bogle’s death shocked and saddened the Jamaican music community and forever changed the complexion of his profession. Several musicians, from Voicemail to Elephant Man, RDX andDing Dong have publicly paid homage to Bogle’s moves in their songs while keeping his spirit alive.
Without doubt, Bogle was an innovator and a trailblazer and put Dancehall music on the map during its earliest stages. He and Carlene were sure Dancehall’s King and Queen respectively, as far as the dancing fratenity is concerned.
Unquestionably, Bogle is one of Jamaica’s greatest products within entertainment.