From the ‘Bogle’ to the latest ‘Willy Bounce’ and ‘Dutty Wine’, dance has become a fixture in Jamaica’s very rich culture. One of the main ambassadors of Jamaica’s rich dance culture is Dance Theatre Xpressionz. They have taken the dance world by storm by giving Dancehall new meaning.
Dance Theatre Xpressionz, which began six years ago, came out of a class of graduates from the Excelsior Community College. Headed by Orville Hall, with Shelly-Ann Marie Callum, Stacy-Ann Facey, Sherene Davis, and Jhaenelle Young, who all majored in Dance, they formed this dynamic group, whose objective is to give Dancehall a face locally and internationally, and to portray dancehall in a more positive light.
“The dances in Dancehall can be done in a decent way…it’s not just about mastering the moves, but about embracing and knowing what the culture of dance is all about,” said Orville Hall.
Dance Theatre Xpressionz is focused on making a mark both locally and internationally. They have begun to do this by giving lectures at the UWI, Excelsior Community College, and other institutions to re-educate persons about the history of dance, how it became such a treasured part of Jamaican heritage, and that every modern Jamaican dance can be linked back to the ways our ancestors danced in the 1920s, the time in which Dancehall began.
“It’s not just because we are a naturally creative people when it comes to dance, it’s in our blood, it is a talent that has been handed down from our ancestors. The culture is being given away. True dancing needs to be exposed,” commented Orville Hall, as he spoke of how Jamaica’s culture is being sold out by people professing to be dancers who make Dancehall seem to be only about learning the moves and being the first to come with the latest dance craze.
In their quest to expose the true meaning of Dancehall, they have done a number of shows in their six years together. A normal routine for the group would take from 20 minutes to a day, depending on the event. Shows such as the recent Richie Stephens’ Take Me Away and Powerful Women Performing For Charity, were a success. They are the resident dancers for Backyaad Crack Up and they have been booked for Sting, Reggae Sumfest and Reggae Sunsplash. They have also worked with artistes like Jimmy Cliff, Ric Roc, Vybz Kartel, Bling Dawg, Shaggy, Richie Stevens, Elephant Man, Abijah, and Mr. Vegas, to name a few.
Doing what they do best, Dance Theatre Xpressionz aims to put a positive light on Dancehall and to educate others that Dance is an art… an ‘xpression’.