Dancers' Paradise: Lady K spreads love for dancehall in Belgium
Belgian dancer Lady K (K-Roll) is no stranger to dancehall queen (DHQ) contests and is among eight contestants who will vie for Saturday's Belgian DHQ title at the finals being held in Brussels, Belgium, where she plans to spread her love for dancehall.
"I started to compete to challenge myself, get over some shyness, be more confident and represent myself," Lady K said. "My goal for this Saturday is to spread the love and the respect I have for dancehall with humility."
Lady K placed second in her first DHQ competition in Belgium last year and copped the third spot in the international contest held in The Netherlands in 2017. She hopes to inspire dancers in her country to learn about the history of dancehall.
"A lot of people teach, but don't wanna learn and know nothing about the culture," she said. "I want to show that at 35 years old you are still and always a student. There is no shame in accepting that we have to learn. Learning is beautiful, but a lot of people use dancehall for hype and don't care about Jamaica. Saturday I will represent what I learned and still learn every time I come to Jamaica."
Lady K, who was born in La Louviere as Carole Tilman, said it is impossible to recall a moment in her life without dance as she started dancing professionally at two years old. She appreciates all dance forms, and this is shown in her professional repertoire which includes ballet, jazz, hip hop, cabaret, pole dance and belly dance.
However, Lady K said she was "reborn" when she visited Jamaica in 2016 to explore her interest in dancehall.
"What attracted me to dancehall is that it's not a dance, it's a culture: the history, the knowledge, the female side, the male side, the music, the people who live through dancehall," she said.
"Dancing is a blessing for me so I found dancehall really fascinating and I respect it. Through dancehall I've been able to work on myself and find myself, so it's spiritual at the same time.
Dancehall is one of many dance forms taught at her dance studio, Studio Feeling, in her hometown. But her love for dancehall comes at a price.
"Some people think you have no respect for yourself and say very bad words because we shake, split and we are sexy. It's a real problem here," she shared.
"I'm judged by some of them because they don't like the way I dress. I know that some parents don't wanna bring their kids in my dance school, they say that they don't like what I represent. It's hard sometimes because I live by dance and it's not good for the business. But I know who I am, and I know my background and what I teach so quality is better than quantity."
Meanwhile, she hails Bogle, DHQ Carlene, Boysie Roses, Orville Hall, Dancing Rebel and Latonya Style as some of her favourite dancers, and she also hosts workshops with Jamaican dancers at her school. Her current workshop, Dancehall Feeling Formation, features Boysie Roses, Crazy Hype, Sri Lanka, Global Bob, Dansa Bling and Godzilla Trice.