Koolaz shares dancehall culture abroad

February 22, 2019
Jamaica-born, NY-based dancer Odane ‘Koolaz’ Stewart of BG Dancerz.
Contributed Jamaica-born, NY-based dancer Odane ‘Koolaz’ Stewart of BG Dancerz.
Jamaica born, NY-based dancer Odane 'Koolaz' Stewart of BG Dancerz.
Jamaica born, NY-based dancer Odane 'Koolaz' Stewart of BG Dancerz.

Dancehall doesn't and cannot exist without dancers. The dancers carry the knowledge, steps and techniques to make the art come alive. And if you are a Jamaican, "it is a plus for the individuals learning the moves", says Koolaz.

As a founding member of popular dance crew BG Dancerz, Koolaz first took dancing to the streets in 2012, and he has been making waves since then. Despite two failed attempts to make it into the finals of 'Dancin' Dynamites' with the team, Koolaz did not stray from his goals.

"Maybe 'Dancin' Dynamites' was not for me (or the group). The focus soon changed to the streets, sessions like Boasy Tuesdays and Mojito Mondays, and from there, the links were made," said Koolaz, whose real name is Odane St Peter Stewart.

"Other dancers, one in particular, Latonya Style, gave us the opportunity to teach at the Dance JA Academy, and it helped with the elevation of the group."

Now, Koolaz, who was born and raised in Bull Bay, St Andrew, and currently resides in the US, proudly wears the title of professional dance instructor/choreographer and hosts his own classes in the Caribbean, as well as in North, Central and South American countries. He also boasts being part of Hood Celebrityy's Walking Trophy video choreography, and he has also worked with other American celebrities, including Nick Cannon and Solange Knowles.

According to the creator of dance moves like 'Crazis' and 'Dancehall Jackson' (a collaboration among all the BG Dancerz members), he misses being in Jamaica. But while he is away, he will continue to spread the culture, even Patois.

"For me, sharing the culture with other people is a great feeling. Some people might think dancehall is the music alone, but it's not just that. Listen the music, pree the lyrics down to the fashion and the food. Right away, I let them know it is not about getting up and catching a one move. So if they can't manage the class, I encourage them to save and take a trip [to Jamaica] to see it for themselves," Koolaz said.

And while he is satisfied with his career as a dancer, Koolaz said that he also wants to get into acting.

But until then, he is making preparations to be in Montreal, Canada, next month to conduct a workshop and also has goals to put a dancehall dance group together to enter 'America's Got Talent' next year.

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