BY KRISTA HENRY, Staff Reporter
Junko Bashment isues a not so subtle warning with a 'killer' outfit. - CONTRIBUTED
JAMAICAN DANCE FORMS are set to dominate Japan. Junko, who won the Dancehall Queen competition in 2002, has started teaching dancehall moves to students in Japan and has also produced a DVD explaining the moves and the lyrics of the songs.
According to Junko, "The dancing thing started from the end of 2001. We didn't have a dance school fi reggae and school principals tell mi seh a lot of people asked dem if dem can invite Junko (Bashment crew) to dem school. At that time, reggae music was still underground. After Mighty Crown win world cup, reggae get bigger, but not big like now," she said in an emailed response to THE STAR from Japan.
She continues, "Nuff Japanese people never knew that Jamaica always had popular dance. At that time it was 'Log On', 'Zip it Up', 'Angel Dance', 'On Line', 'Screechy', 'Higher Level' and 'Drive By'. So mi start teach people how fi dance reggae. Mi want get people to more enjoy being on di dance floor. I wanted to mek more people start dance like in Jamaica. If a lot of people dance, more other people would become interested in reggae music and reggae a go get bigger, bigger and bigger. That's what mi waan and also mi made video 'How Fi Dance Reggae Vol.1-Vol.3' from 2001. That was the first video of teaching dance," she said.
Dance queens locally say they support Junko's move, so long as it does not undermine them here in Jamaica.
'Mad Michelle', dancer and former Dancehall Queen, states, "Jamaicans are the founders of reggae and dancehall music, it's kind of good in a way that she is spreading our culture to other places."
Michelle continues, "the main reason of being a dancehall queen is to teach people the moves of the dancehall. As a dancehall queen you have to represent, you perform hard, can't be shy to do your thing. Jamaican dancehall moves sell all over the world, you can't wrong Junko as long as she don't do it in Jamaica. I would feel offended if she she took her Japanese people here to dance to prove a point. But she has the right to go and do her ting."
'Dancehall Diva' Keiva is also supportive of Junko's move. "Junko is somebody I really love as a dancer. If we Jamaican dancers are not doing it, if she discover it then fine, why not, we not doing it? I doubt though that they would allow us to come to Japan and do the same. Jamaica is a place where you can do anything."
However, 2004 Dancehall Queen, Stacy, states "To me I don't even care if she comes to Jamaica to start a school. It nah hurt my career, she a do her ting. I still work, my ting sell off. If she was taking away my business ... there's nothing she can do to stop my ting."
Junko is grateful that Jamaicans have not rejected her as a Queen, especially as she is from another country. She says "mi really appreciate that Jamaican people didn't refuse other nation people who enjoy reggae music and involve with Jamaican people".
Junko claims that her classes are very popular in Japan, so much so that other persons have started teaching as well. She says "mi used to have my class but mi get too busy. Mi no really stay one place. Mi stop class now but other dancers start teaching, and reggae get much bigger. Mi did some teaching through DVDs, people can learn from DVD also"
She continues "mi teach all kind, from latest dances to old school dance, over a 100 dances, I can't count. I teach songs and their meanings to my students dem and Jamaican culture because mi waan people understand Jamaica. You see a lot of Japanese people starting to visit Jamaica often. Some students enter competitions and win in Japan and they always enjoy dance floor. That is most important".
The passing of dancing legacy has crossed other dancers minds as well. Michelle says "I used to teach among my friends, rehearse and like in my community we would coordinate something. Maybe in the future I would do it again".
Keiva has also given it considerable thought. "I have considered opening a school, a whole lot of times, but its a lot of money," she says. "Junko loved it so much she had to teach. I remember one time I had an ad in the paper for Keiva auditions to have a group, there was so many people, so many calls".
However according to Keiva true dancing comes naturally. "Nobody ever taught me to dance, even my little 6 year old sister can do it and mi neva teach her. Real dancers can dance to anything. When the riddim come out and we body just start move. You look, learn and add your part".