Dancehall Queen Yaminah Legohn Teaches Empowerment Through Dance
It's more than sexual. It's dominance, power and femininity
Pum pum shorts and glittery tops adorn dancehall queens in clubs and on stages. But this world is often misunderstood, questioned and shamed. Dancer and dancehall instructor Yaminah Legohn is creating a space to teach how this provocative, yet powerful dance style is empowering women and men.
Hailing from Los Angeles, Calif., Yaminah Legohn is reframing the culture of dancehall music and dance at Cumbe: Center for African and Diaspora Dance by teaching new dancers and enthusiasts how to harness their inner goddesses while giving their bodies a great workout.
"Dancehall is a Jamaican dance style and it's an expressive dance," Yaminah says. "The people who were creating the steps early on were men. Women in dancehall, you see them in the pum pum shorts and whining and ticking, and butts are flying and all that. When I discovered it, it was something that was bold and sexy and sensual. But Dancehall comes with some misconceptions. Some people say it's inappropriate. They say it's too nasty or too sexual. But it's not just dancehall. Black women in general, we get a negative reputation."
Yaminah's goal with dancehall is to offer up a different way for people to interact with the style, and a different way to support women and give men the opportunity to experience the power of feminine sexuality in a safe space.
"Bruk OUT! A Dancehall Queen Documentary" is a film that follows a group of diverse group of dancehall queens from around the world as they practice and prepare for the biggest dancehall competition in the world. A common thread among the women participating, despite their international differences and economic backgrounds, was that they believed this art form was a way to demonstrate their femininity and power as women.
"Dancehall is empowerment. It's about being strong and dominant," Yaminah says. She believes dance is an opportunity for people to communicate and express themselves. Dancehall is a particular style that allows women and men to express their sexuality, technique and dance prowess safely and in a welcome environment.
The provocative, bold dance style originated in Jamaica in the 1970s. Dancehall emerged out of reggae, as a new style of club music. As electronic music production became more prominent, dancehall quickly developed its own sound and vibe with faster rhythms, creating a new dance culture.
While men dominated the dancehall world with lyrics that demonstrated their sexual machismo, women took to the music and dances in ways that essentially influenced movement across various dance genres like hip-hop.
Now, dancehall queens like Yaminah are showing the world how to whine and do "The Purple Touch." Class with Yaminah is a great girls night. Men are welcome, too. She demonstrates both masculine and feminine dance moves and creates a wonderful environment for fun, safe and sexy dance. It's a great way to embrace one's sensual side along with finding power in the dance form. Check her out at Cumbe: Center for African and Diaspora Dance on Wednesday nights at 7;00pm. She is also the founder and artistic director of Art Of Legohn Multimedia and arts and entertainment. Learn more at www.cumbedance.org.