Dancehall Dance in 2018 is at a level in which maybe no one could have imagined. You can now find classes in the majority of the major cities in the world. Not only can you find Jamaican Dance but the food, the culture, and the people. We are everywhere! The last two interviews I took you guys to New York, which many know has a large Caribbean community and then over to Sweden which may have been very surprising to some but today I'm taking it back to the states to introduce you to Tango Leadaz. Dancing since a young age, Tango has developed his own style in the LA Dancehall scene and doesn't plan on stopping with just dance.
Who is Tango Leadaz?
Tango Leadaz is a dancer/choreographer/creative director/actor that specializes in Dancehall and other Caribbean/afro styles of dance.
When did you start dancing and why? And was Dancehall what you started with first? Who were your influences?
I have been dancing all my life. Way before I even knew dancing was really a thing. When I was younger I used to love watching Micheal Jackson videos and I would always try to imitate his moves. I was the entertainment whenever we had guests over the house because I was "such an amazing little dancer". I didn't know what they were talking about at the time. All I knew was that it felt good, it felt natural, and I had a knack for it. Dancehall was my first style because it was the culture I was born into. Although I was living in America I had Jamaican parents and grew up in a Jamaican household. So Reggae and Dancehall was the primary music that was played and the first style of dance I was doing. Rhythm and moving my waist was a natural thing that I just figured everyone could do. Wasn't until I started partying frequently in high school that I came to the realization that this was a thing. I saw the joy that I could bring to someone just by me moving and just enjoying the vibe. I decided that I would take this gift more seriously. But even then I wasn't thinking professionally. I was just partying more and dancing anytime or anywhere I could. Wasn't until about 5 years ago I made the decision to take what I love and make a living off of it. It was then I started teaching classes and setting myself up to move to LA and make dance my career. I had a couple of influences back in the day. Main ones being Micheal Jackson, James Brown then came Bogle. Now my influences are dancers that range from many different styles like bboying, krump, locking etc.
You've had the opportunity to work with many artists such as Afro beats star Wiz Kid all the way to Pop Star Gwen Stafani. What has been a highlight for you?
I have been extremely blessed to have worked with so many influential artists this early in my career. I am grateful, and to me, everyone of them is a highlight. If I had to only pick one I would have to say the Distance project with Omarion. I had the opportunity to fly out to the beautiful country of South Africa and choreograph his video for the song "Distance". I've always wanted to visit Africa so this was a real excitement for me alongside the fact I was working with an artist I've been inspired by ever since they entered the music scene. Getting to see firsthand how beautiful and how rich the culture and the people were there filled me with so much inspiration. It inspired me and gave me a yearning to see more and learn more about different people and cultures outside of the ones that I am apart of or familiar with. It inspired me to want to travel the globe and see all the other beautiful places that exist but aren't often spoken about. Learning about the history and tribes like the Zulus made me want to know more about African culture African history and how it influenced and affected all other cultures throughout the world. The people are nice and the style of music from SA is insane. The vibes and energy there was unforgettable and up to this day, South Africa is one of my favorite places.
Over the last few years we have seen a fusion of Dancehall music into mainstream pop music, have you seen more and more people take interest in the dance or did nothing change?
Over the past few years, the fusion of Dancehall music into mainstream pop music has created a large interest in Dancehall dance once again. Some of it for good some of it for bad but there it has been an increase in interest none the less. Some dancers will come take a class or two just to get a popular dancehall move that they can go back and put in their hip-hop choreography so they can be current with the new wave or to say they can do dancehall. Then you have the people, that have really contacted to the sound and the feeling, that want to dive deeper and know more. Those are the ones that begin taking Dancehall classes frequently, also researching on their own more about the dance and the culture. Those are the people I find end up falling in love with Dancehall. They even start to make frequent trips to Jamaica to experience the culture from the source. A lot of these people wouldn't have even been introduced to it if it wasn't for the little piece of Dancehall they heard in their current favorite mainstream pop song.
You've had the opportunity to teach overseas and different cities what has been the biggest lesson you've learned from traveling and teaching?
Traveling and teaching overseas has been a blessing for me. Two of my favorite things and the fact I get to do them both at the same time is still surreal to me. I've learned countless amounts of lessons but the biggest would probably don't take Dancehall for granted. To really appreciate it because there are people in the world who really want it and really seek it but it's not easily accessible to them. Dancehall is so full of style, flavor, slang, food and there are people that would go to great lengths to just get a moment of that energy. So it made me really appreciate and even take further interest in my culture even more.
What can we look forward to from you in the New Year?
So in the New Year expect much more creative dance videos, more comedy, and acting skits. More world tours and working with more influential music artists that I haven't worked with as of yet.
With your acting and comedy skits,do you eventually want to get into acting on tv and movies as well?
Yes definitely. What many people don't know is that I was a theater major. So acting is something I love just as much as dance. So this year I plan to give some more attention to the acting side as well as dance. I do plan for television and movies definitely. I did some acting in a Comcast commercial last year and I really enjoyed the process.
What does Dancehall mean to you?
for me means self-expression, it means freedom. Dancehall to me means no matter your background or where you are from let's come together and unite under these dance moves. Dancehall to me means strength, it means impact. Dancehall to me means we are a very small island but our influence on the world and its people is colossal. Dancehall to me means life.