Having danced their way into the dancehall kingdom through the Red Label International Dancehall Queen competition, the queens are putting their crowns to good use through the ‘We Submit Our Crowns’ praise dance evangelism charity project.
California’s resident dancehall queen, Moiika Stanley, spoke to The Sunday Gleaner recently about the work she has done uniting dancehall queens from all areas to work together for charity.
Stanley noted the competitive nature of the dancehall industry, especially among the queens, as well as the often ‘slack’ image given to them, and decided it was time to put past grudges aside to, not just clean up the image of the queens, but to help others.
“God gave me a vision where I would get the best of the best of dancehall queens to get together to first acknowledge our Creator and bring glory to Him. Second, to work together for something positive and learn from each other. Also, to use our fan bases and following to generate some money for charities that are in the communities that we derive from (Jamaica and Africa).”
Stanley, who was California’s Dancehall Queen from 2007-2010 and was runner-up in Jamaica in 2008, has included 12 dancers in her initiative.
There is Jamaica’s 2007 Dancehall Queen, MoMo; the 2008 winner, Smallie; United States’ champion, Mika Dymond; the Midwest Dancehall Queen, Candi, Boston’s best, Lina Legacy, who also placed third in Jamaica’s 2007 competition; Virginia’s Dancehall Queen, Meka Hype; Dancerzblvd principal dancer Likkle Bit; and two non-dancehall queen celebrity dancers in Fina B and Sharee Attitude.
The group of dancers has come together to stage four performances.
The first was held yesterday in California at the Corona Community AME Church, the second will be in Maryland on March 12, while the third will be held at a sister church in Harlem, New York, the following day. The final show is to be held in Jamaica in April.
According to Stanley, the proceeds will be donated to the Ayalabe Classroom Building project in Africa and the Missionaries of the Poor, Jamaica.
Last December, the group flew to California for their first rehearsal where they shared stories and did what they do best – dance.
“We shared stories of hurt and disappointment in the industry and how we could improve it by raising the standards for ourselves and demanding more professionalism from the dancehall industry,” said Stanley.
The 2007 California Dancehall Queen taught the group liturgical praise dance, contemporary ballet, and traditional African dance. The group also built a collaborative dancehall piece to Busy Signal’s Praise and Worship and Elephant Man’s What a Mighty God.
“We also did a photo shoot with Ge’Monii Entertainment to show the dancehall queens in a different, less sexually suggestive light,” explained Stanley.
“As a Christian dancehall queen, I felt like I needed to be doing more to bring God glory, and I also feel that I am wasted talent if I am not using my talent to improve the industry I am in,” said Stanley.
According to the Christian queen, her counterparts dance for many reasons.
“Some have family issues, issues of past abuse, and I felt that people needed to hear the women behind the crowns,” Stanley said.
With that in mind, the dancehall queen came up with the name ‘We Submit Our Crowns’.
“… symbolising us putting down the queenship to relate to one another and ultimately bring glory to God,” she said.
Stanley is excited about the work the queens are doing and says the response thus far has been good.
“The response has been overwhelmingly positive. Women have come from all walks of life sharing their stories, and have found comfort that they might not have if we came together for, let’s say, a Dancehall Queen competition in Jamaica. It’s just a different kind of spirit,” she said.