Owen Junior aka OJ is a sweet, kind, badass dancer. Him and his crew, TeamCautiion, throw down on the dance floor. Although from May Pen, Clarendon, they traveled all the way to Kingston to teach at DanceJA the day I met them. I'm not going to lie, it was a challenging class. These boys are quick and they teach like they think, fast. And rumor has it they are the only group in Jamaica that break dances. Check out their dope dancing on Youtube, Instagram, and Facebook. Please read on for insights into the dancehall from OJ's perspective.
1. When did you first start going to the dancehall? How old were you? What was that like? What did you see? If it's been years since your first party, what is it like in comparison to that first time?
I first started dancehall 6 years ago when I was 16. It was very difficult for me knowing that people never realize or noticed me because I didn't understand the craft as yet and I wasn't as good at it. I saw that I needed to work hard and smart to actually live my dreams. It's [the new parties] a lot of different songs and messages have changed and when I use to see one drop dances at event now you're seeing choreographies and the vibe was a lot more mello compared to now.
2. Who is your favorite dancehall artist? Why?
Jahmiel is my favorite dancehall artist because he sings about the struggles he faces as an entertainer growing up, encouraging the young generation to live positive and his songs have a beat that makes you want to dance to it and as a dancer it's really inspiring for me to enjoy listening and dancing to his songs.
3. What is your favorite DH step? Who created it? Why do you like it? Can you describe it?
My favorite dancehall step is bucky bounce, and it was created by Ghetto Legacy dancers. I am fond of it because of its groove and you can change the dynamics of the movement from fast to slow and still keep the movement quality and it's easy to do, where you can teach anyone in the moment, just to enjoy a small portion of fun and laughter teaching to others who not educated in the field.
4. Which DH steps have you created?
I have created smooth kill, donkey kick, tun up, on time, box lunch, top groove, and others. For donkey kick, the inspiration, I remember a friend always showing me a head bouncing motion that I find really fascinating and decided to make it more interesting so I took the time to add a different groove to it and add a kick with it so the movement can be both lower and upper body part movement and it worked for me and the name fit so I worked with it.
5. What inspires you as a dancer?
I draw my inspiration from different aspects of life, I could be sitting and hearing the birds chirp and start to make a riddim around its sound and imagine myself in a beautiful scenery and formulate a concept and then try to make it reality than just a figment of my imagination. So it's very unpredictable because I try to be open minded to all things and try to find that creative aspect for all things and make it art.
6. Who is your favorite dancer other than yourself and why?
Blacka di Danca is because of his consistent hard work and dedication to the craft. He gives people the proper respect and communicates with his fan base as much as he can. The quality work he puts out is incredible and the passion is evident in all his work.
7. What do you think about the international DH following?
I think it's growing immensely at that, but I don't think we the dancers from Jamaica get the necessary credit for our work, but respect and demand on dancehall is getting larger and larger.
8. Do you have any insights or advice for other/future dancers?
My advice to future dancers is that they should always be open minded to learn and when given an opportunity to perform try to get video coverage and watch it over and find something different each time to develop and make better and be consistent in everything you do because it take years to be a dancer, and it takes hard work so know what you want and go for it like it's as important as oxygen.
"As important as oxygen" I absolutely love that. If you care about something (for us, it is dancehall) your dedication to it is as important as oxygen. You can't live without it. Beautifully said.