Dancehall star Ding Dong is lamenting the fact that Jamaican Dancehall dancers and creators of dance moves have, over the years, for the most part, been mistreated and sidelined, despite their critical importance to the genre and culture.
In light of this, the Good Ting Dem artist says he conceptualized the music video for his latest song, Bounce, as a landmark project, in a bid to promote unity, showcase Jamaican dancers and professionalize the dancing sector of the music industry, as in many cases dancers are taken advantage of by artists, who use them for their talent, yet treat them like the proverbial poor cousins.
“Becaw wi get ill-treatment nuff time enuh, as dancers – and overlooked enuh, when a we a di life a party enuh. Den nuh we buss nuff song. A dancers buss nuff song, caw if di dancers dem naw dance to yuh song, den if yuh put out one song pon tik-tok an dem ting den a who a dance to it? A nuh you,” he said.
The Bounce music video features more than 20 of Jamaica’s youngest rising Dancehall dancers, and, according to Ding Dong, was of such importance that he ensured that a formal sit-down meeting was held with the dancers who were recruited, a professional choreographer was contracted, and all the dancers were paid as they ought.
He said that the preparations for the Bounce video, and the end result, among other things, should be used as a template for dancers and for persons who want to contract their services, on how future business dealings ought to be conducted.
“My aim was to show people across the world that dancers from Jamaica, the creators of Dancehall moves can create a music video of this magnitude and this level from Jamaica to the world because they shy away from using us because they feel like we are not professional enough fi use us. They feel like seh wi nuh have no visa weh wi can travel. Everybaddy have visa now, seen? Wi just a show dem and wi a show our artiste that have certain exposure that you can have the confidence, in using as the creators, choreograph a full video,” he explained.
“I treat dem on a professional level where we teck care a dem an mek sure dem get pay and everything, meck sure dem comfortable and everyting, because we want them to know their value. If we don’t value ourselves or if I don’t treat them with the value and the respect that dem deserve, who else gwine dweet?” Ding Dong said during a recent Onstage interview.
Ding Dong explained as well that dancers oftentimes are unaware of their value, and so are not paid what they are worth, unlike their overseas counterparts who have formal contractual arrangements and management, whom artists who require their services have to go through. As such he says Dancehall dancers have to “stand firm” in order to get what they deserve.
“An wi haffi value wiself as dancers, and people weh approach dancer – because if oonu approach industrials out deh, oonu caan even talk to di dancers. Some a oonu artiste – oonu haffi talk to management and dem people deh and den dem call people,” he said.
“Suh we haffi value wiself, because some dancers – mi understand di ting rough and ray tae tae… because wi haffi look a ting fi pot food on the table. Sometime yuh haffi draw salt through wooden spoon until yuh can manage yuhself. A dat mi granny teach mi.
Suh at di end a di day wi haffi do weh wi haffi do fi live and survive but at di same time too, wi haffi value wiself an know wi worth,” he added.
Ding Dong said that it was of critical importance to him that the dancers, names were listed in the credits which came at the end of the video, something which is always overlooked by many artistes.
“If you notice even the video, I tell the director meck sure seh everybody is credited at the end of the video. Make sure you put their names on it: dancers. Because we are lacking that too as well. A lot of these music videos, a di dancers dem meck oonu music video good… put credits inna di video caw people read credits inna video more time enuh. Suh even dat, as simple as dat – credits, as dancers,” he added.