FeatureInterviews

Riddim Rascals telling their story through Dance

Riddim Rascals is a dancehall Crew outta Cape Town dancing their way in and around the Mother city. The five ladies have been dancing and singing together for over 5 years before officially becoming a dancehall crew. They were present at most dancehall events in Cape Town, and the decision to form a unit came about when they realized how uncommon dancehall crews are in their vicinity and how they would stand out as a result. The name Riddim Rascalz was chosen because of love for ‘Mad Riddims’. It was the one thing that the dancers, singers, rapper and selector in the crew had in common.

The Riddim rascals are ambitious and intend to address the problem of the lack of dance facilities in Cape Town by establishing a dance gym of their own and continue to grow in membership, maintaining a space which is empowering for each woman that joins the ‘rascal’ crew. ‘Empowering each other is the core and Fundamental principle of our SisterHood.’ ~ LadySlice.

The members are:
Unathi ‘Lady Slice’ Jacobs ~Dancer / Dance facilitator / Vocalist ; Ms Legalize ~ Vocalist / Dancer ; Thandiswa ‘Pink P’ Gcwadi ~ Vocalist / Choreographer ; Kanyisa ‘Khanyi’ Mavi ~ Dancer / Rapper / Copywriter ; Thokozile ‘Gyal Weed’ Nwebani ~ Dancer / Selector

They took some time off their busy schedule to talk about their craft with MzansiReggae.

Eh it go so…

MzansiReggae (MR)
For those that do not know, what is a dancehall queen? Can you give any examples of dancehall queens in Mzansi?

Riddim Rascals (RR)
A Dancehall queen is a female who has won a Dancehall competition. The title also represents females who are well known within the Dancehall movement (musicians, selectors, dancers). Examples in Mzansi history include the likes of Abashante and Boom Shaka.

MR
Do you consider yourselves DHQ or Dancers / What would the difference be

RR
We refer to ourselves as dancers because that’s what we do, Dancehall is our core focus but even within Dancehall you get so many different influences from Ballet, Pantsula to traditional dances from the many African clans. Thus our formula is a mixture of these influences as well as the many dancehall styles.

MR
What is your relation as RR to Reggae Dancehall / don’t you find any contradiction?

RR
We are Singjayz / Vocalists, Selektors in the crew so there is no contradiction at all. The fact that we are introducing ourselves in different artistic ways within the Genre of Dancehall/ Reggae should excite people instead of intimidating them, we mean No Harm, just hardcore in our way of doing things. Our relation? That should be obvious, we are artists mainly Reggae/Dancehall, we also have a HipHop artist in the crew.

MR
What impression do you wish to create in the minds of those who witness your performances, and what impression do you think you actually create? Do you find that there are misconceptions about your art and that you are being judged because of this?

RR
Most people respect what we do, that’s what they tell us. These are people who appreciate the fitness that dance requires and are quite impressed at how comfortable we are in our bodies. It is impressive for them to watch because all 5 Rascalz differ in body size and shape but have the same amount of stamina and energy. Those who admire our ability have asked; ‘how do you do it?’ But obviously there is the minority that pass negative judgements at us because of our confidence, style and demeanor, these are people we consider insecure; because they are not comfortable in their own skin, it’s hard for them to overstand how other women can.

We have had to deal with people telling us that we not carrying ourselves like adults or parents, to others saying that we dance to gain the attention of men; but because our core support is in the Dancehall/Reggae community – people who fully understand the term Dancehall and Physical fitness in dancing – so we have been blessed with the support of those who understand our true motivations for dancing, so we are not shaken by the misconceptions, only encouraged and inspired by them.

MR
Dancehall moves almost always end up on international stage with well established artists but these moves are never traced back to dancehall; the fact that they have their origin in the dancehall is never acknowledged, an example would be the twerking phenomena. What is your take on this?

RR
According to our research most dance moves originate from different traditional dances of different African clans and other indigenous peoples around the world. So even with Dancehall, what people need to overstand is that its mainly that Drum that makes a person go wild, and we all know how Africans are healed and driven by that Drum, it causes you to let your body run loose, so the twerking phenomenon is a very old way of self expression amongst women,( any move that makes woman shake and gyrate attracts attention because of the curves), different names are given to similar or the same moves. Twerking in particular has therefore only been re-introduced via Hip-hop, but we have been Bubbling and doing the Full-Hundred in DanceHall and really don’t care much about mainstream artists; they are just doing their best to stay on top of their game, and they follow our trends because, dancehall rules. They are following our trend!

MR
What is a day like in a life of a dancer?

RR
Days differ, but a dancer definitely needs that hour or two to release (dance), especially if you’re not rehearsing regularly, but our days revolve around gym and a healthy diet.

MR
How do your parents feel about your involvement in dance? Do they know what you do?

RR
Our parents are the number-one reason we’re like this; all 5 of us are born from Artistic parents, so yes, they know exactly what we do and are Proud of us.

MR
..And your boyfriends?

RR
Our Boyfriends (Laughter), those are our top supporters, Most of our pictures and videos are taken by them, even when we’re having dance sessions at home, they monitor our progress etc. And they sometimes dance with us in the Dancehall.

MR
Last word…

RR
DANCE ya Butt Off, and please like us on FACEBOOK.

If you looking to book the Riddim Rascalz for your Dancehall party, Event, Music Videos etc,
email them at: Riddimrascalz@gmail.com.

RRrrrrr

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