When we hear the word “vogue,” often we think of fashion magazines or pop stars, but what about dance? Vogue dance has been around for a few decades now and has definitely impacted the dance world as a whole.
Vogue dance was born out of the Harlem LGBT ballroom scene that developed in the 1960s. A safe haven for New York’s subversive queer community, the ballroom scene is definitely different than what our customers might think of when it comes to ballroom dance. Then and now, the ballroom scene has functioned as a place where people who are typically outcast from society can go to be accepted regardless of race, gender, or any other reason society usually discriminates. Vogue dance was somewhat of a social protest and a way for people to express their frustrations over the unfair situations they experienced on a daily basis.
The modern form of voguing didn’t evolve until the late 80s, and didn’t become popular until the 1990 release of Madonna’s Vogue and the award-winning film Paris is Burning which centred around the world of underground ball dance. The official inventor of voguing is disputed, but a very popular story claims that Paris Dupree (a highly influential figure in the ball scene,) was in the club one night and pulled out a copy of Vogue magazine and began imitating the models’ poses to the beat. Soon after, the whole club was following suit, and the style of voguing was created.
While there are three subgenres of vogue dance, (old way, new way, and fem,) there are some steps involved in all three that are quite distinct and recognizable. Inspired by hieroglyphs and the poses of models in fashion magazines, voguing features a lot of sharp, bold movements that are mixed in with intense sequences of high-octane hand movements. Athleticism is a large part of this style and is displayed in some of the more gymnastic movements like dips (commonly referred to as death-drops or shablams in the competitive dance world our customers know and love,) in which the dancer suddenly falls backward and catches themself with a leg before hitting the ground. Other famous moves from the vogue dance world include catwalking and duckwalking, both of which are often seen in popular competitive hip hop.
Since vogue dance was created and practiced in a relatively concentrated environment, the people who were involved were able to have a large influence over how the dance evolved. Paris Dupree is widely respected as one of the pioneers of vogue dance and was the creator of the ball that was featured in the film by the same name, Paris is Burning. She essentially gave a massive platform to young dancers to improve and display their craft. As the founding member of the Legendary House of Dupree, Paris continued to teach and foster young talent for decades before her death in 2011.
If Paris Dupree is credited with bringing vogue dance to light, Willi Ninja is the one who turned it into an art. Willi Ninja quickly became one of the most recognizable names in the ballroom scene for having a level of precision and skill that had never been seen before. He was inspired by many things, including martial arts which is the reason for the name Ninja. On top of a winning dance technique, he had a sparkling personality that gained him many loving followers. His success in the ball scene eventually led to him influencing the fashion scene, coaching supermodels and celebrities like Naomi Campbell and Paris Hilton on their walks. He also modelled in fashion shows around the globe for famous designers like Jean Paul Gaultier and Thierry Mugler.
This is only the tip of the iceberg of a bright and colourful world, so we encourage you to do some further research if you’re interested. If you have any comments or questions about dancewear, feel free to call, send us an email, or drop by the store to speak with a dancewear professional.