Caroline Garcia, 26, takes two weekly dance classes at Cleveland Street’s Dance Central: reggaeton followed by dancehall, which the school is starting to dub the double ‘twerkout’. Full-time student Garcia has been perfecting her footwork for eight years, and she tells us the two styles have resonated with her more than other dances. “It’s amazing for women in particular to be able to express themselves and embrace their bodies in that way,” she says. “There’s no body type that’s most suitable for this type of dance. It really is for everybody.”
Remember the dancers in the music video ‘Trick Me’ by Kelis? Those guys were moving in the style of dancehall, a Caribbean dance that’s been popularised by pop stars from Sean Paul to Major Lazer. Reggaeton is a style that developed from dancehall, though it has a more Latin American flavour.
“There’s the booty aspect of it,” says Garcia. “I think you have to be comfortable, first of all, to be able to dance from your pelvis. Then you need to be able to do that in front of other people. Everyone in the class has really great energy and they’re encouraging.”
Time Out watches as 30 students pile into the first class, some dressed in Lycra and cotton T-shirts and others wearing big gold earrings, colourful tights and headscarves. The class begins with warming up the legs and pelvis with energetic shakes, bounces and thrusts. Garcia says it’s a misconception that ‘twerking’ is an easy thing to do.
“It requires a lot of skill. It’s difficult to isolate your body and your core as well. There’s this looseness, so then you get this lovely tilting motion. It takes time.” She adds that the movement has roots that run far deeper than Miley Cyrus. “This particular gesture can be traced back into African dancing and it has travelled throughout the African diaspora into the Caribbean, Latin America and into the States. Whether we’re looking at reggaeton, dancehall, baile funk in Brazil or bounce in New Orleans, this type of movement can be traced to lots of genres.”
Casual classes $17. Reggaeton: Mon 7.30-8.30pm. Dancehall: 8.30-9.30pm.