Dance tribute to Missy Elliott
The idea was to pay homage to Missy Elliott.
Denzel Amos and India Rayner exceeded their expectations.
The views and the likes on their social media feeds haven’t stopped climbing since they posted their dance tribute to the legendary American rapper last month.
The pair choreographed the production, assembled the costumes and then left the rest to filmmaker Marq Rodriguez while they showed off their moves with 11 handpicked dancers.
“My godsister, India, basically she came over my house one day and was like, ‘I have a dream. I want to do a Missy tribute’.“
Although neither Denzel, 27, nor India, 24, had ever taken lessons, they both loved to dance. It took roughly two years for them to come up with the moves in the tribute which is now playing out on YouTube, Instagram and Facebook.
“We’re not professionally trained. We just grew up dancing around our house. We never actually attended a dance school. We kind of just fell in love with dancing by watching Step Up movies. Our dream all our lives, was to be in a Step Up movie — we’re still working on that one,” laughed Denzel, who teaches hip-hop with United Dance Productions.
“Because we’ve been dancing all our lives, we basically just brainstormed in our living rooms. We started dancing and then she came up with all the costumes and stuff and we shouted out to different sponsors to help us pay for the costumes and one thing turned into another and we made the video.”
India went through the songwriter's list of 74 singles and picked the ones that made her want to move.
“For the song selection I just picked songs that really spoke to me in terms of what would make my body move,” she said. “For those where I was like, ‘Oh yeah, I need to do something to this.' It wasn’t really any strategic anything to it. I just picked what made me move and made me feel happy, just made me want to dance."
The first scene was shot in the basketball court across from Byrdies Café on Parsons Road, the second at Sui Generis, the Front Street dance studio.
For the third and final scene, the group headed west to Dockyard, the site of the 2017 America’s Cup.
"We started choreographing for this project a long time ago and about two months ago we started practising," Denzel said.
"We’re part of a dance group already so we knew some dancers but we wanted to reach out to others. So we basically just handpicked which dancers we wanted in the video and then we contacted them and asked them if they were available to do a dance video."
Rated E, the group they dance with, hasn’t been able to perform in public because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
"We usually do the May 24 parade. We also have done concerts; we’ve opened up for people who have done concerts. But we've mainly been in parades and stuff.
"Basically this was all about our love of dance. And since the parade wasn’t happening and obviously we can’t do much, we were losing out on our dancing because we love to dance. So we said let's just do a video and we can show people [our dancing] that way."
At the heart of it all was a desire to pay tribute to a living "legend".
"Her music and everything about her is so creative. And in her videos she always has dancers and they're always killing it. They're always wearing crazy costumes so we basically, literally, were inspired by her."
The hope is that somehow the video captures the rapper's attention.
"The first draft was sent to us in September. I literally shed a tear," Denzel said. "It was beyond what I expected.
"Now we're trying to blast the video so she can see it at least once."
Locally, it has gotten a lot of notice.
"More than we expected. [Two days after posting on September 30] my phone is still going off with people that love the video."
Both Denzel and India hope that their video encourages other dancers.
"I don’t know what I want to do from here. I just want to keep creating and hopefully make more videos, make people move and get excited," India said.
"We would like to do more and get more exposure and get out there and hopefully get more dancers, other dancers than the dancers in this one. We would like to just encourage more people to come out and dance and want to be a part of it. And then we will see where it goes."
The two are grateful for the help they received from the many supporters listed at the end of the tribute.
"But we definitely would like to thank Elvira Douglas for the big help in the production of the video as well as the videographer, who pieced it all together, and the dancers. We definitely couldn’t have done it without them."
Follow Denzel Amos, @dt_4lyfe, on Instagram and Facebook