DanceNew York

Waack to the Future: Africa– House of Yes, New York City

Producer: Princess Lockeroo

Reviewer: Carrie Lee O’Dell

Vogue and Waack are dance styles that originated in the LGBTQ communities of New York and Los Angeles during the 1970s and 1980s. Madonna’s 1990 hit “Vogue” and the David Fincher-directed music video introduced voguing to mainstream America; the scene is still very much alive, as evidenced by Princess Lockerooo’s annual vogue and waack dance battle event, Waack to the Future. Brooklyn’s House of Yes hosted the international dance festival this past weekend, where upwards of 40 dancers from all over the world participated in vogue and waack dance battles. This year’s theme was Africa and the waack battle final featured live West African drumming.

Waack to the Future featured performances by House of Amazon, Djoniba Dance Center, Seku McMiller, Omari Mizrahi, NuTribe Dance Collective, Pixel Chick, and the cast of OSCAR @ The Crown. The main event, however, was the dance battle. Waack dancers danced individually, with over 40 dancers in the first round; 16 dancers were selected from the first round and from those, 8 dancers were selected for a seven to smoke dance battle finale. The waack battles were interspersed with vogue battles–many dancers participated in both. Vogue battles differed from the waack competitions in that two vogue dancers danced at the same time with one eliminated in each round. Princess Lockerooo hosted the waack battles, while Leggah La Bella hosted vogue. Judges were Nubian Nene for waack and The Legendary Omari Mizrahi for vogue. Legendary MikeQ Qween Beat was the DJ.

Waack to the Future is part competition, part performance, part education, and all-inclusive. Princess Lockerooo, Leggah La Bella, and The Legendary Omari Mizrahi made sure that audience members who were not familiar with the history and style of vogue and waack had plenty of context to understand what was going on. Performances by dance companies and individual artists provided the opportunity to experience vogue and waack outside of competition, but the final battles were the highlight of the evening. The waack finale, with live drumming from Djoniba Dance Center was particularly thrilling.

This was a long evening out, but easily accessible even to folks who never had to watch Paris Is Burning in a college art history course. Those hoping for judges and hosts to throw shade à la Billy Porter in Pose were surely disappointed, though, as the hosts and judges were consistently kind and supportive to all of the dancers. The sense of community among the dancers was clear as well; every battle ended in a hug. Waack to the Future only happens once a year, but it’s worth the wait.

Reviewed on 27 July 2019 | Photo Credit: Kenny Rodriguez

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The American team is under the editorship of John McRoberts. The Reviews Hub was set up in 2007. Our mission is to provide the most in-depth, nationwide arts coverage online.

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