Updated: Aug 10, 2022
AfroConex is officially calling New York summer 2022 the Tany Ora + Shawtyme Show!! The energetic dancers recently started collaboration classes that have brought energy back to the New York City afro dance scene.
Both dancers have been omnipresent this summer, hosting parties and lighting up dance floors wherever they are. Le Bains’ weekly Dance Dance Dance party and the bi weekly Every Day People party are just two of the popular events they hosts, and where they can be seen effortlessly crossing genres with Azonto, Afro house, Amapiano and Dancehall moves.
The return of classes and the afro dance community to New York City is indeed welcomed. It is no secret the pandemic changed the dance landscape. And in no place was that more evident than in New York City. From 2017 -2019 Afro dance saw a meteoric rise in popularity in the city. Viral class videos and dope concept videos became the norm and contributed to the city being a mecca for Afro Dance in USA. That energy died with the pandemic and even with the city being fully re-opened with no covid restrictions, the energy of 2019 is not there. But that is changing thanks to Tany Ora and Shawtyme.
Their last collaboration class on July 7, was yet another milestone in solidifying the duos presence in the Afro dance scene of New York City. There is a fluidity in their collaborations that masks the delineation of their individual styles. While both dancers excel in their respective styles (Tany—Afrohouse and Amapiano. Shawtyme—Azonto and Dancehall) the beauty of their collaboration is the ease in which they fuse their styles together. Seamlessly creating heavy hitting choreography spanning several Afro genres.
But how did this collaboration come about and what is the vision ? We caught up with the two dancers to learn more.
AFROCONEX: First we want to congratulate you both on the success of the collaboration classes. They are well needed in the NYC Afro community. Whose idea was it to do a collaboration class ?
TANY: From the get go, Shawtyme was the one who suggested a collaboration class. When he decided to restart teaching at the beginning of the year, he brought up the idea of the collaboration classes. On my part, I was very happy to go on that journey with him because he is one of the dancers I really appreciate and can relate to in terms of dance language, vocabulary and feeling. Additionally, I have been wanting to collaborate with dancers here in NYC. I tried a couple of times but it never came to reality. So it was a dream come true to be able to finally share the creative process, the management and realization of a class with another talented dancer. I believe that joining forces is always a beautiful way for a dancer to challenge your craft and grow learning from each other, opening new horizons and creating pieces you wouldn't be able to do on your own.
SHAWTYME: It was my idea to do the collab class. I loved her energy and passion for dance, so I knew immediately a collab class would go through the roof and both cultures would be accepted equally.
AFROCONEX: We absolutely love how seamless your styles blend together. Tell us about your process. How long does it take you guys to create your collaboration pieces ?
TANY: As an AfroHouse dancer, I am use to very up beat songs. I have to say that Shawtyme challenges me a lot, music wise and I love that. Because it pushes my limits and forces me to adapt to new rhythms. Or to attack musicality another way and try to fit my dance style and vocabulary on something different. Creating with Shawtyme encourages me to not stay stuck in an AfroHouse only vocabulary and allows me to dig into my knowledge of Amapiano, Dancehall and Pantsula.
As far as the process itself, first we meetup, usually at Bryant Park. He usually comes with a couple of songs in mind for me to listen to and select one for our dance. Then, we start creating 8 counts. Fun fact, he always says that i'm better at starting the choreo because it is always stronger when I do so lol... so I am the one to start and we alternate each 8 counts. Once we have the maquette of it all, we take an overall look at the entire piece to see if it make sense. We finesse the transitions and record it for memory sake. The whole process takes more or less 2 hours, sometimes more, sometimes less depending on the mood and level of inspiration that day.
SHAWTYME: The process probably takes an hour if I’m in the right mindset to create choreography. It happens naturally, nothing is forced. This is why the chores come out so fire .
AFROCONEX: The collaboration classes have been well received with great turnout. How do you feel seeing the community embrace you so enthusiastically?
TANY: Honestly i'm in shock every single time. We already have 3 classes down and all three of them were well received. The feedback is always amazing and it fills my heart to see people truly happy after class. I would also add that it’s the fruits of both of us really being out there, taking part consistently in the nightlife, showing up, creating content and being genuine in our craft and on the dance floor; keyword: CONSISTENCY. We definitely share that real and raw passion for dance and i'm grateful to have been able to find that.
SHAWTYME: Honestly, It’s only right because New York needed that energy back. Especially with all the things happening in the world now, it’s great that people can get excited about one thing that makes them feel good, which is dance .
AFROCONEX: Sometimes the complexity of a choreography can be intimidating. But your classes have a welcoming no judgement feeling. What would you say to students who are intimidated to attend an afro dance class ? .
TANY: Class is THE place to learn; to train and to make mistakes. It is not a place to only show off what you already know. You have to be in an open state of mind. Ready to get different knowledge; some things you may already know and some you may not. It is a judgement free zone where each individual can go at their own pace; this is what I call open classes. They are dedicated to anyone willing to put the work in, as the breakdowns are very detailed and these are very much drilling classes. Repetition is key!
Come to class and let us as the teachers, give you the knowledge. I truly believe that it is not about the level, its about your ability as a teacher to break it down step by step and being able to adapt to any student crowd. Don't think too much... we got you, just come with water and an open mind ready to work and sweat!
SHAWTYME: Live in the moment, enjoy the class, ask questions. We are here to train, it’s not a competition. These are some of the things we normal say throughout the class to make everyone comfortable.
AFROCONEX: Afro dances evolve quickly. The trending style right now is Amapiano and you are both well versed with the latest Amapiano moves. How do you stay up to date with the latest dances and does it ever feel overwhelming keeping up with the trends ?
TANY: Instagram is my best friend for getting inspiration in Amapiano. I do watch and follow a lot of South African dancers online. Also, their community is pretty big here and with Amapiano being the trend right now, it does help a lot to go to these parties and see their genuine vibe and feed your inspo from it.
For me it never feels and cannot feel overwhelming to keep up because I don't pretend to know nor do it all. I just take from it what rocks my boat and my soul.
SHAWTYME: Not really because dance is bound to evolve every season. So whatever fits our style, fits it, if not we move .
Be sure to follow @tany_ora and @mr_shawtyme32 for their next collaboration class.
Check out their previous collaborations: