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A dancer voguing during a performance
|Inventor||Gay Black and Latino Americans|
|Competitions||House Dance International|
|Related topics||Vogue magazine
Vogue or voguing is a highly stylized, modern house dance that evolved out of the Harlem ballroom scene in the 1980s. It gained mainstream exposure when it was featured in Madonna's song and video "Vogue" (1990), and when showcased in the 1990 documentary Paris is Burning (which went on to win the Grand Jury Prize at the 1991 Sundance Film Festival). After the new millennium, Vogue returned to mainstream attention when the dance group Vogue Evolution competed on the fourth season of America's Best Dance Crew.
Inspired by Vogue magazine, voguing is characterized by model-like poses integrated with angular, linear, and rigid arm, leg, and body movements. This style of dance arose from Harlem ballrooms by African Americans and Latino Americans in the early 1960s. It was originally called "presentation" and later "performance". Over the years, the dance evolved into the more intricate and illusory form that is now called "vogue". Voguing is continually developed further as an established dance form that is practiced in the gay ballroom scene and clubs in major cities throughout the United States—mainly New York City.
Formal competitions occur in the form of balls held by "houses"—family-like collectives of LGBT dancers and performers. Some legendary houses include the House of Garcon, the House of Icon, the House of Khanh, the House of Evisu, the House of Karan, the House of Mizrahi, the House of Xtravaganza, the House of Ebony, the House of Revlon, the House of Prodigy, the House of Escada, the House of Omni, the House of Aviance, the House of Legacy, the House of Milan, the House of Infiniti, the House of Pend'avis, the House of LaBeija, the House of McQueen, the House of Ninja, and the House of Andromeda among others ("Legendary" in ballroom terms refers to a house that has been "serving", that is, walking or competing on the runway, for twenty years or more). The House of Ninja was founded by Willi Ninja, who is considered the godfather of voguing. Members of a house are called "children". Sometimes children legally change their last name to show their affiliation with the house to which they belong.
There are currently three distinct styles of vogue: old way (pre-1990); new way (post-1990); and vogue femme (circa 1995). Although vogue "femme" has been used in the ballroom scene as a catch-all phrase for overtly effeminate voguing as far back as the 1960s, as a recognizable style of voguing, it only came into its own around the mid-1990s.
It should be noted that the terms "old way" and "new way" are generational. Earlier generations called the style of voguing the generation before them practiced "old way". Voguers, therefore, reuse these terms to refer to the evolutionary changes of the dance that are observable almost every ten years. Ten years from now, today's "new way" will likely be deemed the "old way".
Old way is characterized by the formation of lines, symmetry, and precision in the execution of formations with graceful, fluid-like action. Egyptian hieroglyphs and fashion poses serve as the original inspirations for old way voguing. In its purest, historical form, old way vogue is a duel between two rivals. Traditionally, old way rules dictated that one rival must "pin" the other to win the contest. Pinning involved the trapping of an opponent so that he or she could not execute any movements while the adversary was still in motion (usually voguing movements with the arms and hands called "hand performance" while the opponent was "pinned" against the floor doing "floor exercises" or against a wall).
New way is characterized by rigid movements coupled with "clicks" (limb contortions at the joints) and "arms control" (hand and wrist illusions, which sometimes includes tutting and locking). New way can also be described as a modified form of mime in which imaginary geometric shapes, such as a box, are introduced during motion and moved progressively around the dancer's body to display the dancer's dexterity and memory. New way involves incredible flexibility.
Vogue femme is fluidity at its most extreme with exaggerated feminine movements influenced by ballet and modern dance. Styles of vogue femme performance range from dramatics style (which emphasizes stunts, tricks, and speed) to soft style (which emphasizes a graceful, beautiful, easy flow). There are six elements of vogue femme: hand performance, catwalk, duckwalk, floor performance, dips, and spins (unofficial). When competing in a vogue femme battle, contestants should showcase all six elements in an entertaining fashion.
Hand performance refers to the illusions and movements of the arms, wrists, hands, and fingers. The catwalk is the upright sashaying in a linear fashion. The duckwalk refers to the crouched, squatted, foot-kicking and scooting movements requiring balance on the balls of the feet. Floor performance refers to the movements done on the floor using primarily the legs, knees, and back. The dip is the fall, drop, or descent backward onto one's back with one's leg folded underneath. Mainstream dance forms popularized the dip, which is occasionally called the "death drop" when done in dramatics style. Due to popular media, the dip is sometimes incorrectly termed the "5000", "shablam", and "shabam".
The ballroom scene has evolved into a national underground dancesport with major balls being held in different regions. The major vogue city in the country has been and continues to be New York, but regional voguing "capitals" exist—Chicago and Detroit for the Midwest, Atlanta and Charlotte for the South, and Los Angeles for the West.
Many performers, particularly female performers, have used vogue-style dance as a part of their routines. Taiwanese singer Jolin Tsai and Swedish singer Hanna Lindblad extensively feature voguing in their music videos for "Honey Trap" and "Manipulated", respectively. The transgender member of Vogue Evolution, Leiomy Maldonado, is responsible for creating and popularizing her signature voguing move, the Leiomy Lolly. The Leiomy Lolly is featured in Britney Spears' video for "If U Seek Amy", in Beyoncé and Lady Gaga's video for "Video Phone", and in a Dance Central routine to the song "Lapdance". Leiomy can be seen voguing in Willow Smith's video for "Whip My Hair". The masquerade ball scene in the 2004 film adaptation of The Phantom of the Opera also features voguing.
Several music videos quickly showcase the dip: Lil Mama and Chris Brown's video for "Shawty Get Loose", Chris Brown's video for "Kiss Kiss", Christina Milian's video for "Dip It Low", Beyoncé's video for "Get Me Bodied", and Kat DeLuna's video for "Drop It Low". In the tenth episode of Dance Moms, young dancer Nia Frazier successfully completes a dip in a group routine after receiving training from Shangela.
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- "Willi Ninja, godfather of ‘voguing,’ dies at 45". MSN.com. September 7, 2008. Retrieved 2010-11-14.
- "The House of Diabolique vs. Runway, Ballroom, and Voguing music". HouseOfDiabolique.com. Retrieved 2010-11-14.
- Hong, Grace Danbi (9 May 2013). "Shinhwa to Go ‘Vogue’ for ‘This Love’". enewsWorld (CJ E&M). Retrieved 10 May 2013.
- Hong, Grace Danbi (10 May 2013). "Shinhwa Gives Sneak Peek of Voguing Dance in ‘This Love’ Teaser". enewsWorld (CJ E&M). Retrieved 10 May 2013.
- Voguing: The Message (1989) - Short documentary featuring the House of Ninja on YouTube
- Vogue dancing by John Aviance on YouTube
- ABDC 4 - Vogue Evolution dancing on YouTube