Jun 22, 2020
The first Dancehall Queen on the podcast! Charm is an extremely talented, trophy-winning dancer and choreographer whom I’ve known for nearly two decades.
Charm(real name Shari)is originally from Barbados and migrated to the U.S. with her mother at the age of 3. Mom was a ballroom dancer who would sew her own dresses for dance functions.
During kindergarten, Shari wanted to take ballet classes. Her mother enrolled her and began Charm’s dance journey. Ballet training would continue until high school. She also joined the school band and made it to the nationals in her senior year 2005.
At 16, she started getting into Dancehall. Watching music videos from Sean Paul inspired her to dig into the genre. Being raised in Brooklyn, it also helped that others in her age group were into this style. Charm’s mother started allowing her to go to parties at this time. This leads her to meet someone who would be her dance partner and friend for years to come.
Kadi is a dancer who was already in the Brooklyn Dancehall scene by relation and association. She was a part of Ground Zero and had a cousin who danced with the Ikon family(two popular dance crews at the time). Shari and Kadi shared enthusiasm for gyal(girl) and shotta(gangster/male) dance techniques. They bonded and became friends.
The duo called themselves Deadly Alliance. Competing against others, performing for artists, traveling from boro to boro displaying their skills on the dancefloor, they were respected.
The pair would study Passa Passa and Dutty Fridaze DVDs, which documented particular street parties in Jamaica in the early 2000s — analyzing them, making dance routines, and writing down the latest moves.
In 2010 Charm gave birth to her daughter, putting a pause on dance. A year later, she connected with Bling(former podcast guest). He helped invigorate her spirit, and the following years would see her rise as an award-winning solo dancer.
She won the Minnesota Dancehall Queen competition in 2013. The win led to an entry into the International DHQ competition in Jamaica, which she entered a 2nd time the following year.
She’s come 2nd place in the Dancehall Battle NYC competition two years in a row. Losing only to Bling and King Kayak(gentlemen who are dance heavyweights-in their own right)in the shotta style.
In September 2019, Charm raised money and took a trip to Kenya. She saw this opportunity to share her knowledge and teach. Most New York dancers do the same traveling to Europe but never Africa. Shari says the trip was life-changing and would go back.
Currently, she’s establishing her Dancehall PowerHouse brand. Charm envisions a collection of the best street and technical dancers under one roof. It’s open to everyone, but she is currently catering to females through classes and video projects.
Charm says that 10–15 years ago, there was more work in promoting oneself. Get one’s outfit together, show up at parties, and present your moves(which you’ve been practicing for weeks on end)to the world. The world being word of mouth through your peers or recorded video, which would only be seen on YouTube.
Present-day, it’s ‘let’s meet up at the studio, film a video and present it social media.’ She also feels that New York has its own rich Dancehall history, which is seldom discussed.
Being a single mom with a full-time job who occasionally deals with depression, Shari continues to dance. It’s a passion she loves and brings her joy.
You can connect with Charm on her Instagram account here https://www.instagram.com/dhq_charm/
Facebook here. https://www.facebook.com/Shari.Clarke.L
You can find her on YouTube here https://bit.ly/2B61wxc
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