Jamaica Craft leaves an impact wherever she goes. Hailing from Kansas City, Missouri (the Show Me State), the choreographer, artist developer, and creative director isn’t loud when she enters the room, she’d rather show you.
Seen as the creative savant of the entertainment industry, Craft has worked with everyone from Usher and Ne-Yo to Ciara and Justin Bieber. Getting her first professional gig dancing for MC Hammer, she hasn’t looked back since.
Exuding nothing but love and positivity, It’s crazy to think she sees herself as “super mystique, observant, and quiet.” But once you get to know her, she loves cocktails and to have a good time. A genuine lover of people, she stresses the importance of imperfection — something we can all relate to.
When it comes to her roots in dance, her talents come innately with no formal training. Through her own love and passion for the art of dance, she’s been able to shape the image and movements of the industry’s biggest names. This year, she’s been blessed to be able to work on Starz’ hit show P Valley, centered around a popular strip club in Mississippi called The Pynk.
Jamaica Craft’s new thing is “hanging in there.” Read below as we discuss how she landed the role choreographing for P Valley, her passion for exotic dancing, Magic City’s influence and HBO’s “Lovecraft Country,” and more!
AllHipHop: I know you have a crazy schedule, how’s it been shooting?
Jamaica Craft: It’s good. It’s great to be back to work to some type of normalcy. I’m super happy to be back to work and being creative, using my brain to be in that space. I’m a tangible person, so I needed to get back.
AllHipHop: How did you land the role to choreograph for P Valley?
Jamaica Craft: I got this call, they’re interviewing choreographers for P Valley. Once I knew what the show’s about, that’s me. Exotic dancing has always been a fusion inside of my creativity. From the very start, I’ve always been intrigued. I’d done a couple other jobs like Superfly where I did exotic and pole dancing. I had an interview with Karena Evans and Katori Hall, talked to them about my vision and my thoughts about dancers from the South, how we exude that visually. It’s a different bottom that they have. I’m not talking the physicality of their body, it’s the bottom of how they move.
The way the clubs are in the South, it’s an experience and a cultural thing. The girls I knew, these women are superheroes. As soon as I said that, Katori and Karena said “exactly.” We want someone who will make sure we’re showing the point-of-view from the dancer. Because if you watch the show, Katori has expressed that it’s not your point-of-view. A lot of times, you see it from the eyes of the viewer. It’s great to see from the eyes of the actual dancer and what they’re feeling. I’d been wanting a project like that, where you get to understand what we feel.
AllHipHop: How much rehearsal or practice did the cast members have to go through?
Jamaica Craft: They started 2 months ahead of time, before they even got to Atlanta. We started doing boot camp training: “touch the pole, now climb the pole.” I had a great team in different states where the ladies were from to get them started: moving around the pole, climbing, getting the actual technique of pole work. That’s what was going to take us through the whole series. When they got to Atlanta, it was adding those in with actual choreography, and learning choreography based upon seeing.
They prepped 2 months, then prepped another month here in Atlanta before we started shooting. A lot of sore bodies, a lot of “wait a minute, am I gon’ fall?” None of them ever fell, well Tyler. [laughs] She was such a trooper. That girl learned poles so dope, you need to fall a couple times to know what to do. It wasn’t all the pole work, but the technique of lap dancing. The technique of seduction where it’s not about you the customer, it’s about me. You’re enjoying me. All the choreography wasn’t always on the pole, it’s you understanding what each one of these characters represent. You felt it through their dance. These ladies rehearsed from 2 months ahead of when we filmed to the last day of filming, always learning a new routine for every episode. They really never got days off, they worked their a#### off.
AllHipHop: You blend the world of exotic dancing and competitive pole dancing into P-Valley. How much Magic City influence is there?
Jamaica Craft: Absolutely, we have some Magic City dancers in there. Yes, definitely. A couple members from Snack Pack were part of the cast, they’re educating us. I’ve lived in Atlanta a long time, so I’ve had a couple of dinners at Magic. [laughs] When you see those ladies, that contraption they have from Magic City, it’s showtime when you walk in there. They’re hanging from… it’s not your normal strip club. They’re giving you a show. It’d be a discredit if I didn’t exude that energy inside P-Valley because it represents the South.
AllHipHop: What’s been the highlight of HBO’s Lovecraft Country?
Jamaica Craft: Topsy and Bopsy, them 2 scared twins. [laughs]
AllHipHop: How important is it to get out and vote? Your company Jam Session is working with Ciara on her Biden/Harris performance.
Jamaica Craft: It’s so simple. If you don’t believe that your voice matters, it does. It’s not about who’s the President, it’s about everyone. You need to vote, no matter what ethnicity you are. Definitely if you’re a minority, just the right to vote. People sacrificed so much for us to be able to go to the polls, go vote. Know that you had a moment of saying yes or no. Even if it turns out your way or it doesn’t, you still have to speak up. It’s no different from having an argument and not getting to say what you wanted to say. [sighs] It’s the same way.
Right now, we really need to vote. We have to express our voices. Even our last election, no matter how it turned out, it showed people weren’t voting. People weren’t engaged. Now, that’s where you start to have the conversation. It’s your right, the will to vote is so empowering. It’s so great. I was waiting on my Absentee, I went for early voting. I had to do it. I feel so refreshed after that. I can’t linger on what’s going to happen, I have to linger on my part.