Sport & Entertainment
JAM | Sep 17, 2023

Meet Skitta Star, Jamaica’s 2023 Red Bull Dance Your Style national final champion

/ Our Today

Reading Time: 4 minutes
Latonya Style (front left) announces Red Bull Dance Your Style champion Skitta Star, and the stage lights up as Dancehall Wazzi joins in for a celebratory hug. (Photo: Contributed)

Shakeem ‘Skitta Star’ Thomas of Tavares Garden in St Andrew displayed his skill, style, versatility and personality on September 2, at the 2023 Red Bull Dance Your Style (RBDYS) national final held at the Half-Way Tree Transport Centre.

Winning the crowd’s votes after each of his one-on-one dance battles, the 28-year-old emerged champion of the 2023 competition. 

Our Today sat with Skitta, who is no stranger to the RBDYS competition, to learn more about the man behind the moves, his experience in the competition, and his expectations as he prepares for the world final in Frankfurt, Germany on November 4.

1. Tell us how you got the name ‘SkittaStar’

I joined a steel pan group called Silver Birds Steel Pan Orchestra. They were walking in my community one day trying to recruit members and persons from my community recommended me. We travelled, performing at hotels such as Riu Mobay, Riu Negril, Moon Palace Jamaica Grande and Bahia Principe Grand Jamaica.

When I danced, members of the audience would say I move really fast and one day this lady said I moved like a ‘mosquita’ – so everyone started calling me that and I eventually shortened the name, calling myself ‘Skitta’. As for ‘Star’, I have always seen myself as a star, that’s what represents me so I added ‘Star’ to my name – ‘Skitta Star’.

Skitta Star performs at the Red Bull Dance Your Style in Kingston, Jamaica on September 03, 2023. (Photo: Camilo Quiroga/Red Bull Content Pool/Contributed)

2. Can you describe your dance journey leading up to this victory in the Red Bull Dance Your Style competition? What were the key moments that you believe contributed to your win?

Well, I can say it never was easy. I would do my research, practice and play football to keep active. I would even jog too just to make sure I was fit and ready. Mi also just visualise myself on stage and what I would do. I really think everyone brought their best to the stage, but what kept me standing and pushing was the fact that I believed in myself and my abilities. I definitely think the windmill and flairs that I did really reached the crowd and I think those moves for sure contributed to my win.

3. How did you prepare both physically and mentally for the competition?

So I did a lot of research on YouTube. I made sure to watch past Red Bull Dance Your Style competitions to see the different styles of the dancers. I also listened to different types of music and worked on creating new routines.

Skitta Star performs at the Red Bull Dance Your Style in Kingston, Jamaica on September 03, 2023 (photo: Camilo Quiroga/ Red Bull Content Pool/Contributed)

4. What specific dance style or techniques did you focus on mastering in order to showcase your unique skills and captivate the judges?

I really placed my focus on pop and lock breakdance and mixed some dancehall in it to grab the judges’ attention.

All smiles! Shakeem ‘Skitta Star’ Thomas celebrates his win as the new Red Bull Dance Your Style champion. (Photo: Contributed)

5. Do you have a dance mentor? If yes, who? And how have they impacted you?

I wouldn’t say I have a mentor but there are people I look up to and sometimes I look to them for guidance. That’s Zidon Exclusive and Chaddy Extreme. Chaddy is from my group Extreme Pushers. I really admire their dancing life you know, teaching classes and going on tours and that has inspired me to teach classes as well.

6. Who are your local and international dance role models and why?

My international dance role models are Les Twins. They are French brothers who dance and choreograph. For my local role model, that would be the Str8 Edge Society Dance Group from Waltham. They really taught me how to fully believe in myself and I love them for that.

7. Can you share a moment during your dance career when you had to overcome adversity, and how did you manage to maintain your focus and determination?

I lost my sister three months ago and I just felt so weak. At one point I wanted to give up but then I told myself ‘You can use this to break down and push more with fire. Which one will you choose?’ I then said to myself, ‘I am going to do this for you sis’ and that’s where my strength came from – you know when I came to terms with losing my sis I was determined to push for us non-stop.

Witness Skitta Star’s electrifying moves after his victory at the 2023 Red Bull Dance Your Style Competition. (Photo: Contributed)

8. What are your expectations for the international final in Germany?

I do expect a challenge. This competition will be filled with dancers from all around the world, so I know there will be variation of skill but the aim is to win. I think what I bring to the table is different from what the other dancers will do. So my style of dancing, me being myself is what will appeal to the international audience, and in being myself I’d be staying true to brand Jamaica. 


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