If you have watched the critically acclaimed Childish Gambino video for his controversial song “This is America”, you may have noticed a few African dances and some African influence in the choreography. This is thanks to Rwandan-born dancer and choreographer Sherrie Silver. She took the opportunity to blend a number of American and African dance moves, such as Nigeria’s Shaku Shaku, the Gwara Gwara and the Azonto from Ghana, to help create one of the most impactful videos in recent time.
Silver told Interview magazine: “With Donald, I put together some choreography for him, based on the concept and what I call Afro-dance. He has his own dancing style and had his own ideas for the solos. We definitely met in the middle. He had done ballet before, so there’s some of that in there, in addition to American dance references, like the Shoot, Reverse, and Nae Nae dances. He rehearsed at home with videos he found, too.”
“Every six months there is a new Afro-dance move that goes mainstream. For a while now, Gwara Gwara has been the dance that everyone wants to do and learn. It looks simple, but it’s actually difficult to do. I lived in South Africa for two months while filming a movie, so I became quite familiar with it. I also included the Shaku Shaku dance from Nigeria, the Alkayida and Azonto from Ghana, and other moves that don’t have names,” she continued.
The 24-year-old, who has gone viral on countless occasions on YouTube and Instagram, has also danced for Rwandan President Kagame in her home country long before being recruited to choreograph Donald Glover’s video and the second dance she choreographed for his Saturday Night Live performance.
— Sherrie Silver (@SherrieSilver) May 7, 2018
“This is America” has gone on to scoop three awards at the MTV Video Music Awards, including best video with a message, best choreography and best direction. Silver was not only there to witness the victory, the young “African dance queen” literally received the awards on Glover’s behalf.
Silver told Vogue magazine that she has ambitions to “take Afro dance and Afro culture to the world, and then take the world to Africa.”