During my senior year of high school a group of girls-some of whom I considered friends-and I decided to do a dance tribute to Aaliyah, who had died earlier that school year. I can’t say that I remember the dance itself, it was an amalgam of dances from Aaliyah’s various videos and some we made up, but I can say that looking back on it we were kinda whack and probably only won because everyone was still mourning Aaliayh’s tragic death. While our dance routine was far from America’s Best Dance Crew, we did an awesome job honoring one of R&B’s most over looked style icons.
Aalyiah’s sick dance moves, melodic voice, and girl around the way demeanor carried her influence far beyond her three albums and death in 2001. While her music was far from innovative, catchy hooks, melancholy lyrics, and danceable beats, her accessible style and dance packed videos hooked fans from the very beginning, honestly her accessibilty and non-threatening image were bigger keys to her success than her music. I can remember summers spent in front of the TV taping her videos and memorizing the dance moves to Are You that Somebody like I was auditioning for a spot as one of her dancers. The fluid motions mixed with dance moved now relegated to “hip-hop” dance classes in the suburbs, made for easy learning on hot, Southern summer days but was hard to perfect without Aaliyah’s laid back approach that made each step appear effortless. This effortless approach to dance and music was seen in her style choices as well.
Aaliyah’s look was the look of choice for turn of the millennium girls around the way. Her baggy jeans and cropped tops exposing well toned abs and a bit of boxers was easy to adopt and could be, and was, worn by teen girls universally. As she grew from teen aged girl around the way into an adult, Aalyiah traded in her bandanna and sunglasses for a Veronica Lake style swoop which spawned rumors of her having a lazy left eye-the same rumor that surrounded Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes in her eye patch days. With the release of her third and final album, Aaliyah, the singer finally stopped hiding behind her hair and began to make fashion choices that showed off her true personality not just her dancer’s body. Sadly, just as she was growing into her own as an artist both sonically and sartorially, Aaliyah Haughton’s life was tragically cut short on August 25, 2001.
It’s easy to say what could have been had Aaliyah not gotten aboard that ill fated plane after wrapping her final video for Rock the Boat. One could argue that other acts of similar talent-Ciara and Rihanna-would not have been able to gain the momentum that they did a mere years after her death, had she not died, much like J-Lo needed Selena’s untimely death to boost her career. Pondering things like this are not only useless but an insane waste of time. The truth is, Aaliyah was a talented singer, dancer, and blossoming actress, with roles in Romeo Must Die and The Queen of the Damned, whose inspiration will be felt as long as girls keep striving for the perfect swoop bang, rolling their abs to her songs or being named after her by their parents who grew up idolizing her.
Check out these videos to get a little stylespiration from babygirl better known as Aaliyah. FYI, I didn’t know I still knew the dances to these until I dug them up for this piece.
While you’re in an Aaliyah mood, checl out The Gossip’s cover of Are You That Somebody
- Fashion Meets Music: Janet Jackson
- Reminisce With M.I.S.S.: Aaliyah
- The Music Link List: 08.25.2010
- M.I.S.S. In The Mix: Nikko Gray
- International Dance Day