Pop, Dip, And Spin! Six Voguers You Should Know

From Willi Ninja to Leiomy, these performers are masters at one of the most incredible dance styles of all time.

More than likely, you've scrolled through social media and seen a clip of the most creative and innovative dance styles in history -- voguing. Directly out of the Black and Latin ballroom community (a subculture of queer people who participate in competitions -- known as "balls" -- that are rooted in family, dance, and fashion), voguing is equally jaw-dropping and backbreaking. In recent years, voguing and ballroom has gotten more popular with the FX series Pose, the HBO Max show Legendary and artists like Beyoncé featuring voguing on her Renaissance World Tour. However, it's important to remember voguing and the ballroom scene are not only dance moves but powerful forms of community-building within a space to thrive and be celebrated. 

Additionally, various styles of voguing include "old way," "new way," "soft," "dramatics," and more. In honor of the art form of voguing, here are six legendary voguers you should know. That said, this is only a list of six; countless, gifted vogue performers have helped to make the dance form what it is today. Don't stop here; research the many other vogue divas over the decades.

  1. Willi Ninja

    Considered the godfather of vogue, Willi Ninja, born William Roscoe Leake, helped to make vogue mainstream. As the mother of the House of Ninja, founded in 1982, Ninja appeared in two Janet Jackson music videos, walked high fashion runways and heavily influenced Madonna, resulting in her 1990 Billboard Hot 100 No. 1 hit "Vogue." Jose and Luis Xtravaganza -- who were from the ballroom scene -- would later dance with Madonna and go on tour with her. 

    Willi Ninja passed away in 2006. When Ninja died, Madonna said, "He was a great cultural influence to me and hundreds of thousands of other people.” The House of Ninja is still active in the ballroom scene.

    See Ninja above voguing and explaining the art form in the 1990 documentary Paris Is Burning

  2. Andre Mizrahi

    In 1999, years before viral YouTube clips, Andre Mizrahi vogued on Showtime at The Apollo's amateur night and won. While he didn't win the second time around, Andre still slayed the iconic Apollo stage, making history. He is still active in the ballroom scene today. See the clip above. 

  3. Sinia Alaia

    Legendary mother Sinia Alaia is a pioneer in the ballroom scene. The Harlem native walked her first ball in 1989 and while she has conquered many "categories," she is especially known for "femme queen performance," a voguing style that features transgender women. The model, stylist and activist has paved the way for ballroom to become the force it is in 2023. See the compilation video above of her greatest moves.

  4. Leiomy Maldonado

    Leiomy Maldonado has performed globally, appeared in music videos and was a judge on the HBO Max series Legendary for three seasons. Although Maldonado is one of the most famous voguers in the world, she has credited trans women like Alloura Jourdan and Yolanda Jourdan, who have both passed away, as a huge influence. Watch Leiomy above explain the "five elements" of vogue. 

  5. Dashaun Wesley

    Dashaun Wesley has been a fixture in the ballroom scene for over 20 years. He broke through in television on America's Best Dance Crew with Vogue Evolution (Dashaun Wesley, Devon Webster, Malechi Williams, Leiomy Maldonado and Jorel Rios), hosted HBO Max's Legendary and last year rocked the BET Awards stage with Billy Porter during tribute for ballroom and queer excellence. See Wesley above -- on the mic and voguing at the same time. 

  6. Brooklyn Juicy Couture

    The up-and-coming Brooklyn Juicy Couture wowed audiences with her skills on season three of Legendary. See her bend all the laws of gravity in the viral clip above. 

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