Google’s Pride Month doodle celebrates iconic dancer Willi Ninja’s 62nd birthday

Willi Ninja went on to master the art of voguing, a dance style that blends fashion poses with intricate, mime and martial arts-like movements

Updated - June 09, 2023 01:28 pm IST

Published - June 09, 2023 12:01 pm IST

Google Doodle celebrating Willi Ninja’s 62nd birthday

Google Doodle celebrating Willi Ninja’s 62nd birthday

Willi Ninja, or William Roscoe Leake was an American dancer and choreographer. Today’s Google Doodle celebrates the iconic life and legacy that the ‘Godfather of Voguing’ left behind.

Voguing is a form of highly stylized modern house dance that originated in the 1980s during the Harlem Renaissance.

The Google Doodle, which features a short 47-second video of Willi in his iconic dance style says he was a ‘staple in the Harlem Ballroom scene’.

“Will paved a path for Black LGBTQ+ representation and acceptance in the 1980s and ’90s. The community he created, “The Iconic House of Ninja,” lives on to this day,” the Google Doodle page said.

The Doodle celebrated Willi’s legacy during Pride Month and featured the current members of the House of Ninja — Archie Burnett Ninja, Javier Madrid Ninja, Kiki Ninja, and Akiko Tokuoka aka KiT Ninja — dancing in celebration.

Willi Ninja was born in 1961 and grew up in Flushing, Queens. He went on to master the art of voguing, a dance style that blends fashion poses with intricate, mime and martial arts-like movements.

Inspired by Egyptian hieroglyphs and martial arts, Willi introduced new dance techniques that redefined voguing standards. Catapulted to stardom in the ’90s, Willi went on to perform in films, music videos, and luxury runway shows around the world. His moves inspired celebrities ranging from Madonna to Jean-Paul Gaultier, the Google Doodle page added.

Apart from dancing, Willi was also an advocate for his community, from raising awareness of HIV/AIDS prevention at drag balls, he strived to reduce the stigma associated with the disease.

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