Check this out–Ronnie Nasralla from Ronnie & Jeannette fame, the dancers who taught us how to do the ska through, quite literally, an advertising campaign, is featured on this advertisement for a shoe store. If you read the ad copy, his “Dancing Feet” were featured on the television commercials for the store and this is the winner of the contest to guess whose feet they were. How awesome is this?!
A few words about Mr. Nasralla who is a lovely man and lives today near Atlanta, Georgia and is 83 years old, lucid as ever. He wrote a book called Lessons to Learn that I would HIGHLY recommend. It’s written well and is enjoyable and informative. He talks about his family upbringing, his foray into theater and dance, and, of course, how he helped to promote ska at the request of his good childhood friend, Edward Seaga.
Ronnie Nasralla explained to me a few months ago how he came to showcase the ska with Seaga and Byron Lee. “Let me tell you how it started. One day, Eddie Seaga, who was my close friend, called me. Eddie Seaga was friends with my sister. He was my sister’s boyfriend and he used to come by my house and I help him with his political campaign. Advertising was my forte. So I did all the advertising for the government, Eddie Seaga at that time. I help him with all his promotion. He told me he heard a music that was breaking out in Western Kingston called ska and he asked if I could promote it for him, so I said, ‘Well, I’d like to learn about.’ And we organized and I said, well Byron Lee is the best person to promote it. So we get together with Byron Lee down in Western Kingston and I learned the ska music. Eddie organized a dance at the Chocomo Lawn in Western Kingston—it’s an outdoor nightclub. And Byron played there and all the ska artists performed with Byron and it was a sensation. He [Seaga] said to me, ‘Ronnie, move around the crowd and see what they are doing on the dance floor and see if you can come up with a brochure about how to dance the ska. So I did that, saw the people dancing around and came up with a brochure about a week after, how to dance the ska, give them different steps in the ska, and something that they could use to promote ska worldwide. That brochure was used by the government, they put it in all the record albums and it was sent all over the world and I was asked to go to the states and promote the ska with somebody and I got Jannette Phillips to dance with me. Jannette was a dancer, a belly dancer, a friend of my sister. We took pictures doing the different steps and the brochure was produced and given to the government and it was put in all the ska albums,” says Nasralla.
Jannette Phillips, who married business mogul Raymond Miles in November, 1965, doesn’t speak about her days as a ska dancer. She works at her husband’s company, Sun Island Jamaica, but says she doesn’t “want to relive that part of her past. It was a long long time ago.”