Emilie Holte is from Denmark and now lives in New York City. She began dancing at age four. Now 23, she first received attention in the U.S. after performing Al B’s circa 1981 ‘Harlem Shake’ on A$AP Ferg’s track ‘Plain Jane.’
She’s a very blond white woman accused of cultural appropriation.
‘Emilie Brooklyn,’ as she is known professionally, is a well-known dancer who specializes in hip-hop. She danced her version of the Milly Rock in front of the Marcy Houses in Brooklyn in early December. The home of Shawn Carter, aka Jay Z, Holte said her moves were a tribute to the celebrated rapper from Brooklyn on his B-day, Dec. 4.
Millions have seen the video and tens of thousands have disagreed that her post was done in honor. Indeed, she was dragged on Twitter.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Posted First on Her Instagram, But Viewed by 3.4 Million on Another’s Twitter Account, Emilie Brooklyn’s Moves Saw Her Accused of Appropriation & Gentrification
A tweet of the video by Long Island University graduate student called Queen Sha Shaa read: “Never in my years of being born in raised in Brooklyn, I thought I would see a white girl Milly Rockin’ in front of Marcy Projects in Bedstuy ?? that’s right siss go off ????”
Of the more than 14,000 comments, many see a girl appropriating black culture and further validating the fact that gentrification has blanketed Brooklyn. Still, others just see a good dancer.
And the dragging began.
“Milly Rock while calling the cops …”
“I know her. That’s Jen Trification.”
“So, she survived dancing in the projects, but then got killed in the Twitter comments. Rest In Peace, girl.”
2. Emilie Brooklyn’s Original IG Post, an Homage to Jay Z on his Birthday, Also Had Its Fans & Detractors
In a birthday message to HOV, Emilie Brooklyn posted, “Had to step out where the GOAT was created.”
Here too the comments included mostly ones critical of her decision to don Timberlands and use the Marcy Projects as a backdrop. Many included server and ruthless condemnation, others a nod of approval saying she’s was being respectful and paying homage. One tactfully explained to the dancer what the problem is:
“This is definitely tone deaf but something tells me you won’t understand why until you spend some more time in your new community. I see that you’re from Denmark so you not understand the cultural context is almost expected, but it’s pretty offensive nonetheless you guys have traditions like Black Pete etc… everyone can see that your dance isn’t racist in a hateful way, but you fetishized something that didn’t need to be. Now that you’re in New York City and live in a predominantly black community, hopefully, you’ll open up and learn that other peoples struggles or not for props and backdrops.”
The general consensus on her post? The dancer from Denmark can honor hip-hop culture without stealing it.
3. Emile Brooklyn Explains Herself: ‘I Do Have the Utmost Respect For These People & This Culture’
“When the music takes over and I let the moment and my movement speak. Dancing gets deep to me. I don’t just dance to dance anymore, I dance to break barriers and unify people. Let me remind you of the principles of hip-hop: PEACE, LOVE, UNITY & HAVING FUN. That is what I stand by. As a woman and as a human being. I will always remain myself whether it’s excepted or not.”
In this post, while still criticized, she was largely supported.
“You won’t be accepted by everyone but that’s okay. Keep doing you.”
In a two-part interview series, she says it’s “difficult I’m not gonna lie,” but says she has the “utmost respect for these people and this culture.”
“I really don’t want this to be a thing …white people stealing black culture and getting the fame of it…I do this from the heart. It’s just dancing. At the end of the day, I do this with love.” She says she’s aware “this is an issue … a very serious topic…”
Emilie Brooklyn has posted images of herself with ‘Harlem to Paris’ rapper Marty Baller and Diggy Simmons, the latter where she says she’s choreographed a music video for he hip=hop royalty.
“If you don’t know me you look at my Instagram and, you know, ‘Oh, this white girl she just stole some shit and now she’s getting lit off of it,” she says adding that people don’t know she’s been “out here busting my ass for 17-plus years.
4. Emile Brooklyn Was Also Blasted For Her Lady Foot Locker Advertisement Which the Shoe Company Itself Removed From IG
The dancer was roasted on her IG for her Lady Foot Locker endorsement photos where people called out her appropriation of black culture. But it wasn’t just the dancer people were upset with.
Comments directed to Lady Foot Locker included, “Any plans to address the feedback you received on this endorsement or are you planning to simply delete the comments and posts for their doubling down on your complicity by silence in black voices.”
“Looks like Lady foot locker took their post of you down without addressing your appropriation of black culture. Any chance you’ll take some personal responsibility and dress the community from what you continue to shamelessly profit,” one commented.
Many people attempted to explain to the dancer and performer that while she may be inspired by hip-hop, she should steer clear of appropriating it culturally. She’s accused of stealing opportunities for black female artists, models and performers.
“You need to move over and give the power to black women who deserve it. Not you someone else’s culture for fame and money you’re a terrible person.”
5. From Denmark, Holte’s Resume Includes Professional Choreography, International Dance Competitions, Commercial Endorsements & Teaching
Copenhagen-born Holte has warmed up a crowd at a Tyga concert, worked with the UK group Silk City and danced in a Lil Mama video.
She’s won competitions and TV talent shows all over the UK, Europe, and the Netherlands. She teaches, choreographs and performs internationally.
She’s done ad photoshoots for Red Bull and she’s been featured in dance and hip-hop culture magazines.
She also volunteers as a hip-hop dance teacher and fills in for faculty at EXPG Studio in New York.
And through much of her breakout as an Instagram personality, she’s been at once accepted and accused of cultural appropriation; she’s often seen in cornrows, for example. And in particular, an image of her donning a do-rag has some calling her a “culture vulture.”
The dancer says that her goal is to “dance to break barriers and unify people.”