Ninja Source: Criterion Collection

Google Honors 'Godfather of Voguing' Willi Ninja with Google Doodle

Emell Adolphus READ TIME: 1 MIN.

Google has struck LGBTQ cultural gold today in its honoring of the late dancer, choreographer and LGBTQ+ icon Willi Ninja in the company's Google Doodle feature.

Ninja, who was featured in the documentary "Paris is Burning" rose to fame in the 1980s and 1990s, was an iconic force in the Harlem ballroom scene. He is credited as the "Godfather of Voguing" and grew up in Flushing, Queens.

At a young age, a passion for dance and ballet, with a supportive mother taking him to ballet performances at the Apollo Theater, led to Ninja developing his own style of dance.

Ninja's dancing has of course influenced Pop icons such as Madonna and Janet Jackson, even being featured in two of her videos, and serving as a runway model for designer Jean-Paul Gaultier.

But above all Ninja's legacy, born William Roscoe Leake, lives on in the "The Iconic House of Ninja" social community and dance troupe.

In celebration of Ninja's legacy, Google included an explanatory video of his place in LGBTQ history and some amazing clips of troupe members showing off their moves.

Premiering June 9, 1990, "Paris is Burning," is recognized as "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant" by the Library of Congress. It was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry in 2016.

An advocate for HIV/AIDS education and prevention, Ninja died in 2006 at age 45, but today he is back and on the minds of millions as a very vogue doodle.

Watch the video on Willi Ninja's history below.

by Emell Adolphus

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