Like Water: Meet Yagamoto, The Movement Man

I first met Abdourahman Njie AKA Yagamoto (or Abdou, or Yaga for short) in Gambia in 2011 or so, in my living room. My brother had said he met someone like us, someone from the UK, at school. I heard him before I saw him, his loud voice with the slight Essex cockney twang to it, ringing out through our hallway.

Yagamoto for #GUAP33, shot by Jacob Ray

Fast forward some years and we have all moved back to London, at our first “creative” event, a launch for Theo White’s zine, in 2016 perhaps. A big night for me as Theo then became the first stylist I ever assisted, and an even bigger night for Yaga, as it was where he got to meet the likes of Campbell Addy, who signed him to Nii Agency, and Ib Kamara, who cast him in his first big campaign – a Burberry shoot. I remember watching Yaga dance through the crowds, as he does at every event, charming people and making friends in the blink of an eye, or the change of a song. 

Yagamoto for #GUAP33, shot by Jacob Ray
Yagamoto for #GUAP33, shot by Jacob Ray

I am still amazed by this way with people when I watch Yaga with people on set at our cover shoot, having moved from model to DJ to photographer to dancer to movement and creative director. How he puts people at ease, how he pauses to imagine and carefully consider the person he’s working with before coming up with movement sequences, how he can come across completely grounded and utterly spontaneous all at once, how broad his music tastes are.

Yagamoto for #GUAP33, shot by Jacob Ray

I wanted to use water in this cover shoot to portray Yaga’s fluidity and broad range, and his coastal identities – from the Atlantic that surrounds Gambia and Senegal, to his familial home in Southend-on-sea. Mostly though, I wanted to portray the way Yaga moves – his signature springy steps and extended silhouettes, recognisable on any dark dancefloor, with choreography that flows seamlessly instead of having a beginning or end. 

Yagamoto for #GUAP33, shot by Jacob Ray

This special way with people and unique, multidisciplinary way of moving and teaching is what I believe has allowed Yaga to circumvent the traditional university/dance school route. And it has taken him far – Yaga has worked to give movement direction to many legends. Pharrell, Skepta, Chet Lo, Bukayo Saka, Daniel Kaluuya, Little Simz, and even icons who are known especially for their own magical movement, such as Naomi Campbell and Michael Jordan. Yaga is also behind the movement on many Gabriel Moses projects, breathing life into Moses’ striking, moody and graceful videos and photographs. He has also worked with reputable brands such as Moncler, Adidas, H&M, Louis Vuitton, Celine and many more. Yaga is proof that being yourself pays, literally and figuratively.

Yagamoto for #GUAP33, shot by Jacob Ray
Yagamoto for #GUAP33, shot by Jacob Ray
Yagamoto for #GUAP33, shot by Jacob Ray


Yagamoto for #GUAP33

Creative Direction, Fashion and Casting: Rashida Taylor

Photography: Jacob Ray

DOP: Shane Duncan

Producer: Sayo Olukoga

Music Composer: Malick Denton

Kora played by Jali Kuyate

Set Design: James Lye

Set assistant: Amber Ravenshear

Gaffer: Ian Blackburn

Hair: Ella Alvis

Makeup: Kalya Selway/Afrolion

Fashion assistant: Jameliah Adekunle

Dancers: Daniel Iwuji, Nana Yaw K Mensah and Wahchi Vong

Runner: Ayo Asani

Brands worn: Torisheju, Fabien Zou

About Author

Rashida Taylor

Rashida Taylor is Head of Fashion at GUAP Magazine. She is also a freelance stylist and creative director, based in London.