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Willi Ninja, ‘Godfather of Voguing,’ celebrated in Google Doodle

<i>Jaimie Trueblood/WireImage/Getty Images</i><br/>Willi Ninja appears on the
Jaimie Trueblood/WireImage/Getty Images
Willi Ninja appears on the "Jimmy Kimmel Live" show in 2005.

By Marianne Garvey, CNN

(CNN) — Google is honoring the late dancer, choreographer and LGBTQ+ icon Willi Ninja with a Google Doodle.

Ninja, who was featured in the documentary “Paris is Burning,” rose to fame in the 1980s and 1990s and created the “The Iconic House of Ninja” social community and dance troupe, which lives on today.

A star in the Harlem ballroom scene, credited as the “Godfather of Voguing,” Ninja’s given name was William Roscoe Leake. Born in 1961, Ninja grew up in Flushing, Queens with his mom taking him to ballet performances at the Apollo Theater in New York.

He would go on to invent his own style of dancing.

“Paris is Burning,” a film about LGBTQ+ culture in America in the 1980s, premiered on June 9 1990. The film featured Ninja prominently and 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.

Ninja’s dancing inspired and influenced artists like Madonna. He danced in two music videos for Janet Jackson and was was a runway model for designer Jean-Paul Gaultier.

An advocate for HIV/AIDS education and prevention, Ninja died in 2006 at age 45.

His Google Doodle celebrates his dancing style with a 48-second animated clip.

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