Hashem Hussain is a 23-year-old Saudi graduate of industrial engineering with a love for dancing who has started to give urban dance classes in Jeddah. Dance helps people to connect with their emotions and bodies. It draws people together and helps them to let go of stress, he says.
Hussain told Arab News about his passion and how he reached his level of expertise.
“I’ve always been fascinated with movement and dance videos. I remember that one movie stood out with me, ‘You Got Served’ (a 2004 film about street dancing in Los Angeles). It is one of the most influential dance movies of all time.
“I started to play music and dance when I could. This always made me smile, and made me fall in love with dance as a connection between music and my body. I didn’t know at the time what choreography meant.”
Hussain specializes in urban dance, which has its own style, community and lifestyle revolving around choreographed performances by a dancer or groups of dancers. A big part of the modern urban dance culture stemmed from collegiate dance teams and competitions.
“After high school, I started taking it seriously. Throughout those years I found it difficult to find a community here, but that never stopped me.
“I found a dance club at my university (Northeastern University) during my freshman year called Revolve Dance Crew. Back then, not knowing what choreography was at the time, I struggled but kept pushing and took various classes in Boston to improve my skills. Finally I made it at the third audition and got accepted.
“We performed at many shows such as World of Dance, New England Prelude, Dance4me etc. Moreover, I was able to choreograph for my crew as part of the performance set, and I gave classes for Boston dancers as well after many hours of practice with my crew. Official practice time was eight hours a week, but I would put extra hours in outside classes,” he said.
“I left the team after two years to develop a deeper understanding of dance, so I traveled to Los Angeles to learn from industry dancers (backup dancers of Beyoncé, Justin Bieber, Usher and Chris Brown) to grow my knowledge.
“My biggest inspiration was a crew named Kinjaz from Los Angeles. They are not only dancers but also valuable to their community. How they accept everyone from different backgrounds is admirable; their movements and visualization of the music was a breakthrough to me.”
Hussain told Arab News about his initiative to motivate people to dance.
“Although I draw inspiration from all dancers around the world, I’ve reached a point where I can say I have my unique style built with a solid foundation.
“After graduation, I came back home and started to teach here in Jeddah by renting out a studio space from NawaSpace. I teach urban dance, a genre that has no limits and combines many dance styles into one.”
According to posts on his Instagram account that show many positive reactions and enthusiasm from interested people, Hussain is giving weekly dancing classes from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m., taking only 12 students per class to teach them well. “I go over the basics and foundations to build a strong background for dancers in my class.” Prices start at SR100 ($27) for one class.
“The community over here is very accepting and finds joy with my classes. I hope I’ll have an opportunity to have more people dancing; I didn’t expect my first class to have this amazing support. I see my students from the first class leaving with smiles on their faces and wanting more, which has made me extremely happy. The community keeps growing here and every time I host a class I see new faces,” he said.
“I want students to be able to let go of their stress and worries and to connect more with their emotions and bodies by letting music move them and keep them connected with their minds.
“I’m happy that I’m blessed and that I can teach this to my community here. Dance naturally draws people together and doesn’t discriminate against anyone. It is accepting of others’ backgrounds and ideas, as well as different dance styles, and sees different perspectives of life.”