Breakdancing blows up Middle East scene
So much has already been said about the way hip-hop culture resonates with youth in communities around the world - but it’s still pretty fascinating to witness, especially here in the Middle East.
A major part of hip-hop’s influence has come in the form of breakdancing, something young people in the region have been particularly passionate about for years. They include the talented Ahmed Fahim, a B-Boy originally from Morocco who’s used his dizzying dance skills to secure a spot in the hottest competition on the globe.
As the UAE winner of the Red Bull BC One contest, Fahim, also known by his B-Boy name Peppa, will be competing next against the best breakdancers from the Middle East and Africa when he travels to Algeria in September. Those participants are all vying for the chance to showcase their styles at the grand finals in Paris later this year.
Anyone with even a limited knowledge of the Arab world’s breakdancing scene would know how deeply the art form has familiarised itself with young Moroccans, and Fahim is a good symbol of that popularity. His winning performance that took place a few weeks ago in Dubai showed his rivals that he was intent on proving himself at any cost.
“I expected to win,” Fahim, 22, said as he showed off some of his eccentric moves along the boardwalk at JBR. “A lot of my competitors were talking trash, so I used that anger and aggression during our battles. I wanted badly to prove them wrong.”
The judging panel, including international B-Boy favourites Cico, Ronnie and Lamine, all agreed and awarded Fahim the opportunity to proceed to the BC One regional finals where the competition is expected to be a great deal more intense.
After two years in Dubai Fahim has firmly integrated into the local breakdancing community, but he fears it’s starting to lack in its progression. A lack of available practise spaces doesn’t help, contributing to an overall lack of development for enthusiasts here.
“B-Boys in the UAE can be very lazy and tend to focus more on drama rather than dance,” he said. “Everyone seems to be waiting around for something to happen, but few actually take the initiative to put together tournaments and help the community grow stronger.”
This lack of cohesion has not stopped Fahim and friends from pursuing their collective hope of transforming the UAE into a major Middle Eastern hub for breakdancing alongside other elements of hip-hop culture.
“People here are not hungry enough and that’s the biggest thing that needs to change,” he explained. “There’s still a lot of interest from younger kids just starting out so I think more needs to be done to help elevate the sport.”
With the regional finals looming, Fahim will be representing the UAE with his own brand of explosive tricks and styles that are inspired by everything from martial arts to the wobbly steps of an infant, who he’s mimicking from a distance. After years of training and more failures than he cares to remember, the young B-Boy is confident that the Red Bull BC One title is his for the taking.
“I want it, so I plan on getting it.”