Moufdi El Bellaj can be labeled as the first Arab hip hop break dancer who has revolutionized the genre of dance in the Middle East. Rabis M catches up with the founder of Xtremer Dance Crew Moufdi El Bellaj who is based in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.
Moufdi El Bellaj, born on 1981 in Morocco, started his dancing career back when he was only 12 years old, where he began taking hip hop and break dancing lessons. By the age of 14, he wanted to learn all aspects of dance whether it was practical, theoretical or historical. It was after several years of training he began performing professionally in musicals, shows, stage performances, events and numerous avenues of entertainment. He extensively traveled to Europe and the Middle East performing at few of the following events: Cannes Film Festival, Dubai Summer Festival, The Legends Rock (Dubai), OK Middle East Launch Party (Dubai), Refelle Et Mervaille Shows (Marrakesh), Nutcracker Musical (Denmark). He also appeared in several music videos: Nancy Ajram, TV commercial for New Ford Edge, promotional video for Yara Productions, Viva Show (Germany) and so on.
Breaking into break dancing?
Moufdi El Bellaj: I have always had an admiration for the art of break dancing, for me it’s all about an involvement an extreme amount of strength, power and precision and I enjoy the ‘crowd pleasing’ presence that it gives to an audience. My training started back when I was 12 years old, I was training on the street with a group of my friends and also family. What really inspires me in the world of dance, is literally everything, the greatest thing about break dancing is that every person, group and even country has their own unique style. There are numerous dancers from the U.S. who inspire me due to the fact they tend to adhere to the fundamental roots of break dance while incorporating their own ‘flavor’ and personality into their moves. As long as I can remember, my life has been all about dance, there is a great passion for it, I have always danced.
MEB: My first performance was at the age of 15, it was on the street, a street show, it felt natural and I have always been confident with my dancing although I was eager to see people's reaction to watching me perform. The reaction was overwhelming, people clapping and screaming asking me how I performed those moves and where I learnt them; I explained that I was self-taught which they found hard to believe.
MEB: Being a break dancer in an Arab society is not easy, it is very challenging, when I first came to Dubai, there was no dancing trend at all. By introducing the whole trend of dancing in an Arab society was not easy, as they were not familiar with this type of art, it was seen as something that was not seen or performed before. These days it is a lot easier as the dancing and hip hop culture seems to be taking off and may people enjoying the fun and excitement it has to offer.
MEB: It is a connection between people, an expression of emotion through movement and if performed in the right manner, it can touch someone’s heart deeply and make them love and comprehend the art of dance. I define my style focusing on power moves and acrobat, even though I incorporate all aspects of basic break dance and evolve every move to create something fresh every time.
MEB: I have performed in several music videos but I will narrow it down to Arabic artists, for instance: Nancy Ajram, I choreographed her video clip ‘Eli Kan’.
On being an exceptional dancer?
MEB: In order to be a proficient break dancer, one must have the passion to learn and dedicate themselves to constant practice, having a good instructor and learning the fundamental and the right techniques is imperative. In addition to that, watching and modeling better dancers to encourage and educate you further to develop your own unique style. Battles give you experience especially with free styling solo battles. I personally train everyday for two to five hours a day to keep my moves polished.
MEB: Performing at major events such as; World Cup Horse Racing, World Cup Akro Ball, The Legends Rock Dubai, Bob Sinclair & opening shows for Kelly Rolland, Akon, Fat Joe, and Black Violent.
The experience in dance institutions?
MEB: The Ballet Centre Dubai, where I taught for two years. The Kadomz Dance Studio in Dubai Marina Mall where I train potential dancers. Since the teaching academy was launched, it’s been doing very well, so far it has gained recognition in U.A.E and it has brought a major evolution in the dancing style of my students, it has revitalised their moves. Also, my moral is to get good dancers aboard. The feedback I have received has been tremendous, there has been a lot of appreciation, joy and delight on the faces of the students.
The importance of a positive attitude?
MEB: Dancing is my life, as long as I have been dancing generating ideas won’t be an obstacle, also the more experience I get the easier I find it to come up with new fabulous moves. I believe love what you do and do what you love, that attitude can take you a long way ahead, on the road to success, as long as you are determined to work hard.
A final message?
MEB: A big thank you to everyone who support the Xtremer Crew globally and believe in us.
Images courtesy of Moufdi El Bellaj
– Rabis M for Khaleejesque.