Jeddah: For Saudi dancer Ahmad Falatah, dancing means to “feel present, live in the moment and connect with myself.”
The 29-year-old is one from that rare breed of serious Saudi dancers, who excels in contemporary, hip-hop and R&B dancing styles.
Apart from the popular traditional folkloric dance Aradah in Saudi Arabia, other forms of dance or dancers are not quite common in the kingdom.
Ballroom dancing came to the kingdom in the 70s but was strictly closed-door events among the elite.
Falatah says that the youth today have taken a liking to hip-hop and urban dance, but most of them do not pursue it as a career due to the conservative nature of the society.
He, however, holds no inhibitions in calling himself a professional full-time dancer.
He became interested in dance at the age of 11 when he stumbled across Michael Jackson’s music video of Thriller.
“I am still amazed by the entire concept of the song and the detailed, intricate and iconic dancing steps,” he says.
Since then, Falatah has watched every video of Michael Jackson, and learned and memorised every dance routine of the King of Pop.
Over the years, the self-taught artist also learned different dancing styles like popping, bboying, hip-hop, locking, voguing, waacking and salsa.
“Dancing I have come to believe is the first language of love and motivation,” said Falatah with a smile.
The dance-enthusiast also revealed that luckily his family and friends have been very encouraging and supportive towards him pursuing a career as a professional dancer.
Falatah has performed at private events in compounds; and as the society gradually opened up and embraced change in the last few years, he started gigging at public events as well.
He has also participated in various dance competitions in the Gulf.
During one of the qualifying rounds at a dance competition in Kuwait, Falatah said, “ I was so engrossed and focused on the music and my dance moves that I could literally feel every muscle in my body dancing. It was such a rare occurance. I have been trying to experience and feel that kind of an energy within me again.”
Without many dancing instructors or studios in Jeddah, let alone Saudi Arabia, Falatah decided to share his passion with others by conducting dance workshops.
Around three years ago, Falatah rented a small studio to run his dance classes, and needless to say, he was overwhelmed by the response from both boys and girls, mostly Saudis and Arabs in between the ages 18–30, who were interested in learning how to dance.
People are finding out now that dancing is a great way to express emotion or release tension, he says.
“This workshop was amazing. It awakened my soul again. It gave me a feeling of connec-tion with music. I am so grateful for attending this workshop for now my heart dances with music,” one of Falatah’s students, Afnan Habib told Gulf News.
“I’ve not only learned different styles of dances but also how to create harmony between my dance and music,” says another student, Refaat Faris.
A typical day in Falatah’s life revolves around creating and working on new dance routines.
He has particularly enjoyed dancing to his own choreography to Leon Bridges’ “Mrs”.
“I look for new music videos everyday to bring something fresh to the table for my students and performances. I seek inspiration from art, movies and TV shows.”
Falatah’s top priority is to travel to Hawaii to major in art and theater at the Atlantic International University.
With the rapid social changes in the kingdom, Falatah hopes that in the future the dancing scene in Saudi Arabia will evolve and will be at par with the Western and Eastern dance scenes.