Gettin' jiggy with it

Dalia Rabie
6 Min Read

We all secretly want to be in a music video. We sing into our hairbrushes, we dance in front of our mirrors, all part of our fantasies that the cameras are rolling and all eyes are on us.

For some of us, said music video is hip hop. The confidence and attitude that go hand-in-hand with the genre make it exciting – not to mention our aspirations to shake it like Beyonce.

Fitness center Body Works offers women the chance to get in touch with their hidden hip hop personas and break it down .

Brining those moves fresh from New York, where hip hop culture originated, is Dalia El Nazer. Her passion for dancing and training in the Big Apple inspired her to introduce hip hop dancing to Cairo.

“I hadn’t planned on taking it on a professional level. All I knew was that I have a passion for dancing, she said.

El Nazer is no stranger to learning steps, and following choreography she had taken up synchronized swimming professionally and explained that when she stopped, she felt like something was missing. It was then that she began entertaining the idea of taking her dancing further.

El Nazer did her research, got in touch with different choreographers and used online forums until she narrowed it down to the Broadway Dance Center (BDC) in New York, where she enrolled for a three-month program.

She challenged herself by enrolling in advanced classes. “I traveled all the way to New York. I figured I might as well push myself, and I think I was up to the challenge, she said.

El Nazer attended three classes a day that included jazz funk, hip hop, street jazz, locking and popping, and had only one day off a week. She was taught by choreographers who worked with the likes of Missy Elliot and Justin Timberlake.

El Nazer’s parents and friends were supportive of her decision to pursue dance. However, she explains that others might find it out of the ordinary, “but they probably don’t know what hip hop is about.

Upon her return from New York, Amani Hafez, co-owner of Body Works, suggested that El Nazer give hip hop classes at the center. “I looked at it as a good opportunity. It was also a way for me to keep practicing.

A little over a month in, and it is clear El Nazer’s moves got off on the right foot. The classes were originally scheduled to be conducted once a week but due to the high turnout, it was changed to twice.

“People are very excited about it; they are trying out something new and fun. There are always new techniques and choreography, she explained.

Before the class begins, El Nazer explains to the girls lined up behind her that this is not an aerobics class, it is a dance class. She tells them that the word “Freestyle is their cue to “look at [themselves] in the mirror and just dance, do whatever [they] want and have fun.

“People walk out of the class feeling like they have learnt something new, El Nazer says. She adds that the feedback so far has been positive, with people asking her to extend the one-hour class.

El Nazer was initially worried that people would not be interested in a dance class, let alone hip hop, but her concerns were quickly put to rest. “The difference is that people here do it for fun, rather that for professional reasons like in New York.

Every month, her hip hop students are treated to a new original routine, choreographed by El Nazer herself. “It is like routines are copyrighted, I can’t copy someone else’s, it would feel like stealing, she says explaining that even though the moves are limited, it is the way you combine them and the flavor you add to them that makes them different.

El Nazer plans to go back to New York, where she can join different workshops and keep in “dance shape. She hopes to one day own her own dance school for children, where they can learn different genres, namely jazz, hip hop or tap.

Despite her hip hop alter ego, El Nazer plans to keep her day job. By day, she works as a knowledge management and outreach specialist for EQI, a development project funded by USAID.

The class’s vibrant energy attracts an audience of girls watching through the studio’s glass – including Amani Hafez herself. “Wow! It’s like a party in there, she said.

Body Works29 El-Shahid Ishak Yacoub St. Heliopolis Tel: (02) 291-6484, (016) 252-737

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