Choreographer, dancer and actor, Baher Ahmed was born and raised in Cairo, Egypt, known to the world as the ‘city of a thousand minarets.’ And, much like many dancers in his generation, his introduction to the world of dance began with a gentle nudge in the right direction.
In Baher’s story, that nudge came from his mother, who enrolled him at the Academy of Arts in Cairo when he was just 7 years old. The Academy was where Baher was introduced to the discipline of ballet. As he grew older, he made many friends in the industry and eventually, went on to feature in TV commercials. It was during this formative period as a young man, that Baher was exposed to styles beyond the chaseés and coupés of his formal training in ballet.
Soon, he developed a special affinity for other styles such as break-dancing, contemporary, salsa, popping and hip-hop. After graduating from the Academy, Baher joined the Cairo Opera House and spent two years performing in ballet theatre productions. But, his personal flair for the more individualistic, expressive, free-form style of dance led him to join the contemporary dance department at the Opera House.
It was during this time, at this place – both physically and within himself – that he came home to contemporary and started making the style his own. His personal style of dance became a fusion of different techniques, movements and silhouettes that was a culmination of everything he had been exposed to over the years. At this time, he began to feature more prominently in TV commercials and music videos, eventually participating in break-dancing competitions.
His fearless approach to experimentation and his passion for learning and developing his skills, saw him being hailed as one of the top 16 break-dancers in Egypt in 2015. Less than four years later, he reached another milestone in his career, being named one of the top 8 in the country.
During this time, he had the opportunity to travel extensively and find his feet as a global citizen, exploring the nuances of different dance styles associated with different parts of the world. His travels took him throughout the Middle East and Asia, where he visited countries like Algeria, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Kuwait and Jordan, as well as a host of European countries.
As he travelled, he danced, showcasing his talents in foreign countries and carving out a niche for himself in the boundless world of dance. Somewhere amidst this flurry of adventure and in between moments of revelation and self-discovery, Baher followed his feet to Dubai, where he began working as a dancer and choreographer.
Touchdown in the UAE
He has since built a thriving career and earned himself the reputation of being one of the city’s most sought-after performers, bringing his fusion style to stages across Dubai. Although he draws on several different styles that have spanned his multi-faceted career, Baher gravitates naturally towards the contemporary style of dance, which in his opinion, is more “open” and less governed by strict parameters or technical rules.
His journey as a dancer and choreographer is about giving expression to his imagination. The music - its beat, its timbre and the intersection between harmony and melody, serve as his guides when choreographing pieces. With music as his inspiration, he has directed many pieces used for stage performances, broadcasted shows, dance workshops and independent productions.
One of the milestones of his career as a choreographer is a 40-minute performance inspired by the book, 50 Shades of Grey and its second installment, Fifty Shades Darker. To bring the piece to life, Baher drew on his technical proficiency as a seasoned performer, while incorporating other elements such as lights, costumes and decor to create a well-rounded performance that was designed to draw the audience into another dimension.
Baher took to the stage as the lead, and danced alongside 4 women dancers, who represented the heroines of the story. For Baher, one of the highlights of the performance was seeing tears in the eyes of audience members. It was testament to the fact that he had succeeded in conveying a powerful message, through movement. And at its most granular level, the language of dance is simply that – a story waiting to be told.
Wear the inspiration
Baher is the muse behind his very own namesake design, the Baher Striped Pants. The design combines just enough function with the perfect amount of form, to give dancers a full range of motion while also doubling up as something you could wear on a coffee date, at home or in the fitness studio. With vertical, pinstripe detailing, the Baher makes a classic statement, offset by plain back panelling on the inner leg – the perfect pairing for a top, leotard or bodysuit in any colour
The Baher is made from a 4-way stretch textile that is durable, breathable and quick-drying. The fabric itself is made from recycled plastic which may have otherwise ended up in the ocean and other natural environments. Comfort? Tick. Sustainability? Tick. Figure-fitting form that’s designed with the dancer in mind? That’s a definite tick.
When he’s not on the stage, captivating the crowds, you’ll find Baher on his surfboard, catching a few waves or shooting hoops at the basketball court. And of course, whenever he gets a chance, he flicks through the latest dance competitions to keep an eye on what’s hot and happening in the world of dance.
His advice for aspiring dancers is simple. “To be a dancer who can perform a variety of styles, you need to work hard. Take classes, study the techniques of other dancers, watch online videos and tutorials. And when you’re ready, find a style that you love and that loves you back. Then dance, and keep on dancing.”