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The Heartbeat of Hip-Hop

When you watch Mostafa Ahmed dance, you’ll more than likely feel like you’re watching an act of acrobatics. 

His ‘front flip and stare’ was described by one audience member as ‘nasty.’ But unlike the definition in everyday linguistic terms, being referred to as ‘nasty’ in the dancing world is a good thing – a very good thing. 

But when you chat to Mostafa, you won’t get anything you may expect from a world-class performer, someone who has earned their stripes through hours and hours of blood, sweat and tears. He is in fact, a very humble, down-to-earth individual who attributes much of his success to being able to rub shoulders with some of the dancers who he considers to be among the best in the world. 

It’s refreshing – to meet someone who is so obviously at the top of his game, yet who embodies what it means to truly believe that perfection is rooted in progress. And Mostafa is willing to put in the work. 

From Cairo to centrestage

Mostafa was born in Cairo, Egypt. When he was younger, he was enrolled in karate classes and over the years, spent a great deal of time learning other forms of martial arts. Somewhere in between his rigorous training sessions and classes, he discovered someone who would later become his very own muse – Michael Jackson. 

His passion for watching Michael Jackson dance and emulating his style quickly became an obsession. Once he’d learnt how to perform some of Michael’s trademark moves, he began watching Bollywood movies and scrutinising every move in their intricate routines. As a young boy, he found himself gravitating less towards his background in martial arts and more towards dance. Eventually, he started doing parkour. 

In parkour, he found the fluidity of movement he needed to make his foray into the world of break-dancing. First on his list of priorities was learning to flip. From there, he worked hard to develop the makings of a thriving career in dance.

Mostafa began watching B-boy routines, power moves and tricks on Youtube and discovered his natural inclination towards the world of hip-hop. Fast-forward to the age of 18 and Mostafa got a job at the local theatre where he became part of the cast that performed a number of shows in theatre and in national parks throughout Egypt. 

Joining the theatre’s troupe of dancers was a pivotal moment for Mostafa. It was there that he encountered the broader dance community and was exposed to styles like ballet, jazz and contemporary. By the time he became a freelance performer, he had danced alongside some of the most talented dancers in the country and grown into a well-rounded performing artist with proficiency in several different styles. 

Onwards to Dubai 

His dancing career was put on hold briefly when he decided to join the army for one year. But, as the fates would have it, his feet took him back to the stage, and in a moment of personal revelation, he decided to take decisive action and joined a group of his friends who had all decided to move to Dubai. 

In Dubai, he met Alaa Krimed, a choreographer and movement expert who works for the Sima Dance Company in Dubai, a school that has earned world renown for its spectacular and moving performances. Alaa became somewhat of a mentor for Mostafa and took him through his paces, helping him perfect his style for auditions and motivating him to keep learning, growing and building his skillset. Today, Mostafa has a flourishing career as a B-boy and dance performer who has since become a two-time Red Bull Dance Your Style UAE champion. 

Beyond words

Mostafa describes his style as a hybrid of everything he has learnt and perfected over his lifetime. His heart however, will always be in hip-hop – a style that he believes captures his energy and personal style of self-expression. Dance is however, so much more than a performance art for Mostafa. It is something that is deeply personal, something that has become an integral part of his identity, something that provides a release and a chance to reflect, regroup and let go. 

As he explains: “when I dance, I can release everything that’s inside of me. I can express so much through movement, rather than through words. It’s freedom. When I hear music, my body just responds instinctively. I’ve come to a place now in my life and career where I don’t need to hear music from an external source. The music has become part of who I am. It’s always playing in my head and my heart, and my body responds. The beat is with me, and in me, all the time.”

In terms of choreography, Mostafa puts it this way: “I turn the music into moves and the moves into music. I am inspired by everything that happens in my own world as well as what happens in the world around me. My choreography reflects everything that’s happened in my life and the stories I want to put out into the world. Everything can be expressed through dance.” 

Move like Mostafa

When it comes to dance gear, Mostafa always puts movement first. If a piece of clothing can allow for a full range of movement as a B-boy – including flips, splits and rolls, that’s one of the most important boxes to tick. Apart from that, if it looks cool and feels comfortable, it’s a definite yes. Our Mostafa Pants was inspired by this philosophy. WIth its elasticated cuffs, lightweight structure and breathable, four-way stretch fabric, it’s the pants to wear when the beat’s about to take you places. 

Sharing a word for aspiring dancers, Mostafa says that: “To be a dancer, you need to be hard-working. You need to be dedicated. And you need to dance with passion. Then, find the dancers who are also great teachers and learn from them. Study how they do what they do, learn from the best. The rest – is pure magic.” 

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