They say dancing is like telling a story. Well, one only has to watch Ahmed Kicks move to know that what they say is right. In my chat with him I learn his story and how he came to become such a lover of the powerful and influential street science of hip-hop.
Describe your journey into dance.
Sometimes, when I look back at everything, it feels like it was a journey I was meant to take. As a kid, I grew up listening to hip-hop because my brother was a DJ to the local music scene. Even as a young child, I loved the deep sensual beats of the genre and wanted to dig deeper into hip-hop culture. I was impressed by the huge impact hip-hop, as a way of life, has evolved and how it has changed many people’s perspectives towards minority and disenfranchised communities. I sort of got into it because of this power and influence that it affords individuals like me.
Hip-hop has origins in African-American culture. What does this mean for you coming from Sudan? What is the scene like in Sudan and how does that compare to Kuwait?
Hip-hop is all about originality and representing where you come from. In my last trip to Sudan I was able to discover so much about different tribes, their rituals, and how they dance. I was fascinated with they way their culture seeped into their dance style, so I was excited to try and merge what I had always done and what they were doing. I was impressed with the street dance scene that is developing in Sudan. I think it’s hard to compare Kuwait and Sudan because both are so unique in their own ways.
There are so many different categories and types of hip-hop dance; describe your style.
At the age of 13, I watched my first dance battle in Kuwait. I loved the energy and the competition. Thereafter, I started teaching myself through dance tutorials to improve my techniques. I love all types of hip-hop but I would say I mostly do Locking. Locking is a funky dance style that is mainly about pointing and wrist roll. I love the dynamism in that technique; I love how quickly it goes from hard to soft and how explosive it can become with whole body rolls and movements.
Where is your greatest source of inspiration for your dancing and choreography?
I’d say Michael Jackson is my biggest inspiration. Not only was his technique on point, but the energy and the way he executed every dance move was incredible. Among the choreographers I have worked with, Afid Zekhnini, my first mentor, and Pepito fractal, who has become a very good friend, are both huge influences for me.
Why do you think people choose dance as a way of expression?
Some people are not very good at expressing themselves through words. Dance gives you the opportunity to express and say whatever is on your mind without having the need to speak. It gives people the freedom to break away from whatever chains they have.
How does Kuwait’s diversity affect its dance scene?
As a conservative culture, it was hard to introduce something that’s completely different than what some people may be used to. Somehow, we managed to break through these barriers and help people in Kuwait see the art of street dance. Being in a dance group that has members from different parts of the world and with different backgrounds shapes our style. Originality and uniqueness are important factors for a great performance and that’s what we have here in Kuwait—a myriad of different people and ideas.
Recently, you were involved in a huge dance show called ASWAT. Can you tell me more about that?
The concept of the show is to mix Kuwaiti culture with hip-hop, taking the audience on a journey between past and present through dance. We even portrayed a piece about the “bedouin” where we show their struggle and how poorly they have been treated over time. ASWAT 3, our latest version of the show, was a massive success and our crew’s biggest endeavor yet!
Tell me about your crew. What’s next for you guys?
We are a bunch of random people that got together to share our passion and love of dance under LOYAC’s umbrella of support and sponsorship. It’s been years now since we started performing as a dance group and we are still like a family. That said, any dancer is welcomed to be part of our group. Currently, we are rehearsing for Peace of Art 2, which is going to be held at the 360 mall. Apart from that, we each have our own individual dance projects that give us a chance to stay creative despite our ‘real’ jobs.
You can follow Ahmed @mylifeaskicks on Instagram to keep updated with all his latest projects.