Cover Story

Movers and shakers

May 9 - May 15, 2024
Gulf Weekly Movers and shakers
Gulf Weekly Movers and shakers
Gulf Weekly Movers and shakers

Gulf Weekly  Melissa Nazareth
By Melissa Nazareth

BAHRAINI dancer Abdulrahman Al Hamar aka Huey Flava won first place at the latest edition of the popular Sole DXB breaking competition in Dubai and hopes to further promote the art following its addition as a ‘new sport’ in the Paris Olympics this year.

Break dance is a dynamic, acrobatic street-born style performed by individuals known as b-boys and b-girls. It’s a part of hip-hop culture, which originated in the African American community in the Bronx in New York City.

B-boy Huey was one of two to represent the kingdom at Sole DXB, an annual lifestyle and street culture festival, held in Dubai Design District in the UAE. The event features a range of artistic mediums including dance to create an enjoyable, educational experience.

Celebrating hip-hop culture, the 2023 edition held in December witnessed the participation of 120 dancers from countries around the world, including Bahrain, Oman, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Kuwait, Morocco, Tunisia, the US, Russia, France and the UK. Huey bagged the first place, spotlighting Bahrain’s breaking scene on a regional platform.

“It was a great experience performing in an energetic atmosphere with so many other creative people,” the 29-year-old told GulfWeekly. “Not only did I get to connect with other dancers but also to learn – the judges provided us with valuable feedback. All in all, I will cherish the experience as it pushed me to reach new heights, and offered me the opportunity to be part of such a vibrant community.”

Huey got into breaking by chance in 2007 when he came across some people throwing shapes at Andalus garden. The style intrigued him but it remained just a hobby until the day he met his hero a year later – then, there was no looking back.

“I met my inspiration (international breaking sensation) Jawhar Zitouni aka Jazzy Zilla from Tunisia and learned a lot about dance from him. I have been breaking for 17 years and it’s been an enriching experience, learning and competing,” he revealed.

The Zayed Town resident is a three-time winner of the Red Bull BC One Bahrain Cypher and claimed the Middle East crown in 2018 when he bagged first place in the Red Bull BC One Cypher Middle East. In 2019, he was invited to participate in Dancesport, a competitive dance competition that’s part of the Asian Games, and came fourth. Huey has also qualified for other international dance events like the popular Yalta Summer Jam in 2019 and took part in several small jams in the Gulf region.

In a double whammy, the kingdom had its proud moment when Bahraini b-boy Mubarak Salmeen aka Brookie Funk qualified in the top four at Sole DXB. He has won many local and regional competitions, including Battle Of The Year in Dubai in 2012, the Slam Fam jam in Dubai in 2017 and 2018, and the Keep It Real jam in Thailand in 2017.

Brookie Funk, also a Jazzy Zilla fan, took up the dance form after being inspired by his brother Ahmed Salmeen – one of the first generation of Bahraini break dancers. He has been practising the art for the last 17 years.

“Ahmed was one of the best but had to stop due to a car accident. That didn’t deter him and he switched to music and became a DJ. He is one of my greatest inspirations,” the 30-year-old explained, adding that he decided to ‘carry on the tradition’.

Breaking first featured at the Summer Youth Olympic Games in Buenos Aires in 2018 and following its outstanding success, it was added to the Paris 2024 Olympic programme as a new sport, which has lit a spark in the hearts of local talents to represent their country on an international scale.

“Our passion for breaking has given us motivation to work hard and grow in the regional and international scenes, and having a sponsor will surely help us further to represent Bahrain in many global events and even the 2024 Paris Olympics,” Brookie Funk said.

“We are focused on investing in the younger generations’ growth by conducting regular classes in several schools and studios. Our goal is to have a place of our own to teach and share the positivity of hip-hop,” he added.

Both Huey and Brookie Funk are actively involved with the Red Ants Army, a local ‘authentic hip-hop movement’ established in 2008.

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