Dancers from UAE to perform Arab hip-hop on international stage

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The performance of the SnG dancers will be based on an Arabic theme.

A troupe of around 40 dancers of 12 nationalities will be representing the UAE in an international hip-hop competition to compete with 36 countries. The troupe – mostly comprises school students from the UAE – is part of Dubai-based Step N Groove (SnG) Dance Studio run by expats Subodh Panangatt and Suresh Kumar for the last 11 years. The age group of the dance troupe is between eight and 40.

The UAE dance troupe will be performing around three to four-minute sequences of various styles of hip hop at the Body Rock Asia competition that will be held in February in Manila, Philippines. Calling themselves the national team of hip-hop dancers from the UAE, the performance of the SnG dancers will be based on an Arabic theme.

“From the theme of the song to costume design, our performance is based on an Arabic theme. Although all participants are expats, this performance is our tribute to the UAE that has brought us together and given us this chance to call it our own country and represent it on an international stage, said Suresh Kumar.

“Going with the values of the UAE, we have a dedicated designer who is working on the design of the costumes to bring in the UAE touch – for example, we are looking to use stylish head-covers. Our song is being composed by a local DJ and has Arabic tunes and we promise to make it unique by bringing in ethnic wear in the colours of the UAE’s national flag,” he added.

Talking about the selection process, co-founder of SnG Subodh Panangatt said: “We got rejected a couple of times in the last few years and realised that to get selected we need to stand out. This is when we decided to bring different nationalities together as that is the real strength and beauty of the UAE.

“We brought in participants from India, Russia, Nepal, Bangladesh, Philippines among others and worked together to bring out our concept of unity through the unique concept of Arab hip-hop. The tremendous showcase of our dance skills and the beautiful mix of people of different nationalities and age-group definitely helped us get selected for this prestigious show.”

For the selection process, the team had to send an unedited video of a dance sequence, without any retakes or cuts. The Body Rock Asia jury then did a video call with the SnG group where they ask the participants to do a performance on the spot, which helped them and gauging the potential of the team before selecting them. 

This is the first time a UAE team is participating in Body Rock Asia. While teams from the UAE have taken part in international television dance competitions, this is the first team to take part in an on-stage live dance competition.