Yeocheva for WDCD: Hi, can you please present yourself?
Taha: Hi, my name is Taha, I am 24 years old and in the breaking world I go by the name Bboy Shibl. I am originally from Libya but I was born and raised in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.
Yeocheva: When and how did you start dancing?
Taha: I was five years old when I first saw someone dancing, and it was my older brother. I have two older brothers and they are both bboys. They would always invite other bboys to practice, dance, share ideas and techniques (a bboy is a break boy or Bronx boy that was named after the Bronx, a borough of New York. A bboy is a dancer who dances on the breaks of the music).
My first dancing memory was a big competition I joined in 2012. I was then thirteen years old. Once I got up on stage, I looked around and I saw a big crowd and realized how important all of this was to me, being able to share my talent and doing something that makes me happy. It just gave me this amazing feeling that until this day I feel every time I get up on stage to dance. Hip-hop to me is a lifestyle, the way I dress and look at fashion, the way I express myself, the music I listen to, the work I do, hip hop is how I live my life.
Yeocheva: How do you feel when dancing?
Taha: Dancing is an expression of who I am, when I dance I feel like I’m in my own world. To me, dancing is an integral part of life. It brings me joy and feeds my soul.
Yeocheva: What is your responsibility as an artist towards society? Especially here.
Taha: My responsibility is to share my knowledge. To teach people about hip hop culture and try to change their perception of it. There are many things that people can learn through hip hop culture, it helps people express their feelings in different ways.
Yeocheva: What could dancing and especially hip-hop bring to the society of the United Arab Emirates?
Taha: Dancing is a culture with no language, it brings people from different cultures, ethnicities, and nationalities together and unites people.
Yeocheva: What is the opposite of dancing? (one word is sufficient)
Yeocheva: What dance can do… How t<does his resonate with you according to your own life and experience?
Taha: When I’m having a bad day, dancing helps me calm my soul, it has changed my character and has helped me express myself and grow. I have grown into a better version of myself because of dancing. Through dancing, I was able to communicate and get to know a lot of artists. I found my key to happiness. Whenever I feel down or unable to focus, dancing helps me regain confidence and concentration. When a child feels scared, it goes running to his parents because his parents might be the only ones who can keep him safe and give him all the love he needs. This is what dancing is for me.
Yeocheva: How was dancing accepted in your family and in the society in general?
Taha: At the beginning, I was not really supported by my family because they thought dance would not give me anything. They didn’t really understand what I was doing. I used to have very bad communication with my father who thought it would keep me away from my education and that would not provide me with an income. He wanted me to go to school and become an engineer, a doctor, a journalist… Also, we get injuries when we practice. Every time I go back home, I complain about having a back pain, a knee pain. He thinks dancing is destroying my health. To me, it’s very different, when I have injuries, I feel like I achieved something: it’s something not easy that I am actually doing. Good things never come easy!
Society here does not accept hip-hop too well. People see hip-hop as something coming from the Western world, which many do not approve of. They never think we could do something out of it. Back in the days in 2010, we would get arrested for just practicing in the streets. Until today, hip-hop is not getting enough support over here : most people don’t really understand the value and impact of what we do. They think hip-hop is a gangsters thing.
To conclude, dance can change a life, it can make you feel that you are something, someone. I always ask myself what I would do with my life if I didn’t dance, who I would be. Without dancing, I would not get the chance to see and understand different cultures, to meet different people and be open to all.