Ballroom dancing in Abu Dhabi
Top Middle East dance instructor on why you need more dance in your life 1 Comments
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The Middle East’s top dance instructor and Michael Jackson impersonator tells Kate Dobinson why people need Arthur Murray ballroom and Latin in their lives.
Anyone taught ballroom or Latin by Anas Otry at the newly opened Arthur Murray Dance School is very fortunate indeed.
The 30-year-old Syrian was not only crowned the Middle East’s number one specialist dance instructor in the world in 2013, but occasionally moonwalks to LA to impersonate Michael Jackson.
We talk to Anas about why everyone should try his classes and dance parties at Arthur Murray’s new branch on West Airport Road.
Let’s talk ‘Billie Jean’ and ‘Beat It’ – you began your dance career body poppin’ and shakin’ as MJ?
I started dancing when I was eight-years-old – I loved Michael Jackson and was just copying him. I started my career as an MJ impersonator – I’m the Number 1 in the Middle East and do shows between LA and Las Vegas. I’m heading to LA in June, so maybe I will have MJ shows there.
Have you met any of the Jackson brothers?
I met The Jackson Five in 2012 in Dubai. My brother is a TV presenter for the Arabic version of Entertainment Tonight, he’s the main producer, and he was looking for a fan to interview them. Because I know a lot about the Jacksons and about Michael, I officially sat with them and did the interview. When I met them I felt like I knew them because I’ve been a fan for my whole life. I performed a short tribute in front of them and it was amazing.
How did you start working for Arthur Murray?
After I moved to the UAE 10 years ago, I was working on and off with independent schools because there weren’t many dance schools back then, so it was mainly private lessons, and then it grew from there. I won a lot of competitions and I was the top specialist dance instructor in the world in 2013. There’s approximately 300 Arthur Murray schools around the world and we are competing against ones in Brazil, New York and Vegas – a lot of schools.
Tell us about Arthur Murray’s dance philosophy…
We have every type of dance in ballroom and Latin, such as waltz, tango, cha-cha and Argentine tango. We get the training to cover every type of dance, whereas other schools might just do salsa. The main challenge is to keep students interested and what we need to remember is that good students are the reflection of their teachers. A good student has a good teacher.
Are your students beginners or super-duper pros?
Most students have never danced in their lives. They first come for an introductory lesson to see if they like it and for us to highlight their strengths and weak points, and to see if they want to start a programme.
Once you finish your assessment lesson – and many have great rhythm naturally – I will be able to figure out what you’re naturally able to do, then I can judge how many lessons you need. I’ve got students who have been with me for over five years, from 18-65-years-old.
What does a typical starter package involve?
The Arthur Murray package is typically six private lessons of 45 minutes each, with two group classes and a weekly meet to practise what’s learned in classes. There are disco lights and music, and it’s supervised by teachers who do spotlight dances and demonstrations. We also do theme parties such as a ‘40 years later’ theme where everybody dressed as old people. There are also the big April and November showcases; a whole day event where the students show off their skills.
Why do you love to dance?
Dancing is a passion and you can’t get rid of dancing very easily. I write, I love art and it’s all related. What makes me do it is that I’ve realised how much people need to dance – dancing can help a lot of people. I don’t know where I’d be if it wasn’t for dancing. I have physically sick students and they are so thankful to have dancing in their lives. It’s human connection – you are interacting with people. It makes me so happy to give people that, and that’s what keeps me doing what I do.
By Kate Dobinson
Dhs100 for 45-minute single and couples taster lesson. Arthur Murray Dance School, 15-2 West Airport Road, Abu Dhabi, www.arthurmurraydubai.com (02 645 7372).
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