Morocco, as told through hip-hop dance.

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      After traveling thousands of miles around the world and arriving in the city of Meknes, Morocco, I was greeted with an unexpected surprise, a trip to an international, urban, hip-hop dance competition. Films like “Step Up” had already popularized this type of dancing in the States, but I was wholly unprepared for such a similar type of expression in Morocco. Subsequent to my conversations with some of the dancers, I realized that the motivations behind hip-hop dance are quite akin to dancers in Western nations, therefore establishing a common bond and understanding that left Morocco feeling not so dissimilar to America. 

      The throbbing bass, the encouragement of the crowd, the heavy, humid feeling of a sweaty auditorium left me feeling as if I had stumbled onto the set of that Step Up film. These common sensations left my time at the competition seeming very familiar, but with a distinct Moroccan flair. The event served as a bridge by which I could meet Moroccans my age, hopefully allowing me to catch a glimpse at their unique way of life. In my discussions with these dancers, I sensed a personal longing, that was conveyed through the method of dance. Each person loved their life in Morocco, and yet there was a common desire to break free and experience somewhere beyond their familiar borders. I was told stories by Salah– a dancer of a crew who specialized in “krumping” a specific style within hip-hop dance– of another dancer from Morocco who went on to become a background dancer for Beyonce. The thoughtful look in his eyes as he spoke betrayed his desires for a similar fate, not out of desperation, but of opportunity. 

      While I am not a hip-hop dancer by any means, Aziz’s words struck a similar cord with my own hopes. Through a different medium, music, I practice and refine my own works with the faintest hopes that someone will happen to hear me play and I am whisked away from the prospect of a dead-end, 9-to-5 job. The shot of achieving this kind of success is incredibly slim for both Salah and I, but the drive from something more is what makes both forms of expression so meaningful. This drive is our connector, giving us the opportunity to bond in ways previously thought to be unlikely. The landscape and culture of our experiences may be dissimilar, but the desires and dreams of Salah are quite reminiscent of my own. We may both be unknown artists right now, but I know I’ll keep an eye on Beyonce’s stage in the future, hopefully catching a glimpse of my Moroccan friend. 

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