Young Moroccan dancers tell tale of growing industry’s dark side

Young Moroccan dancers tell tale of growing industry’s dark side

Dance, a universal expression of body and soul, has been a beautiful means of communication and cultural preservation in numerous societies, including the vibrant Moroccan culture. 

From traditional dances that showcase the richness of Moroccan heritage to a burgeoning modern dance industry, Morocco has witnessed a dance revolution that owes much of its success to the power of social media. 

This article explores the journey of Moroccan dancers, the challenges they face, and their aspirations to create an inclusive and flourishing dance industry in their homeland.

Moroccan dances have long been an integral part of the nation’s culture, with each region boasting its unique dance forms and traditions. 

These dances, steeped in history and symbolism, offer a glimpse into the cultural diversity that makes Morocco so enchanting. 

As the dance landscape evolved, traditional dances continued to be cherished as a reminder of the country’s rich heritage and as a celebration of the distinct identities of different communities.

The rise of modern dance in Morocco

The Moroccan dance scene underwent a transformation as it embraced modern influences and international styles. 

A new generation of dancers emerged, blending different dance forms and expressing their artistic visions through social media platforms like YouTube, Instagram, and TikTok. 

These platforms offered unprecedented visibility to Moroccan dancers, allowing them to showcase their talent and creativity to a global audience.

L’Baroque: A dance sanctuary in the heart of Rabat

In 2017, a dance studio named L’Baroque opened its doors in the Moroccan capital, Rabat. 

Founded by Adnani Yassine and his friends, this studio quickly gained popularity, becoming a symbol of hope for aspiring dancers. 

L’Baroque’s dance videos went viral, garnering millions of views and amassing a massive following on social media.

Yassine’s Journey: A dream realized

For Adnani Yassine, dance was not merely a passion but a lifelong commitment. He reminisces about his dance journey, which began in 2009, shortly before the legendary performer Michael Jackson’s passing. 

Yassine, a former performing dancer and choreographer, poured his heart and soul into L’Baroque, assembling a talented group of 18 dancers who eventually became the official members of the studio.

A push for inclusivity: Breaking barriers and norms

Yassine’s vision for L’Baroque extended beyond commercial success. He aimed to normalize dancing in households that held reservations about their children pursuing dance careers. 

By offering a sanctuary for dance lovers, Yassine challenged the industry’s elitism and paved the way for greater inclusivity.

“We can’t undermine the role of private schools in helping this industry. The only problem is that it’s too expensive for the majority of people. They have a very elitist public, a selective specific niche. MAD 700 a month is half the salary of some families, which makes it impossible for their kids to join such facilities,” he further stated.

Despite the rapid growth of the dance industry, it faces its share of challenges. Access to private dance schools can be financially prohibitive for many families, preventing talented individuals from pursuing their dreams. 

Moreover, the industry is not immune to favoritism and nepotism, which hinders fair opportunities for aspiring dancers.

Stars in the making

One of L’Baroque’s brightest stars, Haitam Lahjouji, shares his journey into the world of dance, which began in 2017. 

“I used to live above a bank in Mohammedia, I used to look at some guys dancing in the bank tiles and I started trying to copy their moves on my own, then I started watching dance movies which inspired me to start,” said Haitam on how he started this journey.

As a full-time dancer, Haitam hopes to continue his artistic pursuits indefinitely. However, he acknowledges the dark side of the industry, where recognition is scarce, and unhealthy rivalries among dancers and choreographers create toxic work environments.

For Iqbal Marwa Hadeq, dance was a newfound passion that she discovered through YouTube in 2011. 

As an 18-year-old student, Iqbal uses dance as a liberating outlet for negative energy. 

Through dance, she experienced a profound personal transformation, becoming a more confident and outgoing individual.

A safe space for aspiring female dancers

Hajar Aouna, a rising dance choreographer based in Rabat, addresses a pressing issue in the Moroccan dance scene—the lack of adequate dance studios and schools. 

Through her dance classes exclusively for girls, Hajar endeavors to create a safe and non-judgmental space where young dancers can thrive and develop their skills.

“When the global pandemic hit, the international dance scene continued to grow and evolve, but in Morocco, we are still fighting over basic things. We need more help from our country to be able to practice dance correctly,” explained Aouna.

Adil Nakach: A true talent’s journey

Adil Nakach, popularly known as Mongoose, is a house, afro house, and hip-hop dancer hailing from Casablanca. 

He embarked on his dance journey in 2006 and witnessed the evolution of the dance industry over the years. 

While the industry has grown, he advocates for greater accessibility to dance schools and higher-quality training.

One of the challenges the Moroccan dance industry faces is the hunger for fame, sometimes driving individuals to compromise their beliefs for recognition. 

The pursuit of fame at any cost threatens the authenticity and integrity of the art form, casting a shadow over the industry.

The impact of social media: A game changer for Moroccan dancers

Despite the industry’s challenges, social media has emerged as a game-changer for Moroccan dancers. 

It has not only familiarized the Moroccan audience with dance but also provided a platform for dancers to showcase their talents, promote their art, and secure employment opportunities.

The world of Moroccan dance is a tapestry of culture, creativity, and passion. From traditional dances deeply ingrained in the country’s heritage to modern urban dance studios, Morocco’s dance scene is thriving and evolving despite hardships.


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