From Bollywood to HipHop, dance has been regarded as one of the most versatile and non-traditional ways of getting into shape. Being practiced as a form of fitness for many years, the art form allows full-body movement and provides an exciting change of pace with fitness benefits.
Dance and Martial Arts instructor and owner of Jaff Fit Studios, Jaff, has brought to Bahrain a remarkable dance experience through his Latin dance expertise. The award-winning instructor spoke to Perle Magazine about the dance form and how he has evolved with it.
Enthusiastic about sports from the very beginning, Jaff initially dedicated himself to partaking in and learning about a variety of sports activities. Being particularly interested in Tae Kwon Do, Jaff’s devotion resulted in him being selected to represent Bahrain in the Arab Olympic Championship in 1997 and 1999.
Jaff’s achievements in Tae Kwon Do also include being the seven-time undefeated champion of Bahrain in his weight-class.
Finding salsa challenging at first, Jaff stayed committed to the dance form and practiced endlessly for months before progressing from beginner to intermediate. His growing passion for salsa took him to Spain where he met with instructors who trained in him Cuban-style salsa. Upon discovering variations of salsa, such LA-Style and New York-Style, Jaff decided he wanted to refashion his dance technique and switched from dancing Cuban to LA-Style salsa.
When he first introduced salsa to the Kingdom, Jaff says there were hardly any males interested, which lead to a slow rise of the dance as it is commonly practiced in couples. Jaff’s decision to open his own studio resulted in him attracting more customers and also provided a private place to practice dance for those who were not comfortable to dance publicly.
Garnering almost 25 one-to-one dance clients and many more regular attendees, Jaff says his progressive dance classes offer various forms of Latin dance such as LA Style Salsa, Meringue, Bachata, and Cha Cha. The classes start with newcomers being placed in the beginner’s class and as they improve, they move onto the ‘improver’ and then finally advanced. To progress through the levels, he says, requires a lot of training and additional practice outside of classes as well. “Don’t think it will take one or two months, it takes a lot of time to get to the higher dance level”, he says. The tricky part is, he explains, that sometimes students who easily move from beginner to improver get stuck at that level and take longer to progress further.
The eclectic and flexible nature of the classes offered at Jaff Studios allows the students to experiment and add their own touch to the dance routines. Jaff explains that as one moves from country to country, each has its own spin on salsa; for example, in Africa salsa has native African dance steps incorporated into a routine whereas in the Arab world salsa is combined with various Arabic dancing techniques. Salsa, he says, can also be combined with other famous dance styles such as HipHop. Changes are constantly being made to the dance form that results in its variations.
Jaff’s hard work and dedication has also earned him the Bahrain Bailando Salsa Festival Award in 2014 for being the first instructor of salsa in the Kingdom. In his constant efforts to reach to new heights through salsa, Jaff travelled to various countries in the hopes of becoming a professional salsa dancer and representing Bahrain through dance. In 2011, on his trip to the United Kingdom, Jaff met with organiser Jimmy S.A. who gave him the chance to hold a workshop in April 2015 at the Teeside Festival and has also booked him for 2016’s festival. “He gave me my first chance to represent Bahrain internationally. It is a really big experience for me in Europe”, he says. Making a name for himself in the Arab world as well as on a global scale, Jaff has performed and will perform at various festivals in 2015 and has already been booked for performances in 2016.
Represented Bahrain in the Arab Olympic Championship in 1997 and 1999.
Seven-time undefeated champion of Bahrain in his weight-class in Tae Kwon Do.
Recipient of Bahrain Bailando Salsa Festival Award 2014.
Partaking in festivals such as the Oman Festival, Dubai Festival, Fuji (Fujairah) Festival, Jaff has also been asked to perform in Cyprus with one of the organisers and famous salsa band, The Sinners, and will be travelling to Lebanon with them as well.
Extending a special thanks to all the organisers – Thuwaini A. Al Harthy, Ahmed “Salsa”, and Abdo Joey Ibn Hanna – who, he says, encouraged him to pursue his dream of becoming a professional salsa performer. “The idea of representing Bahrain, through my dance and my school, has come from the organisers who are also my friends. They are helping me and pushing me to run workshops in Europe and in the Middle East and that lets me represent the country and put my name out there as a professional artist”, he says.
Placing emphasis on physical activity, Jaff’s studio also offers lessons in Martial Arts. The lessons take place three times a week and are for both children and adults, and are provided by Jaff and his highly trained staff. Combining his two passions together, Jaff was able to use his knowledge of body language picked up through martial arts and apply it to salsa to help his students relax before performing.
Toning the entire body, salsa is not only a fun way to get into shape but also a great way to relax and de-stress. “Salsa is really good exercise in the same way as people go for a walk or go jogging, you can dance for just half an hour and it is still just as tiring”, he says. Describing salsa as a great medium for people to step out of their comfort zone, Jaff’s classes encourage people to work together as a unit. “It doesn’t matter what their jobs are, what position they hold, where they are from, we become like a family through salsa”, he says.
Pushing himself to become better, Jaff says he sees himself stepping up in salsa and has no plans to stop. By learning the best choreography and giving it all he’s got, Jaff says he aspires to perform on stage in the near future and to reach his goal of being recognised as a professional salsa dancer.
For more information:
(00973) 3311 0266
Salsa With Jaff (Bahrain)
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