Born into a Lahore–based family of musicians, Shehzad Hussain never wanted to follow his forefathers’ footsteps. Resisting the pressure to conform, he became an outcast to pursue his heart’s desire: a career in dancing, which is considered an even more unstable career choice than music.
Fascinated by the beat of the tabla and the sound of the payal, Shehzad started dancing as a child and in the past 12 years of his life, he has achieved more than he could have imagined.
“I was always an outcast. My father was a leading composer and wanted me to sing, but I found dance to be a stronger form of expression and started to take classical dance lessons. Today I specialise in hip–hop dancing, which is quite a shift,” Shehzad told The Express Tribune.
Shehzad, popularly known as Shezi, came to Karachi seven-years-ago when Indus TV started to employ dancers and, along with his friend Sonu Dangerous, he was introduced to a new city full of opportunities.
Shehzad’s initial breakthrough was during the first Indus Music Awards where he made his debut as a dancer.
“That was a much better time for dancers and choreographers. There was less competition, as the Indus Music Awards were the first of their kind. After that, the industry was flooded with all sorts of award shows and for some of them, choreographers were even called from other countries,” said Shezi.
After facing perpetual rejection and being under paid, Shezi decided to bring together a number of like-minded individuals from Lahore and Karachi and formed his own dance group, O2.
“I had performed at a couple of places and since I was from a family of musicians, I had a decent understanding of music. I decided to form a group of my own, which would choreograph as well.”
After being featured in a couple of music videos and helping out senior choreographers, Shezi got the biggest break of his life. He danced in two major theatrical productions, Chicago and Conversations.
“The 15-day tour to Lahore where I performed alongside senior artists was more than just an achievement for me, as I was a poor street kid from Lahore who had never thought of performing in such an ensemble production” said Shezi.
However, after performing at the Lux Style Awards, MTV Style Awards and Hum TV Awards held in Dubai, to name a few, Shezi still rates his performance in Conversations as the most important.
“The choreographer that I respect the most and from whom I have learnt a lot, is Joshinder Chaggar. The way she directed us in Conversations, the command she has over her craft and her temper, are all rarely found in the present music industry,” said Shezi.
Apart from dancing and directing dance moves, Shezi has also taken up the role of a teacher. He teaches hip–hop dance at the ActOne Centre for Arts and Wellness, and some of his students have also performed internationally.
“I choreographed dances for some students of the Karachi Grammar school. They went to Singapore to perform and ended up beating an Indian team in the competition,” said Shezi.
Despite all the success stories, the proudest moment of his life was in a bar in Dubai, where he and his friends beat an Indian and African dance group in a freestyle dance competition.
“After our performance people thought we were Indians and our nationality came as a surprise for them,” said Shezi.
Shezi eventually wants to make a music album so that he can make his father’s dream come true as well, but that doesn’t seem possible right now.
“There are thousands of choreographers who are much better than I am, but have had to open up small corner shops because they cannot find work. I hope nothing like that happens to me,” he said.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 29th, 2011.
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