ISLAMABAD: Murtajiz Ali will be eight this summer but he is already ahead of his years, especially when it comes to hip-hop dance. The to-be fifth grader is a top scorer, a football buff and a prefect at the Global System of Integrated Studies.
“I’ve always been fond of dancing. My friends encouraged me to take classes and practise,” said Murtajiz, who comes across as shy and introverted at first but when in his element, he pulls off some funky stunts.
Interestingly, Murtajiz has learnt most of his dance steps from watching YouTube videos. Born with double-jointed bones, he is naturally flexible and is able to bend and fold his limbs in circular movements to an extended degree. This gives him an advantage of being able to perform the rare bone-breaking technique in the hip hop dance, which only two other people can perform in the country.
After having attended about two weeks of hip hop dance classes at Kuch Khaas in spring, he performed at a dance fusion event at the same venue recently.
“He has raw talent,” said Zain Sadiq, Murtajiz’s instructor who himself learnt the dance form during his bachelor’s programme at the Glasgow School of Art. “People tend to think that it is easy to copy the steps from dance videos, but it is actually the hardest thing to do. I can’t copy the steps and so I make my own but Murtajiz is good at picking up even the seemingly tricky moves.”
Sadiq said it had taken him about seven months to learn the technique and another five years to put it together but Murtajiz learnt it within two months. “He is an advanced hip hop dancer and I want to polish and control his steps instead of teaching him from scratch. He loves to improvise when we are practising together.”
Trained in the medium professionally, Sadiq has performed with celebrities such as Snoop Dogg, Lady Gaga, Jay Sean and Juggy D in the United Kingdom. However, he said he never had a proper platform when he started out as the only international student from the country who was learning the dance form at his campus. He pointed out that Murtajiz was lucky enough to have a supportive family.
“He is an all-rounder,” said Dr Saba, Murtajiz’s mother, adding that he does not give his parents a reason to complain and that they are encouraging of his passion in an age when his peers are usually more enthusiastic about video games and animations.
“We’ve given him the confidence that it is good to be enthusiastic about whatever you are skilled at, instead of hiding it. He is also quite conscious about his appearance and prides himself over the David Beckham hairstyle that he got a while back,” she said.
Murtajiz is the third among four siblings and wants to become a scientist when he grows up. He considers the footballer Cristiano Ronaldo his role model. Moreover, he enjoys sketching and painting in his free time.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 31st, 2014.