Abd Al Hadi Abunahleh – The Dancing King

“My own movement is simple and primitive, yet, the construction of the pieces as a whole, feels like a ceremony or a ritual.”

Abd Al Hadi Abunahleh – The Dancing King

Jordanian Abd Al Hadi Abunahleh has dance in his blood, but bringing his talent to the world wasn’t quite so straight forward.

Abd Al Hadi Abunahleh

In a society where dancing and choreography are not stereotypical professions for a man, how did you come to realise this was a passion?

The reasons I chose to dance are always unfolding themselves to me. When I was a kid I was extremely observant, with so many questions about people’s behaviours and movements. This intuitive observation soon started to operate on a larger scale, and I started contemplating people moving in groups and masses. At some point, I knew that I needed to start moving in order for me to understand movement and its relation to the human body. After years of practice I came to a realisation that the more I dance, the stranger my body feels to me, and this is when I started inventing my own movement system, which is simply rediscovering my own voice.

How would you describe your style?

My own movement is simple and primitive, yet, the construction of the pieces as a whole, feels like a ceremony or a ritual. This is why I describe myself as a ceremony inventor.

How did you make your passion for dance into a reality?

Like any other artist, I was starving and still trying to create a comfortable environment and conditions – but this is very difficult in Amman, especially when it comes to dance. Getting involved and collaborating with other artists from different disciplines offered me a huge support system. I was also privileged and hardworking enough to be invited to more than 30 different countries as an artist and a choreographer where I was able to collaborate with other artists, galleries and institutions. This gave me the opportunity to be present in multiple geographic areas.

Tell us more about Studio 8 and the idea behind it.

With the non-existant infrastructure of choreographic work and contemporary dance in Jordan, we wanted to create a platform that functions as an ecosystem to support dance, from teaching and audience building to exchange and presentation.

Abd Al Hadi Abunahleh

What’s your favourite type of music to dance to?

I appreciate any type of music. But when it comes to my creative process, I play experimental and soundscapes – where rhythm and time are not defined – in order for me to move freely without having my movement choices affected by the structure of the sound.

What feelings are heightened in you when you are dancing?

It’s case by case, to be honest. With each honest choreographic work, it seems like I’m possessed with a certain energy, character and feelings. The experience of creating and dancing my latest work, Crossing, for example, is totally different from one of my other works named Wujud w Hodoud. But there is one feeling in common whenever I dance: I feel like I’m detaching from the physical world and ascending space and time. It’s as if I dance in my sleep; when I stop dancing, I wake up with flashbacks flooding into my brain as well as so many question marks and a massive space for contemplation.

Abd Al Hadi Abunahleh

What made you incorporate painting and dancing into some of your projects?

As I started to practice contemporary dance, my friends were all artists from different backgrounds, too. This inspired my work. I also see similarities between different art forms and believe that art forms can be very similar when it comes to the process – but different in results. When harmoniously merged together, these results – installation art, sound design and painting, for example – create magic.

How can we encourage more men to dance?

I feel that society in general should be more exposed to dance, and be more open to the idea of contemporary dance and movement – not only in the theatre and commercial sector.

Abd Al Hadi Abunahleh

What does love mean to you?

Love is simple, and is within all and everything. I can find it in the most complex and the most simple little things.

Other than your profession, what do you love to do?

As an anthropologist, I like to travel and explore other authentic, traditional and native cultures. I love diversity in food, myth, oral culture, landscapes, arts, architecture, food and languages.

If you were to paint a picture of your happy place, what would it look like?

A source of light.


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