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  Life   More Features  27 May 2017  Breaking stereotype

Breaking stereotype

Published : May 27, 2017, 12:14 am IST
Updated : May 27, 2017, 12:14 am IST

Coming from an orthodox family, Eshan Hilal had to put up a strong fight to pursue his passion for belly dancing.

A passion for dance: Eshan Hilal
 A passion for dance: Eshan Hilal

“Dance is not gender specific. It is a form of expressing your feeling, so how can anyone say that a certain dance form is restricted only to women?” asks Eshan Hilal, a Delhi-based male belly dancer, who is breaking stereotypes with his graceful belly moves. Though initially Eshan did not take belly dancing seriously, it has now become his solace.

“I am a trained Kathak dancer and didn’t feel quite comfortable with the idea of doing belly dancing initially. It was only when I joined Mahek Malik’s group that I realised it is as much for a man as for a woman. Many think that belly dance is an obscene dance, but I find no vulgarity in it. I love being on the stage as my dance helps me to connect with God,” he says.

Belly dancing is a middle-eastern folk dance, which emphasises on graceful torso movements. Talking about the dance form, the 24-year-old says, “Many say that it was inspired by the Indian folk dance Kalbelia, and has travelled through the silk route to the middle-east. The name of the dance actually is Raqs Sharqi, and like our Indian classical dances, this also has many forms.”

However, it was not an easy journey for Eshan. Coming from an orthodox Muslim family, who believe that men are not supposed to dance, Eshan had to put up a strong fight to pursue his passion for dance. “I was 10 when I first told my parents that I want to learn Kathak. My mother slapped and abused me. I started bunking my tuitions to learn Kathak. My younger brother doesn’t talk to me because he is ashamed of me. I have tried to explain to them that dancing is my life, but they feel that I am abnormal and do not behave like a man,” Eshan shares.

He now lives alone in Delhi and performs at various private parties, weddings and other events. He also takes classes for belly dancing and is in talks with a few entertainment channels to do reality shows.

A fashion designer by profession, Eshan designs all his costumes, and feels that clothes don’t define anyone’s gender. “Heels were originally designed for men. Similarly, skirts and jewelleries were worn by men in ancient India. When girls wear men’s clothing and are never questioned, then why aren’t men allowed to do that?” questions Eshan.

Like most kids of his generation, Eshan’s inspiration is Madhuri Dixit. Eshan also loves to colour and paint whenever he gets the time. He makes sure that he takes time out of his busy schedule for his friends and engages in social activities as well. “We have just one life, and I feel it’s important that we do what we want to and not what the world wants us to,” Eshan says.

Tags: madhuri dixit, belly dancer, folk dance