The Norwegian dancing sensation Quick Style, that went viral earlier this year when they performed at a wedding to a hit Bollywood number, set the stage on fire on Thursday night at the Yas Marina Circuit, performing with eight-time Grammy award winner Usher.
"It was an epic moment. We had so much fun on stage with Usher ," said Suleman Malik, one of the co-founders of the group, speaking to City Times. "During rehearsals a few hours before the show, we were able to connect with him as an artist and that really translated into the energy between us on stage."
Abu Dhabi is the latest in the list of cities that the group has been performing at. “We are living the dream,” said Nasir Sirikhan, another co-founder of the group. “We have been traveling the world and doing what we love the most.”
Nasir along with his high school best friends, twins Bilal and Suleman Malik, started Quick Style 13 years ago. Since then, the group has grown leaps and bounds, with over 400 students learning dance at their studio in Oslo.
Unity in diversity
When CT arrived at the 25hour hotel to catch up with the group, seven of its members including Bilal, Suleman, Nasir, Yasin, Dilen, Rafa and David as well as their manager Usman are sitting around a table in the lobby with their laptops. While some are checking flights, others are pursuing prospective business deals. They chat away in Norwegian about plans and meetings. Ever since their dance at Suleman’s wedding went viral, with even YouTube itself commenting on it, the group has been at its busiest.
With members hailing from 12 countries and dancing to a selection of songs from around the world, Quick Style has become the poster boys for unity in diversity. Their video received a lot of praise for their perfect steps to popular Bollywood songs.
As the others continue working, Bilal, Nasir, Suleman and Yasin extracted themselves from the chaos. In a candid chat, the group talked about everything from their move to Dubai, the hard work they have poured into dance and the bond they share.
'Dubai values hard work'
The group have often performed in Dubai but the first time they came after their video went viral was at the Coke Studio concert in October. At the time, Bilal Malik had shared plans to set up a base here and start a dance school.
Now, at least part of the group is hoping to be based out of the city. “There are a number of reasons why we love Dubai,” said Nasir. “One is that Dubai really values hard work. This city has given us a lot of love, appreciation and recognition. It doesn’t matter where you are from, this city rewards you when you work hard. That is great encouragement to keep living here.”
The central location of Dubai also appeals to the group. “We travel a lot for our shows and getting to places is so much easier from Dubai,” said Bilal. “There are so many flights from here and it is shorter distance to most places. Also, we love how this city makes us feel like we are home. In Oslo, there are people from various countries, and we grew up with all of them. It was like a melting pot of cultures. Dubai is just like that. Every time we look around, there are so many different nationalities and all of them are so friendly towards each other. We love that vibe.”
Suleman admitted that sometimes the fame they have achieved blows his mind. “We have done so many perfectly choregraphed numbers,” he said. “We have choreographed for BTS and won Norway’s Got Talent. But the video that took us viral was this last-minute routine that we put together. But we think we know why it amassed over half a billion views across all social media. It was the brotherly bond that came through and appealed to everyone.”
A bond that transcends time
However, that brotherly vibe did not happen overnight. From the first student to now, it has been a long and arduous journey for the group. “I was their first student,” said Yasin. “I was playing ice hockey at the time and wasn’t sure if dance was for me. But I was a big fan of Quick Style, so I entered a competition they were participating in and won. That gave me a huge boost of confidence. So, when they started a school, I was the first one to sign up.”
“At the time, he was tiny, and I had to bend down to reach his height,” recalled Nasir. This is hard to believe today, looking at the lanky Moroccan origin dancer who towers over everyone. “Over the last 13 years, we have all grown up together,” he said. “We know each other’s families, we celebrate each other’s festivals, we really are like brothers. The camaraderie between us isn’t a show. We truly understand and know each other.”
Yasin confessed that the journey wasn’t easy and was often fraught with doubt. “My dream was to quit my job and become a full-time dancer,” he said. “But it just wasn’t happening. We had been working for more than a decade. There were times when I thought of quitting. Now, after the viral video, I finally quit my job and took up dance full time. It was the best feeling in the world.”
Suleman said that there were many who were with them during the journey but who called it quits. “A lot of people didn’t have the patience to stick around for the long haul,” he said. “Many of them quit. The group that you see today, they are the people who stuck around and poured in their hard work. We all worked really hard to put food on our table.”
Dealing with hate
Despite all the love they are getting, the group admitted that they have received some amount of hate as well. “If you don’t get hate, that means you are not doing good enough,” said Nasir. “We are good at identifying what is hate and what is critique. Critique has helped us refine our craft much better. We also know when people hate just to hate. We don’t focus on those people. We want to focus on the love.”
The group has had fan accounts springing up all around the world. “That is the most amazing feeling in the world,” said Bilal. “We all know how hard we worked and how many hours we spent on our dance. Yet, when the recognition came, the timing of it was so unexpected. But to us, that is also what makes it so beautiful. We did a dance with love from our heart and people really accepted it. We are grateful.”
“I had always told the others that all it would take was one video to change our lives,” said Yasin. “And that one video came now. It happened at the right time, with the right people and I am so thankful for it.”
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