Just Dance, located on Abdelkrim Al Khattabi in Marrakech, is a haven for those passionate about dance or for those who just need an outlet to express themselves.
The owner, Kenza Mouahidi, has tried to create the space to be as welcoming and intimate as possible. Walking into her pièce de résistance, you will find the walls adorned with newspaper clippings and photographs of her students dating back to when Kenza first began teaching. In her office, she adds a touch of sentimentality by proudly hanging her very first ballet shoes center-stage on the wall.
The building itself houses an office, a living space, a small kitchen with healthy snack shop, a bathroom and changing area, a waiting room and two adjacent studios upstairs.
Kenza teaches in age groups of 3-6 years, 7-10 years, 11-15 years, Teenagers 15+ and adults. “The goal of the kids’ classes is fun, passion and expression.”
For three years now, since the studio opened, the participants of the classes have performed annual shows in Gueliz’s Le Colisée. These performances are a chance for the kids to showcase what they’ve been working on and to perform in front of an audience
“The kids are totally in control here. They choose the music, they choose the space and if they don’t like a piece of choreography we workshop it together. This is not a place where they have to obey another parent. I want all of the students to feel acceptance, happiness and togetherness. We are not like other dance schools that pressure the kids and make an environment rife for competition.”
Take a look at just some of the styles of dance Kenza teaches:
It’s not all about the kids though. Just Dance regularly has professional dancers come from across the world to teach their areas of expertise to adults. Take for example, international dancer and performing artist Vinatha Sreeramkumar, who came to host a Bollywood dance workshop. “We set our schedules Monday through to Friday but like to leave the weekends open for workshops, or for people who want to rent out the space.”
Kenza herself is certified as an ashtanga vinyasa yoga instructor and a zumba instructor. She has also collected certifications for bellydancing in Istanbul, dance formation in France and bollywood dance in Amsterdam. “When I teach bellydance, I want the women to know that it’s not some kind of caberet. It’s about femininity, rhythm, movement and confidence. That’s the most important thing for me, I just want women to love their bodies because we are all beautiful!”
Los Angeles has also seen glimmers of Kenza’s studio too. Choreographer and singer Lexy Panterra featured the studio space in her music video “Downtown” (which actually features one of Kenza’s dance teachers!)
How Was Just Dance Born?
Kenza started ballet when she was just 3 years old. As a young girl she danced every day, but when her passion for the art started to turn into a passion for a career in the art, her family urged her to pursue something more “sensible” which led her to studying accounting in Paris.
Whilst there, Kenza started to wistfully miss her home in Marrakech and would practise belly-dance and oriental dance as much as she could as an outlet.
When she realised that the up-tight financial world of accounting wasn’t for her, Kenza began to express herself in other creative ways like interning for luxury brands in Paris.
In 2009, Kenza finally came back to Marrakech where she endlessly sent CVs outlining her accounting degree to luxury hotels and brands. It wasn’t until the owner of Targa’s Dance Attitude, offered her a job as a dance teacher that Kenza began to feel passionate about what she was doing again.
From there things began to fall into place. In 2012 one of Kenza’s friends opened Gueliz’s Art Academy and asked her to join as a partner. Not long after that, Lotus requested that their OhLaLa! show be choreographed at the studio by the girls. Despite this quick success, Kenza decided to leave after a year due to the partners’ different visions.
Having a ton of dance experience, teaching experience and a whole accounting degree behind her, Kenza took the dive and set up Just Dance in 2013, and it’s been here ever since. Want to hear a bit more from Kenza? Watch an interview she did with Global Radio here.
Quick Fire Question Round
MC: Having grown so much since 2013, what is your vision for the next few years?
KM: I don’t want this to be a factory. I want to keep it intimate so that I know everyone and they know me, so we create relationships and use the space for dance.
MC: What’s your favourite style of dance to do, and to teach?
KM: To do, bellydance. To teach, ballet to kids.
MC: Do you have any advice to young boys and girls in Marrakech who might be considering a career in dance or the arts in general?
KM: Don’t stop working. Never give up. Be passionate and most of all stay humble.
MC: Do you think a lot has changed since you were young in terms of how accessible dance is in this city?
KM: Definitely. When I was young we had no studios or online mediums, I would dance in my bathroom! But now, even the most conservative parents are coming to me after watching Frozen and saying “I want my daughter to do that!” – they don’t even know what it’s called! – I’m like; “you mean ballet?”
MC: What problems do you face running a dance studio in Marrakech?
KM: What tends to happen with the adults is that they look at these courses as a chance to lose weight and only that. And as usual with resolutions, people stop after the first few classes. If you want to just do Zumba to lose weight, go to the gym. What I do here is completely different. It’s about developing technique and progressing. It’s about dancing.
MC: What’s the Just Dance Motto?
KM: Happiness, Confidence, Love and Passion.
With some timetable slots free for adults, Kenza wants to create new classes teaching specific types of dance. Want to learn street or contemporary dance, or even something else? Let us know in the comments below!