A male belly dancer's celebration of the feminine


Meet belly dancer Eshan Hilal who celebrates his life using dance

There is something different about belly dancer Eshan Hilal — he is a man overflowing with joy and has a dance in every step he takes. Dressed in a palazzo and sequinned shirt, Eshan walks into the Nritarutya Dance Company in Jayanagar 5th Block.

He is participating in the ‘Dance N More’ series, an initiative by associate director of Nritarutya Dance Company, Madhuri Upadhya.

Eshan Hilal, said to be our country’s first male belly dancer, says he was always withdrawn and often heartbroken, and that it was belly dancing that taught him to accept himself.

“I felt I was different ever since I was child. I have been called spineless and told I was not good enough for society or even my gender. I felt left out. The worst part was I could not figure out what was wrong with me and always wondered what I could do to be accepted.”

Soon he took solace in dance. The young dancer learnt Kathak (Lucknow Gharana) and started performing, yet, his he says his soul was perpetually “downcast”.

Until, he discovered belly dancing.

“I would watch a lot of male belly dancers and realised what they did was pure art. These were men, who had accepted their feminine qualities and were showing off their skills on stage using this art form,” says Eshan, who was also one of the contestants of the famous reality show Dance Plus 3 on Star Plus and has also been a speaker at TEDx.

Having been trained in Kathak, he also realised that the rhythms were “similar to belly dancing and so was some of the footwork.”

Soon Eshan took to belly dancing as a fish does to water and the first lesson he learnt was he “did not need Arabic music, a belly belt or jingles at my waist to dance -- but sheer self acceptance. Since then, my soul, that was so downcast started celebrating life — my life,” smiles the young dancer.

In 2013, he started performing on stage and till date has travelled far and wide as a belly dancer, not just showing off his moves, but “telling all – men and women – to love their bodies just as they are. Belly dancing taught me that there is no perfect body, size or colour, but is all about letting yourself go and celebrating who and what you are. It teaches you that you are beautiful the way you are and has helped me over come my hurdles, believe in myself and accept my femininity.”

According to him the most painful moment in his life was when he was called feminine in a derogatory manner. “However, belly dancing celebrates that feminine side. It is not just a form that entertains men but is something beyond that. Today, I feel honoured when I am called feminine as I have never seen a weak woman anywhere. They are strong and powerful and so I tell them, to aspire to be the woman of the house and not the man.”

So, how does society view at him now? “Oh, the same people who called me names 10 years ago, now invite me as an artiste.”

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Printable version | Jan 26, 2020 4:16:26 AM |

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