At House of Eights dance studio, Abady Alzahrani wants Halifax to rediscover its love of dance.
Alzahrani, the founder and director of House of Eights, is this week’s midweek mugging recipient.
“We didn’t have a space for adults to dance,” he said. “It was a lot of kid’s classes and studios or universities, unless you went to New York or Toronto. So I wanted to create a chill, safe, welcoming space for dancers to come for fun, or for a workout, or take serious dance training.”
Located at 1717 Barrington St., House of Eights offers drop-in dance classes across a range of styles, including hip-hop, heels, jazz, musical theatre, and dancehall.
Alzahrani had been teaching dance across Halifax for years while also working an office job before decided he was ready to start something of his own.
“There just came a point when I was teaching so much dance and going full tilt into my marketing career, and one of them had to give—and dance definitely wasn’t going to give,” he said.
While most dance classes are structured to cover a span of weeks and build to a final performance, Alzahrani designed House of Eights to allow students to jump in at any time, on any day, as each class offers a new routine.
“It’s structured for the very busy student or adult...you can go there to dance whenever you feel like dancing,” he said.
Class sizes are anywhere between half a dozen students up to 40, he said, depending on the time of day and type of class. The most popular classes tend to be hip-hop or Korean pop.
“K-pop has been one that blew up very quickly,” he said. “A lot of K-pop bands and groups have a fandom behind them.”
House of Eights welcomes both new and experienced dancers, as it offers classes for varying skill levels.
“I feel like our advanced classes have been growing a lot more recently, and that’s because people take the beginners classes and slowly move up and feel more confidence to take advanced classes,” Alzahrani said.
Along with introducing Halifax to dance, Alzahrani also wants to show the dance world how much talent Halifax has to offer. Every couple of months, he invites a dance professional to teach a few classes. The most recent guest instructor was Jake Kodish, a dancer who has performed with stars including Taylor Swift and Justin Beiber.
“Long term, I would just like to provide as many opportunities for our dance community as possible, because that’s kind of the goal, putting Halifax on the map and having our dancers be recognized,” Alzahrani said.
Already, House of Eights is making dancers think twice about Halifax. Alzahrani has heard from multiple people saying they decided to move to the city once they heard it had a studio for them to dance in.
“That’s not a thing I had planned for, but there’s been a little bit of a mini-migration coming back here, which is great to see," he said. "Because I know Halifax is an amazing, growing city."
Alzahrani said he strives to provide a welcoming and judgement-free space for all dancers to practice and grow. He favourite thing about the studio is seeing the impact that it has on those who attend classes.
“A lot of them think of the studio as their second home,” he said. “It’s the place where they can hang out with friends, and feel very confident and comfortable in their skin.”