In 2009, Rana Madanat became one of the first female Jordanian Hip Hop dancers that pursued dance as a career. She has worked at Tempo Dance Academy as a dancer, instructor, and choreographer where she teaches various dance courses & organizes dance performances in Amman. Rana continues to be influential in the Jordanian dance community and has focused her career on empowering women & marginalized groups through dance, despite societal setbacks.
Being one of the first female hip hop dancers in Jordan has been professionally and personally challenging. As a woman generally I am limited with my choices and our society places so many expectations on women, which makes pursuing dance a continuous struggle. I was not privileged in my dance education due to the lack of accessibility of dance instruction. However, I have turned these challenges into self-motivation to continue breaking barriers within my society.
In order to make change in my society, I have worked at Tempo Dance Academy for over 10 years where I hold various dance courses in Amman including Hip Hop, Belly Dancing, Vogue, Experimental Contemporary Hip Hop, and Expressive Dance Movement.. In addition, I have worked in Zaatari Refugee Camp and Schneller Camp where I gave dance instructions and choreography that empowered women to express their artistic side. This was particularly challenging since there was a fear of body movement as a form of self-expression by the girls and women in the camp. My experiences working in the camps taught me the importance of the sociological aspects of dance and the power it has to develop personal growth.
There are two types of people; they either admire dancing & want to pursue it or they stigmatize what I do & dance in general.The people that love dance are very supportive and encourage me to keep going further in my career and follow my work with kids, teenagers and adults on my social media platform with positive feedback.but a few incidents took place where I got negative feedback due to the “controversy” of being a female Hip Hop dancer in Jordan. I received backlash by some publications that posted articles about how dance is destructive to social norms but that motivated me in order to help change people’s mindset and help in spreading the beauty of the performing arts.
Some people do not take dance as a career seriously. When I tell people that I am a dancer, instructor, and choreographer, they ask, ‘But what do you do as a full time career?’. They cannot understand that dance is not all fun & games; it is work at the end of the day and is very challenging. I was very taken aback when a girl told me, “ you should stop dancing and choose a better career “. I think people connect dancing to social status, so if you are not a doctor or engineer then your work is not as valuable as other professions. Our society does not find dance to be an acceptable career.
Belly dancing is a very popular dance form amongst females. It is present at female dance classes & parties where women are able to let loose. The next popular form is ballet, followed by social latin dance and then Hip Hop. In 2008-2017, we had a lot of Hip Hop and break dancers in Jordan, but many of them changed careers or left the country to pursue their dance dreams elsewhere since dance is unavailable and stigmatized here. In Jordan, dancers are not taken seriously career-wise, so many talented dancers went to the US and Europe. I am now trying to build a new generation of Jordanian dancers with my students.
Being one of a few female dancers in Jordan puts a lot of pressure on being a role model for future generations. That is why I want to inspire the future generation of Jordanians to recognize that dance can be a legitimate career choice. I particularly want to encourage young females to have the freedom of choice in having the ability to take dance classes and follow their passions. I have witnessed a change in girl’s self-confidence, personal empowerment, motivation, and purpose through dance.
Dance is an important way of expressing one’s self through body movement. Through my career, I have learned that dance gives freedom to marginalized individuals including females, and those affected by war. For this reason, I really wish that dance in the Middle East would be more popular and more respected.
In Jordan, dance is not taught in schools or universities. It saddens me that in 2020 we still consider dancing a taboo or something only for the elite community. Therefore, I strive to influence women and marginalized groups positively through encouraging them to follow their passions and motivate talented students to continue dance as a career, despite the societal setbacks and challenges. Dance has the power to influence women and marginalized individuals to become leaders in whichever field they decide to pursue in their careers.
A special thanks to Amr Abu Eitah for his videography and dope editing skills.