20 questions (pandemic edition) with Abady Alzahrani

This week we check in with choreographer, dancer, and the owner of Halifax drop-in dance studio House of Eights, Abady Alzahrani.

Abady Alzahrani. Photo by Stoo Metz.
Abady Alzahrani. Photo by Stoo Metz.

During this time of social distancing and dark venues, Halifax Presents continues to check-in with members of our arts community to find out how they are staying creative and managing during the pandemic.

This week we check in with choreographer, dancer, and the owner of Halifax’s House of Eights drop-in dance studio, Abady Alzahrani.

1. How are you staying creative during the pandemic?

Taking online dance classes from people I normally would never be able to dance with. It’s a great way to train while still being home.

2. What’s the one thing getting you through?

Disney+.

3. How are you staying in contact with family and friends who are not in your bubble?

Very long phone calls and Facetime dates are a lifesaver!

4. What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned so far during the pandemic?

Everything passes with time.

5. What do you feel the most grateful for right now?

My partner and puppy. We live in roughly 400 square feet together, but somehow the entire lockdown and quarantine period together was way smoother and easier than expected and was a great opportunity to spend time together after a very busy first year with the new studio.

6. What is something you are doing now that you don’t normally?

Watch more movies and TV shows. I rarely have time to just chill and go through my “to-watch” list, so it’s a refreshing break.

7. What skill have you developed since the pandemic started?

Baking. Still not great, but have learned a lot during the pandemic.

8. What have you missed the most?

Connecting with people in person. Technology has been great, but nothing compares to sharing energy with people in person.

9. Your #1 pandemic survival tip.

Be okay with not being productive and taking time for yourself. I’m really bad at chilling and taking time for myself, and this pandemic has forced me to do so, and it was a great wake-up call. It’s okay not to make it through your to-do list some days (or weeks). Self-care is important (I’m still bad at it, but we’re all just doing our best).

10. Your biggest indulgence since the pandemic started.

Sylvanas from @dolcehalifax.

11. What have you stockpiled?

Flour.

12. What have you been reading?

Red, White, and Royal Blue. The cheesiest, but hilarious.

13. What have you been watching?

Highlights during the past few months have been Bombshell, Drag Race Canada, and Unwell.

14. What have you been listening to?

A lot Elton John and Celine Dion, with a sprinkle of Meghan Thee Stallion. Also, always listening to classic Disney songs because they never get old.

15. What are you doing for exercise?

Online dance classes were great during the lockdown, but now I’m thankful to be able to dance at my studio all the time again.

16. The one thing you haven’t been able to live without?

Halloumi cheese.

17. Do-it-yourself haircut or the natural look?

Did the do-it-yourself haircut once during quarantine. Never trying that again.

18. Night owl or early riser?

Early riser.

19. Will you be the first out as restrictions are gradually lifted or taking a wait-and-see attitude?

First out. But with a mask.

20. What’s the first thing you will do when this is all over?

Support as many local businesses as I can. We all need all the help we can get! And hug my bubble besties!

Meet Abady Alzahrani

Abady is a choreographer and dancer based in Halifax, NS, and is the owner of House of Eights, a drop-in dance studio in downtown Halifax.

He grew up in Saudi Arabia and the Philippines and moved to Canada in 2008 to attend Dalhousie University, which is where he first fell in love with dance and began his training. While he primarily trained in Halifax, he has danced under the instruction of some of the top choreographers in Los Angeles and New York, including Yanis Marshall, Blake McGrath, Janelle Ginestra, Keenan Cooks, & Laure Courtellemont.

In Halifax, Abady has been teaching dance for over seven years, with a primary focus on Jazz Funk. He has coached and choreographed for Dalhousie’s Competitive Black & Gold Dance Team, and Maritime Dance’s competitive hip hop team and elite performance groups. His choreography has been featured at TedxHalifax, Halifax Pride Festival, Black & Gold Showcase, Halifax Fuse Festival, DalDance’s Annual Show, and various dance competitions throughout Atlantic Canada.

More than anything, Abady’s goal is to grow the dance community in Atlantic Canada and create a safer space for people to be themselves, which includes experienced dancers who want to keep up their training as well as total beginners who want to try something new.