International choreographer Rudolf Ouea sets the rhythm for hip-hop in Dubai
How do you marry passion and profession? They say only a handful of people find out how to do this in a lifetime. Luckily, Rudolf Ouea, an accomplished dance teacher and now CEO of Hip-Hop Cardio, a promising events company, figured out the the formula. Find out how he transitioned from working in finance and dancing on the side to being the master of his own time.
Why did you come to Dubai? Was it just for leisure?
I came to Dubai to set up my events company. I think it’s the perfect outlet for my professional experience and my passion. I was born and raised in Paris. There I worked in finance and as a dance teacher at the same time. I’ve been dancing hip-hop for 15 years now. I travelled around the world to share my passion for hip-hop, exchange dance through dance classes, workshops, and competitions.
There’s so many other cities in the world where you can make your mark, but what made you choose UAE?
For me, UAE has a lot of potential. Everything about it is new. It’s a new environment. There’s so much to do here, so much to explore. I was excited to begin working because it’s different here. Unlike Paris, here in UAE you can develop so much more things.
What can you say about the market here?
Like I said, there’s a lot of work to be done. I’ve been around the world, I’ve experienced different stuff. I like to support various types of causes. I believe it’s time to bring those things here in UAE and let the market experience it themselves.
When did you start getting into hip-hop?
Well obviously when I was younger I would try to dance like the icons: Prince and Michael Jackson. They inspired me to dance. When I started doing hip-hop 15 years ago, people in Paris became interested in dancing, hip-hop in particular, because of the dance movies and music videos that came out. Usher, Missy Elliott, B2K, Justin Timberlake–they all influenced us one way or another. The movie “U Got Served” in particular inspired a lot of people my age to pursue dancing back then. They were so popular in the early 2000s. I then moved to New York to develop my knowledge because it’s the birthplace of hip-hop. I came back to Paris eventually but there’s a lot of competition. You’d have to bring something new, you need to bring something different. On the other hand, hiphop is still new in here in UAE. Other dancers usually just copy moves from Youtube, that’s why I’m bringing something different.
What sets you apart from other dancer-choreographers?
You have to deal with the cultural part. For example, when I’m dancing I am influenced by my African roots that I trace back to Cameroon. Sure, I’m doing hip-hop but I don’t dance like anyone else; it’s my own style. People are like, “oh, you’re different. You’re not from here.” Also, I’ve been in this environment for quite some time. I’m bound to develop a style that’s unique to me.
I also like to be someone that connects countries in some way. I connect Cameroon, France, and UAE through dance because of what I do.
How did you decide that it’s a good idea to mix hip-hop and fitness together?
I want to make it accessible to everyone. I saw a lot of people interested in hip-hop here in Dubai, but it is a bit complicated so they just watch in the sidelines. But I want to encourage them to start learning and participating in it. That’s why I decided to combine them, to make hip-hop simpler in cardio way. Hip-hop Cardio classes were born.People still learn something new and have fun at the same time.
How did you manage to fuse together your hip-hop cardio classes and events management business?
I wanted to organize a lifestyle in Dubai in which people who want to take dance classes can join the events. They meet new people through dance, go home to take a shower, then come back and meet more people during the events. It’s a win-win for them. Nice, fit body and new friends. Double win for me, too.
Do you have a gym where you hold your classes?
We rent spaces where more people can come. On Thursday nights we hold classes in a gym in Al Quoz; on Monday nights we’re at Business Bay. We try to find different locations because people in Dubai are very busy. They’re not available all the time so we have to adjust. We bring hip-hop cardio to them.
Who are your usual clients?
Back in Paris, I used to work with teenagers. Here in Dubai, it’s a whole different dance floor. Now my clients range from 18 to 40 years old, mostly women.
We’re curious–how do you find your clients?
It was quite easy in the beginning. I would go to a nightclub and just start dancing and people will already come to me. They’d ask what I do and I give them my card. When you start to hold
classes or people saw you perform in different places, they ask if you teach somewhere else or if you give private classes.If people see you as a teacher, they will look you up on Google or Youtube to see who you are and how you dance on your videos. They then contact you if they’re interested. This year I use the events I organize to network. I manage a meet-up group called “Hip-hop Dance in Dubai” where you can find a lot of individuals who are interested in the topic.
We all have the impression that working in events in a glamorous job, because it’s always exciting. But how is it really?
It’s exciting, yes. But I also handle hiring performers, singers, DJs, and other artists. I always have to know what’s happening in the city, who’s performing. Clients will always ask what’s hot in town. I need to know not just my events, but also other happenings. I need to stay connected. I have a team of artists, others based here, and some more in Paris. The company allows them to crossover from Dubai to Paris and back. There’s a side to the business that’s very superficial, but people have to keep their minds open to new and authentic entertainment.
In terms of finances and investments, I studied finance and I used to work for years in a bank, so I know what I’m talking about. Although, what’s different is this time it’s not other people’s money that I’m handling; now it’s my own money.
Where do you see your business in 5 to 10 years?
I have a feeling it’s going to big. The market is good here as it has proven to be for the past year and I want to expand to other countries as well. Last year I was in Beijing to hold an event even though I’m based in Dubai. Dubai is the perfect platform to start if you want to go international because here is where monumental things happen daily.
Would you recommend Dubai to someone who wants to start a whole new business or project?
There’s so many opportunities in Dubai if you want to start something because everything is here. It’s comfortable and secure. People are used to this kind of lifestyle where it’s a mix of everything and it opens a lot of opportunities to make something big.
On a more personal note, what is your general feeling about UAE?
Everything is still new because I’ve only been here for a year, but I’m feeling positive. We all start somewhere. What I learned here though is to never be 100% sure of everything. You need to come up with backup plans. But the biggest most important thing is in here, you have to be different and know how to hustle. Most of the time I get mistaken for a local, but I learned that to get anywhere, you have to stand out. The entertainment world is a jungle, so you have to be a lion to survive.