Irfan Qurashi brings his passion of authentic street style hip-hop dance to his students and classes at the Dance and Music Academy. Born in India, Irfan moved with his family to Queens, New York at the age of two. There, he gained his first exposure to hip-hop dancing. Irfan recalls seeing dancers on street corners, practicing and jamming, and feeling a fascination for the whole concept. Hip-hop and art seemed to be ingrained in the culture of New York, and that atmosphere fostered Irfan’s primary interests in dance. Around the age 11, Irfan moved to Chicago, where his true discovery of dance took flight.
Growing up, Irfan didn’t attend classes at a dance studio, but that couldn’t stop him from exploring the art. In those early years of dancing, Irfan’s teachers were the greats- any of the world’s top hip-hop artists he could watch on YouTube. He would watch videos of dancers showcasing a specific style of hip-hop or skill, and then eagerly mimic their movements. Irfan first experienced dance in a group setting in high school, where he got involved in Orchesis and other dance groups. After high school, he began dancing in the professional world.
Upon entering college at UIC, Irfan began dancing with collegiate and professional dance groups. Irfan has worked with some of the top tier choreographers and dancers of the Chicago dance community and the dance world.
Irfan says his experience teaching at DMA has been overwhelmingly positive. “The first thing I hope to instill in my students is that there is a certain level of technique and foundation that goes along with hip-hop. There’s also a specific amount of respect we owe to each dance style,” said Irfan. These styles grew up in different cities, atmospheres, and clubs, and Irfan tries to teach dance history along with the technique. When it comes to teaching, Irfan realizes that hip-hip technique can be foreign to the young dancers. Being the bridge for the youth between learning and understanding hip-hop is the most rewarding aspect of Irfan’s teaching job.
Irfan watches his students go through the same discovery process he did when he was younger. “It’s a process all dancers go through,” said Irfan. “You see (the dancers) slowly incorporate this urban, street style movement into their natural freestyle.” Irfan also expressed the pride he feels as a teacher. “All the dancers at DMA are supremely talented and good at what they do.”
Keone Madrid, one of Irfan’s many dance inspirations, has said: “A great student is what a teacher should aspire to be”. Apart from teaching, Irfan commits himself to dance classes, workshops, and showcases every week. “Continuing being a student pushes me to be a great teacher,” he said. “If I am instilling a great focus and work ethic to dancers, I should be able to hold that standard to myself.”