MJ Nasir, the Self-Taught Dancer, and Choreographer from Kashmir
You look at MJ Nasir dancing, and you wish you could move like that. You wish dancing could be so easy and effortless.
MJ Nasir has discovered the beauty and joy of dance. Nasir is only 24, and he is emerging as a popular dancer and choreographer in Kashmir. Nasir’s full name is Muhammad Nasir ullah Wani. He started pursuing his passion for dancing alone in 2008 with no coach to guide him. At that time, social media was not a vibrant platform, like it is today. But that did not deter Nasir. He followed his passion with a single-minded focus.
Nasir lives in Karan Nagar in Srinagar. He is so inspired by singing and dancing legend Michael Jackson that he added the initials MJ to his name. Nasir calls MJ his inspiration and his mentor.
MJ Nasir’s dream is to represent Kashmir in dance competitions globally. He runs a small dance academy by the name Alive Academy Music and Dance. “Dance is also a form of exercise because one needs fitness to perform well. I always tell my dance groups – make dance your drug,” says Nasir.
Nasir says his dance academy is his initiative to curb the drug menace in Kashmir. “It is far better that youngsters should remain engaged with dance-based activities. One can practice at home even during lockdowns. Dance will keep them healthy physically and also mentally,” he believes.
Nasir’s life journey is an account of how determination and hard work can overcome all hardships.
Nasir was born in January 1996. He was two years old when his father died of cardiac arrest. His has two elder sisters. After the death of his father, his mother was left alone to look after the three children, but she could not earn enough to feed them. Nasir was seven years old and in Class 3 when he had to quit school to earn for his family. He started working in a tea stall as a service boy. His salary was a meager Rs 300 a month. He worked so that his sisters could study, because he did not want them to suffer in any way.
Nasir never wore new clothes for Eid because his family did not have money to buy new clothes. When he was 11 years old, he started working as a salesboy in the shop of his maternal uncle. Nasir used to earn Rs 700 a month and always gave all his income to his mother.
Nasir was introduced to music through is maternal grandfather Ghulam Qadir Langoo, the renowned Sufi singer. He was about 12 when he got attracted towards dance and started practicing. He had to practice in hiding because the society does not support Western culture. He was also constrained by the financial crisis at his home.
Later, Nasir started working in a car garage at a monthly salary of Rs 1500. After working the whole day, he used to practice in the house of a Kashmiri Pandit which had been locked for a long time. Within the walls of that deserted house, he practiced his moves. Dance became his passion, but he was still afraid of society. No one supported him and his talent except his few friends, who believed in him and helped him in every way.
MJ Nasir has won multiple awards for dance. He has been awarded at diverse events including Kaavish Talent Hunt, Royal Kashmir, Light Action Camera, Kashmir Adventurist, Creative Kashmir, Drug-Free Kashmir, E Toner, etc. He was also awarded at a function organized by SSM College, Pattan.
Nasir has performed in more than 80 events in Srinagar and in different districts of J&K. He has also performed in some events outside Kashmir. He has made many music and dance videos, and these shall be featured on his YouTube channel soon. Nasir has struggled a lot in this field and faced multiple challenges to his dancing career. He remembers how people used to demotivate him with harsh words. “People used to mock me, saying that you are wasting your time. You are ruining yourself. Dance has no future in Kashmir and you can’t earn from dance. Today Allah has proved all of them wrong,” says Nasir.
Slowly, as Nasir became a more skilful dancer, he started performing for his friends, and later in groups. This is how he got his break as a dancer and started performing socially.
Nasir says he wants to give opportunities to all beginners who are struggling for a chance to prove themselves. “If they feel that dance is their passion, I will give them the required training so that they can build their self-esteem and achieve what they want to, in life,” says Nasir.
Never Feel Defeated
Nasir urges youngsters to never feel defeated by challenges. “Life will always have problems. Stay strong and face all challenges so that you are able to fulfill your dream,” he says. He also feels bad that youngsters are discouraged from excelling in different fields. “If people cannot change their mindset, if they cannot support real talent, at least they should not spread hate,” he says.
Dance has enabled Nasir to earn his bread and butter. “The wise say that if you are good at something, never give away your knowledge for free. Otherwise, people won’t value it.” Nasir says he has found that Kashmiri children have great talent. “Many Kashmiri youths are working in Bollywood and in other areas of entertainment. But so far, nobody has done anything great in dancing. I want to achieve national and international fame for Kashmir as a dancer,” he says.