|Birth name||Hassan El-Hajjami|
August 1, 1977 |
|Occupation(s)||Dancer, Free Styler, Actor, Mime, Choreographer|
Hassan El-Hajjami (حسن الحجامي; born August 1, 1977), better known by the stage name Haspop, is a French-Moroccan artist who combines dance, mime, and acting. In solo performance and as a member of dancing group Pockemon Crew, which he founded, he has won several contests, including standing as individual champion in France and Europe for Popping (2003 and 2004, respectively) and, in 2004, world champion with the group. He relocated in 2005 to the United States, where he performed several years with the Cirque du Soleil in the Love show in Las Vegas in the role of the Walrus. In 2010, he became more widely known to American audiences when he was selected as one of the semi-finalists for the 5th season of the NBC television program America's Got Talent. He is also one of the finalists for the 5th season of the French television program La France a un incroyable talent aired on M6. In 2012, Haspop auditioned for Arabs got talent. He made it through to the semi finals but was eliminated. Starting December 6th, 2012, he is the dance teacher on a French TV show named Star Academy.
He was born Hassan El-Hajjami (حسن الحجامي) on August 1, 1977, in Bron, France, near Lyon, to a family of modest means. From the ages of ten to twenty, he pursued the career of boxing, while at the same time earning a Certificat d'aptitude professionnelle in plastering and masonry. After asking a friend who was a street dancer to teach him some dance moves, Haspop turned his attention to dance. In 1999, he founded the hip-hop dance group, the Pockemon Crew, and went on to win a series of competitions, both on his own and with his group. In 2003, he was the individual champion in France for Popping, and then in 2004, he won the European title. In 2003 and 2004, the Pockemon Crew won French, world and European championships in hip-hop, including first place at Battle of the Year 2003.
In 2005, he was invited by Cirque du Soleil to audition and was accepted. Unable to bring his two children (whom as of 2010 he visited routinely), he performed in the United States for Cirque du Soleil from 2005 to 2009 in the Love show in Las Vegas in the role of the "Walrus." In 2009, he decided to leave the Cirque, but with the challenges of the economic recession returned to street performance, residing in Santa Monica, until, in June 2010, he began his participation in America's Got Talent.
Hassan began to box at a young age at his father's request. He quickly excelled at the sport, going on to become an inter-club champion in France. One lazy afternoon he went to see a friend of his, a hip hop dancer who had performed in the town square in Lyon. Hassan became intrigued by the wild style of hip hop dancing. He was immediately convicted. His parents are devout Muslims and dancing is frowned upon in his culture, but it was something Hassan couldn't ignore. He began to learn from his friends and was a natural, quickly becoming a popping sensation. He became the Popping Champion of France, then Europe, then the World, as he created his own self-taught style he called Has-Pop Style. One day at work, a colleague brought his father a newspaper stating that Hassan was Champion of France. Hassan's father immediately thought it was for boxing, until his colleague corrected him. It was for dancing. Hassan's father was less than thrilled until he spoke to his son and learned that Hassan was making a very nice living from dance, while helping to support his parents and three brothers.
A friend who had auditioned for Cirque du Soleil in Paris was asked if he knew anyone that specialized in popping. Hassan was summoned, completely baffled as to why a circus would want a popping dancer to perform among their animals. After the audition, he went back to France to be with his wife, who was giving birth to his daughter. While she was in labor, he received a call from Cirque. The doctor went ballistic, but Hassan knew it was the call he'd been waiting for. He was cast as The Walrus, the lead dancer and principal character for "Love." The birth of his daughter Ines and his career happened at the same time. Hassan and family moved to Montreal to prep the show, and then to Las Vegas, where he became the star of "Love."
Hassan infuses his dance style with a signature undercurrent of comedy and playfulness, which not only wows audiences but entertains in a way that straight dancing rarely does. Whether performing across the globe for Cirque Du Soleil or busking on Santa Monica's Third Street Promenade, Hassan has never forgotten his humble beginning, his simple roots, nor his passion for hip hop dancing.
America's Got Talent
Haspop auditioned for the fifth season of America's Got Talent in Los Angeles, which aired on June 1, 2010. The three judges, Howie Mandel, Piers Morgan, and Sharon Osbourne, unanimously voted him forward to the next round in Las Vegas. Once he reached Las Vegas, the judges selected him as among the 10 acts to move directly to the quarterfinals in Hollywood without having to compete in another round of eliminations. A total of 48 acts were ultimately selected for the quarterfinals in Hollywood.
In Hollywood, he was in the third batch of 12 quarter finalists who performed live on July 27, 2010. The judges gave him positive reviews, with Howie Mandel commenting that "That is what I'm talking about. That is wow! It really is wow, Haspop!" Piers Morgan added that he thought Haspop's was "the performance of the night, so far." Sharon Osbourne agreed with the other two judges, stating that the performance was "spectacular, absolutely spectacular." On July 28, 2010, Haspop was voted by the viewers to move to the semifinals. On September 1, 2010, Haspop was eliminated along with Maestro Alexander Bui over 10 year-old opera singer Jackie Evancho.
- "L'incroyable talent d'Haspop". TVMag.com (in French). December 1, 2010.
- Rivet-Paturel, Michel (27 July 2010). "Natif de Bron, Haspop envoûte l'Amérique de son incroyable talent". Le Progrès. Retrieved 2 August 2010.
- Rockwell, John (9 December 2006). "A Glorious Rush Hour: 28 Cities Converge to Dance". New York Times. Retrieved 2 August 2010.
- Frex, Aurélie (9 June 2010). "Un danseur frenchy épate les Américains". Europe1. Retrieved 2 August 2010.
- "Hassan El Hajjami". Cirque du Soleil. Retrieved 2 August 2010.