For the month of OCTOBER, our Dancer of The Month is Muhammad Zaihar!
Representing Singapore at the Global Kinjazbang Tournament, the finalist has been in the scene for 16 years and is a respected senior and teacher that cultivated many dancers at various schools and events.
Watch his submission for the Tournament here!
Talk us through your dance journey. Who/What inspired you to begin dance?
“I grew up in a musically inclined family – both elder sisters can play the piano, my father and late mom loved singing. When I was a kid, my father played at Michael Jackson’s Live Concert on the Laser Disc (before VCDs) which he bought. That’s when I was amazed by the way MJ moved – so committed and passionate!”
I started copying the famous backslide, or many know it as “moonwalk”. Just to make it clear, moonwalk is a totally different move. The move where he slides backwards, that is called the “backslide”.
“A few years down, boybands like Backstreet Boys, 5IVE, NSYNC emerged and they definitely got me moving. In 2001, a secondary school classmate introduced Breaking to me. It’s better known as Breakdancing but the correct term is Breaking.
A few months down the road, when Justin Timberlake went solo and debuted his Like I Love You music video, it triggered the spark in me. That was THE video that made me go, “Oh man! I want to dance like this!”
So, what kept you going?
“It varies time to time but usually, what keeps me going is knowing that there’s so much to learn and discover about the human body, the encouragement from family, friends and other people around me, the achievements and setbacks I experienced along the way and now, realising how powerful Dance is – how it’s able to give people hope and motivation to go through life.”
Having been in the industry for a while now, what changes did you see in the dance scene then and now?
“Being in the scene for 16 years, I would say the music, style and culture changed. Prior to YouTube days, dancers resources was limited to only MTVs, VHS or VCDs that can be bought from the stores. There weren’t many dance classes, and dancers couldn’t afford it, so the concept of a team member learning a move or a combo from those resources and then sharing or teaching it with the rest later was common. Due to this limitation, dance crews had more identity because there wasn’t much reference. They had to come out with something out from their mind, not their eyes. Thus, most dance crews were unique.
As for music, for example, Hip-Hop, it was more old school and the lyrics were meaningful and deep. Nowadays, such music is getting less popular. Times change. Preferences change. People want something refreshing.”
Now, with YouTube being the popular resource for dancers, they can easily get access to the information they need.
“The world became smaller. Dancers become choreographers that get booked to teach overseas. Knowledge and skills are being imparted at a faster rate. Dancers progress faster and the community grows. However, with the readily available resources, most dancers begin to move like their idols. They move according to what they see, and not what they feel or think. There’s lesser creativity. There is nothing good or bad about this change, more of a matter of perspective based on my experience, observation and the information I gathered.”
How do you think dance will change in the future?
“It depends on the music and the current leaders of the dance community. Such as what they learn now and how they share this information to the rest later. I feel technology has a part to play too. It does impact dance to an extent. With better accessibility, online classes, especially for those who live far away, are emerging.”
What does dance mean to you?
“It’s a way for me to connect with people, to express how I feel and overcome certain situations. It’s a powerful tool that can change peoples lives and I believe, the world!”
What influenced your decision to follow dance as a career?
“Honestly, teaching was never in my mind. Seven years ago, I didn’t think that having a career in dance was possible. When I was first offered to teach at O School as a full-time instructor, i was shocked because teaching classes takes skills and requires a huge responsibility. So i took two years to decide. I discussed with close friends and family before finally making that decision. Seven years later, i have no regrets. Dance has brought me to many places, connected me with many people and most importantly, allowed me to try the variety of foods out there. Haha!”
To all dancers that intend to take up dance as a career, any words of advice for them?
“You must love Music and Dance. Both co-exist. You must be committed, willing to work hard, make sacrifices and be disciplined. Study the market. Connect with people genuinely. Be smart about who you learn from. Do what’s right, not what is easy. It’s not an easy journey but the ups and downs makes it all worthwhile.”
What made you want to sign up for the Kinjazbang competition?
“A good dancer who is also a friend of mine said, “You may be the biggest fish in the tank, but if you throw yourself into the ocean, it’s a different story.” So since it’s a worldwide tournament, I thought it’ll be good for me to see where I stand out there in this world of dance. Other than that, I saw it as a chance to exchange and connect with more dancers.”
Finally, any other events in the upcoming months that we will be able to catch you at?
“Got To Move which is happening on the 29th October and O School Recital which is happening in mid November. For more info, follow me on Instagram for updates!”