The ability and need to express ourselves through various art forms are innately human. For Zaihar, his avenue is dancing, with a forte in the styles of Hip Hop and B-Boy. A dance instructor at O School, Zaihar is constantly evolving his style and choreographing fresh dance moves. It’s hard for things to go stale with the passionate performer, given his love for the community and openness to new experiences.
In collaboration with Converse, we had the opportunity to discover more about Zaihar and be inspired by his positive vibe, while witnessing his natural ability to move with his new Converse Cons kicks.
Nookmag (N): What got you into dancing in 2001 and how did you develop your style?
Zaihar (Z): My secondary school classmate showed me some B-boy moves and I thought it was cool. So I searched for more videos online and was blown away by all the gravity-defying moves like head spins, flares, windmills and fancy footwork. What attracted me was the Style Moves because it emphasises a lot on flavour, originality and creativity. During this time, I was already watching the great Michael Jackson performances on LDs (Laser Discs) that my father bought for me. I really admire his passion and commitment whenever he performs – always giving his 100%! Shortly about a year later, I saw Justin Timberlake’s “Like I Love You” music video on MTV and the dancing in that MV got me – it was so smooth and sleek. Being constantly inspired by these movements, I develop a style that I enjoy doing and just focus on getting better at it.
N: Having danced for 14 years, how do you revolutionise/evolve your style and moves?
Z: By exposing myself to more dance styles and learning them, I’m able to increase my vocabulary of moves. Exploring the different art forms made me understand my body more – what it is capable of doing and what else it can do. Referring back to what I mentioned earlier in B-boying about having your own style, I like to fuse the different styles together and create my own flow and this flow will change. Like dance, it is always evolving and so is my style.
N: Is there a different dance genre that you’d like to try? If yes, what is it?
Z: I would like to try Tap dancing simply because one of my dance idols is Gene Kelly – one of the best performers in the world! It’s rhythmically challenging as well. Fun fact: Gene Kelly can tap with roller skates!
N: What music gets you grooving and why?
Z: Hip-hop, Soul/R&B, Trap, Funk, House, but my favourite has to be Break beats. Staying true to my roots!
N: Sometimes we feel like we can learn more from those we teach. What valuable lessons have your students taught you?
Z: To always fight and never give up. No matter how hard things might be, keep working hard. Struggling is good because it surfaces your weakness and when you work on it, it will become your strength. Being motivated by one’s struggle is better than ones success because it reminds me how hard I need to work to achieve what I want. To see my students struggling in class and fighting hard to nail a routine pushes me to keep going.
N: Who do you look up to in the dance world and why?
Z: There are so many and it changes every time because everyone of them has something different to offer but my top few are (not in any particular order): Michael Jackson, Gene Kelly, Lyle Beniga, Shaun Evaristo, Tony Tzar and B-boy Cloud – for their showmanship, flow, creativity and presence when they dance.
N: Understand that you travelled to the UK recently and had a great time with the dance community there. Tell us more about the trip and what you have gained from the experience.
Z: I was in Manchester for a week for HDI Summer Dance Camp – the biggest dance camp in UK and I got the opportunity to teach a workshop alongside other renowned choreographers from the US and they happened to be dancers whom I look up to. Last year I was there (as a student) taking all the classes and had the best week of my life.
Students came from around the world and they were amazing – good energy, good people, good times. Everyone displayed so much talent and showed so much love and support for each other and this is something I rarely experience. The camp taught me how to be a better teacher and of course, a better dancer. So to be back the second time and this time, teaching was surreal. It was an honour to be up on that stage teaching and it’s amazing to see everyone dancing my choreography. Seeing how others interpret the routine opened my eyes and mind more. Like the saying goes, you climb the mountain to see the world; not for the world to see you. So I remind myself constantly to work harder so I can see more of what’s out there.
N: What values/beliefs do you live by?
Z: You get the energy that you give. If you spread good energy, you’ll get good energy. Vice versa. But if you don’t get good energy back, it’s okay. Just walk away from it and go where the good vibes are. If you want to succeed, you must first believe you can do it. Things happen only when you believe in yourself. It’s all in the mind.
N: What do you think makes a dancer stand out?
Z: His/her passion and desire when he/she dance. How he/she expresses him/herself with every move. It’s not what the dancer does. It’s how the dancer does it.
N: How do you like your new Converse kicks and how does it complement your style and wardrobe?
For hardcore dancers like myself, who do a lot of footwork and jumps, I like how soft the insole is and how much heel support it gives me by absorbing the impact from every step and jump, taking most of the weight off my lower back when I land. I’m usually out in casual wear so the kicks definitely complement my style. The striking red with white base enhances my moves especially when I do a lot of footwork. I think these kicks are pretty cool!
Conversation seeks out inspiring individuals who possess a creative spirit and brim with passion. It offers an insight into the lives of these individuals and the things that drives them. This edition is proudly sponsored by Converse.
Photo Credits: Chee BP