From winning countless dance contests to travelling the world to judge dance competitions, Zaihar is living the life of his dreams.
“When I was in secondary two, a classmate asked if I wanted to learn breaking. He started showing me dance moves like the handstand and six-step, and I thought this way of moving your body was really cool.
He also showed me videos of people spinning and standing on their heads, and that got me to participate in our school’s Talent Time competition. Back then, we were divided into different coloured houses, and with the help of my dance performance, my house won.
It was a great feeling because I didn’t know that you could actually win something through dance, and that sparked something in me. I’ve not stopped dancing ever since. I’ve now been dancing for 21 years, and I still get butterflies before I perform.
When I first started, I used to store my dance videos on YouTube. I remember getting a comment from a mum who had just lost her daughter to cancer. She was going through a hard time, but she shared that watching my dance videos helped lift her up.
I was like, ‘Wow! Dance could do that?’ And that made me want to dance even more. If I get to inspire even just one person out of a hundred through dance, I am happy. Now, I get to inspire others through teaching. I’ve been teaching dance for 11 years.
It was never on my mind to teach. I didn’t even know of dance classes when I first started out. But when I started performing at events with friends and school seniors and competing in a team, we’d get monetary awards, and I’d use the money to join classes.
I didn’t think much about these classes, but I’d get feedback like, ‘Zaihar, you’ve improved a lot and you’re moving so much better now’. Ever since then, I went into this cycle of joining competitions, winning, getting money and using the money to attend more dance classes.
And because of that, I started getting more recognition and opportunities, like choreographing for artists, music videos and advertisements.
You know, there’s this stereotype that Malays are lazy. So, when I get selected by key figures in the dance industry to represent Singapore at international competitions, I am very proud to show that Singaporeans can make it. It makes me prouder to be Malay as well.
We are showing kids that success is a matter of being willing to make sacrifices, set aside time, stay focused and believe in whatever you are doing. When you do that, good things will come to you.
Fast forward to now, I never thought I would be teaching, judging competitions overseas and getting invitations to see the world as a dance professional. I am now at a place where I can confidently say that I’m leaving an impact on others.
The responsibility has grown bigger, but in the words of Spider-Man, ‘With great power, comes with great responsibility.’ That has become my mantra, and with whatever skills I have, I hope to utilise them to inspire others.” – Zaihar
Interview by: Cindy Abner