When grace glides over blistered feet
After being his father's apprentice for 22 years, Dinie is now ready to find his own footing as a Malay dance choreographer.
Dinie Dasuki used to be just another Malay dancer in his father’s productions.
Now, after being his father’s apprentice for almost 22 years, Dinie is finally ready to break away from his father’s shadows to become a recognised choreographer himself.
As we sat down with the 28-year-old for our interview at Goodman Arts Centre, we noticed that the dance studio’s walls were filled with photos of Dinie and his father Osman Hamid, an established choreographer in the local Malay dance scene with over 40 years of dance experience.
The budding choreographer recalled: “I used to tail my dad around for his Malay dance classes and performances [when I was young]. I even participated in his Chingay performance when I was 6!”
Growing up in a household that was very active in the Malay dance scene, you might think that dance was Dinie’s ambition all his life. But dance was, surprisingly, not his first dream.
“I treated it as a mere CCA or hobby while I was in school. After junior college, I considered [taking up] teaching, so I took chemistry at NUS. I even thought of signing on to the police force after my national service,” said Dinie, who is a full-time staff at his father’s company, Era Dance Theatre.
The eldest son of five siblings added: “It was only after I had my first taste of choreography in 2012 at the Kacip Mas Dulang Permata 3 production that I had a change of heart. [I find it] interesting that I get to combine the use of time, space, and bodies to create a meaningful choreography.”
Chasing his dream is not easy for Dinie, especially when his benchmark is his dad.
Dinie, who recently obtained a specialist diploma in arts education from the National Institute of Education, admitted: “Sometimes, I feel the need to prove something. Maybe it is the pressure of being Osman’s son, so there are expectations from other people. I feel like there is a benchmark I need to meet or surpass.”
Instead of letting the pressure weigh him down, Dinie considers his parentage a privilege.
“I find it accessible because he [Osman Hamid] is like a 24/7 mentor to me. I can connect and share my thoughts or perspective to the dance that I am choreographing. He guides me into grasping a deeper meaning in dance while enhancing certain features of the dance. For that, I am grateful,” he added with a smile.
Difficulties aside, dance has produced wonderful memories for Dinie.
In 2015, Dinie won the Most Popular award in SPROUTS, a dance choreography competition organised by the National Arts Council.
Dinie, who has danced in over 100 performances, recalled: “I remember participating in my senior’s choreography entry for SPROUTS in 2011 as a dancer. It was only after five years that I felt ready and experienced enough to submit my own choreography for the competition.”
Dinie, who got married last September, also met his wife through dance.
“We were both from NUS Ilsa Tari [a Malay dance society in NUS]. We started off as friends, then I upgraded to a boyfriend and then a fiancé… The next thing we knew, ta-da, we got married!” Dinie exclaimed.
When asked about his future plans, Dinie said: “I hope to enrich my dance vocabulary with recognised dancers from prestigious dance institutions. I also look forward to develop and build a network with other artistes.”
His advice for youths who dream of becoming a Malay dance choreographer like himself?
Dinie said: “Just go for it. It’s like the Malay saying, go jer don’t scared [just go, don’t scared]. When starting out, you should start out small. If you can get to the level of the big players out there, it would be good, but that will only happen much later. Who knows, you might even find your soulmate while chasing your dream too.”