Stepping up and standing out
There's a reason Japanese hip hop dancer Kentaro!! has two exclamation marks in his name. He knows how to move!! He taught about 30 aspiring dancers at Studiodanz in Quarry Bay last Thursday. Junior reporter Arjun Sivakumar was there to learn what hip hop is all about. Check out what he discovered ....
How did it all start?
The Japanese hip hop dancer, who is now in his late 20s, learned to break dance at 11. Even at such a young age, he was already very talented. His parents noticed his interest and his natural gift, so they enrolled him in professional dance courses when he was 13.
Kentaro!! grew up in a traditional Japanese family, but he was eager to broaden his mind. He loved to watch hip hop performances on television. Kentaro!! says he finds joy in dancing, and he thinks of his performances as entertainment.
Rather than follow the mainstream, Kentaro!! mixes hip hop, classical, contemporary and ballet traditions in his unique style. He says he doesn't want to be part of the crowd. He sees himself as a proud Japanese guy who wants to make something on his own.
His creative choreography makes him stand out, but it hasn't been easy. He practises rigorously and studies different styles for a deeper understanding. His perseverance and passion has paid off, though. Kentaro!! has made a name for himself. He has gone on tour in the past few years. Last year, he performed in Germany.
In his 18-year career, Kentaro!! has won several awards. In 2008, he won the French Embassy Prize for Young Choreographers and a Toyota Choreography Award.
'My job is challenging,' he says. 'I have to work hard, but I also have to balance work with physical and mental relaxation so I can get ideas for my music.'
He also composes hip hop music on the side.
For Kentaro!!, hip hop isn't just a hobby. It's his life.
He performed last week in the Hong Kong Arts Festival with two dancers from Taiwan and Indonesia.
If you are a full-time secondary or tertiary student aged 25 or below, check out Young Friends of the Hong Kong Arts Festival. The group is a way to meet other arts lovers, enjoy performances and learn more about arts administration. Members can also attend two festival programmes and many other arts activities.
For more details, visit www.yfs.artsfestival.org