Thursday, 22 August 2013

Putting the “passion” in Compassion

Haiqal Sari caught up with TRCC Assistant Director Mr Zaini Tahir during the RP Band Auditions to chat about his artistic experiences, beliefs and philosophies.


It is a word that is closely associated with Mr Zaini Tahir. Just one word and dedication is demanded in an instant. Often repeated over and over again during Create Republic’s IG’s practice sessions and rehearsals, it is used to subtly send the message that practice is needed – immediately.

Now, who is Mr Zaini Tahir? Entering the arts scene at the age of 19 when he joined the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) Music and Drama Company, Mr Zaini’s passion has taken him to Europe and North America as a dancer and choreographer, as well as Australia and Hong Kong as part of the cast in Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber’s famed musical CATS. As the Resident Choreographer and Artistic Director of the NUS Dance Ensemble, Mr Zaini has choreographed over 100 works for the company.

Drafted in as a judge as he oversees all the operations and performances of the 24 IGs in Create Republic, Mr Zaini, - along with TRCC’s Executive of Venue Management and IGNITE! 2013’s producer Mr Kenny Lim - runs the rule on which band is good enough to make it to the IGNITE! stage in little over a week’s time.

When it comes to performing, his typical pre-performance routine consists of physical activities and time spent in solitude as he visualizes his steps. When he is not busy doing work, Mr Zaini spends his time tucked in at home watching television. With an illustrious career that has brought him all over the world, his worst experience came back when he just started out. In his own words, he was a “struggling dancer performing for a getai function at a third-grade local Chinese nightclub where the audience was mostly drunk.”

Mr Zaini has forged a solid reputation for himself in the performing arts scene not only locally but also internationally. So, what keeps him driven?

With a swift backcomb of his hair, his eyes brighten up as he reveals the reason for his success. The secret, according to him, lies in his philosophy of “Carpe Diem”.

As he aptly puts it, “I believe that you have to live your life to the fullest because you only live once.” Having worked on performances for companies such as Theatreworks and Singapore Airlines, Zaini clearly has a burning desire for success. With a serious look on his face, he repeatedly mentions the fact that an artiste must have pride and dedication in their work.

“If you want to be an artiste, you need to have pride in your craft... You’ve got to know your research. You’ve got to hone your craft,” Zaini muses, index finger rubbing chin while deep in thought.

It is this same exact pride and dedication that he preaches which is clearly evident during the semi-finals of the auditions two weeks ago. Despite arriving in Singapore from China after his latest choreographical work just two hours earlier, Zaini spent the next few hours judging the auditions with the intense scrutiny that he is known for.

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