Mark Vincent Sindhunata
Usually at shopping malls you see crowds of people scurrying about making their purchases, but a sight at Season City Mall might surprise you. The West Jakarta mall is where you will find dozens of children dancing and rehearsing while you do your shopping.
Andi Jaya, 29, is the man behind the kids. He says it is an honor to lead these talented kids in a dance group called Season Star. Today, he tells My Jakarta about his community activities, his experience in developing the program, and his dreams for the children’s future.
You hold your training inside a mall — how do you get access?
In the beginning we had a big problem with mall security. The kids often gathered and trained quietly so the security didn’t notice. If they did notice, the security would kick them out. That continued until we got permission and support from the higher-ups.
The neighbors often complained but now they understand us and don’t complain anymore.
How influential was your background in teaching kids how to dance?
It did influence me. I was the first-place contestant and ‘Best Dancer’ in a 1998 TV show called ‘Let’s Dance,’ and I’ve realized that dance is my life.
It can make you feel happy and proud of yourself. It is a gift from God and you have to be grateful for it. When I first saw children that loved to dance, my heart kept telling me that I had to help them and keep them on the right track so their talent won’t be wasted.
Where do the kids perform?
We have training sessions every Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Sometimes we train almost every day if we have a heavy performance schedule. The children train in the store for my event organizing business and they usually play music using a stereo or a laptop with external speakers.
As far as the performances go, we have performed many times in malls, ranging from Jakarta to Depok, and of course Season City Mall itself. For Season City Mall, we have a set schedule to perform every month.
Dancing usually complements singing. Do you teach singing also?
When we first established this community in 2011, we only focused on dance, but as kids kept coming and bringing their friends, we found that many were not only able to dance, but also sing. So, to help maximize their fullest potential, I extended this community to accommodate singing.
We had one kid who regularly won singing contests, and we also have boy bands and girl bands. I hope they can become the next SM*SH and Cherry Belle [smiles].
Do you have any other job besides managing this community?
I have an advertising and event-organizing business.
Thanks to this business, I was able to establish this group because I have worked on Season City Mall’s ground floor since 2004. It was the first place I saw these kids do dance training. We have about 220 members.
Does this community interfere with your job or family life?
Yes. I have to admit it really restricts my time, especially with my family. I spend almost all my time working at my job as an event-organizer for money, plus I manage and help kids here. So I only have a little time to spend with my wife and kids. I hope in the next two or three years, someone will take my place with the [dance group] kids.
How do you fund the team?
We only get funding from our sponsor and it is all used to support the kids, like with our club costume and jacket. If we have to travel to perform, we also use the money for transportation costs.
We need a lot of money to do that, considering we bring almost 50 kids to each performance. The mall looks like there is a tawuran [brawl] if we have a performance [laughs].
You seem to steer the kids to find dancing as a career —do their parents object?
In the beginning, some parents didn’t support their kids’ decision to join Season Star because we were just a community, and not an official talent group or something. However, as the kids kept performing and we became larger, we had their full support.
Maybe most people and I agree: sometimes we need to be careful in cultivating our kids’ talent, as we often hear stories about contract problems and talent being wasted.
What is your dream for this community?
I hope the Season City management keeps supporting these kids and, if possible, gives them a proper place for training, such as a large room with a big mirror or something. We have already asked the management about it, and I hope they will approve it in the near future.
For the kids, I hope the parents keep supporting them in their hobby and extend their talent. I just want them to raise their talent level and be successful.
Andi was talking to Mark Vincent Sindhunata.