Peter Gloriano Kaihena, 27, is a hip-hop dance trainer who manages to divide his time between honing his moves with his friends, sweating it out with the members of the gym he works at and passing on his talent to third graders at a local school.
Coming from an Ambonese background, Peter says it’s not his heredity that gave him his ability to move on the dance floor, but a passion that courses through his veins and comes out in his feet.
Here Peter opens up about why being a wrinkly dance instructor is something he doesn’t look forward to, his passion for teaching the art of dance and the myth that dancing somehow calls into question a man’s masculinity.
You look like someone from eastern Indonesia. Were you born there?
No, I was born here in Jakarta, but my parents came from Ambon.
Can you tell me a little about what you do?
I am a freelance dance trainer at two gyms, Fitness First and Gold’s Gym, and I’m also a dance instructor at the Cikal Elementary School in Cilandak.
Those are two opposite crowds, don’t you think?
Definitely, but both crowds give me a similar kind of satisfaction. In the gym, I teach dance as a form of exercise, so my students don’t have to dance exactly like I do. As long as they sweat, it’s good enough for me. My satisfaction comes when I see 15 ladies in their 40s dancing as if they were professional dancers. It feels like the dancing skills are worth teaching.
What about at the school?
At the elementary school I teach third graders to move with better coordination and flexibility to the beat of the music, as well as self-discipline and self-confidence. When I’m with them at local competitions, seeing them move as a team — regardless of whether they win or lose — really makes me proud.
Where do you get your moves?
I graduated from the Sports Department of the State University of Jakarta. I hold a black belt in tae kwon do. I even attended a pre-qualification for PON [The National Games]. But I’ve never taken a dance course. I learned how to dance by myself, from listening to my favorite hip-hop music. I watch music videos, then I imitate the moves and finally I create my own moves. Now, I’m learning Latin dance, but not those dances you’d do in the ballroom. It’s more like freestyle Latin dance, combining salsa, tango and lambada with more flexible moving patterns.
So you learned to dance on your own. When did you realize you could make a living from dancing?
It started when I took a shot at a hip-hop dance competition in 2005. One of the jurors was a dance trainer at Gold’s Gym. He hooked me up with the manager and I got the job.
Did you win that competition? Do you compete a lot as a dancer, like joining those dance battles on TV?
I didn’t win it. I came in second. There aren’t that many dance competitions here. I’ve never competed in any dance battles, but every once in a while, I hang out with my friends and we share new moves and tricks. It’s not for the sake of competition, but only to have fun and hone our skills.
Now let’s talk about your dance skills. Do you think your prowess as a dancer has something to do with your Ambon heritage?
[laughing] I can see where you’re going with this. Do you suggest that because in Ambon, people party a lot — singing, dancing and all — so my cultural background makes me a good dancer?
Maybe. Do you think genetics have anything to do with being a good dancer?
I beg to differ. It’s not about your heredity, or genetics, or even talent. It is all about your passion for the music and the moves. If you’re passionate about dancing, then you will stick with it until you have it mastered.
That’s deep, man. So, I assume you will go on dancing and teaching it for the rest of your life?
I’d love to dance for the rest of my active life, but I don’t think my future students would love to be taught by a 40-year-old, wrinkled dancer. There will come a time when I have to quit teaching dance.
What would you do then?
I would work more on choreography, which is less physical. I have a dream to open my own dance studio, where I can pass on my skills.
Do you think that dancing poses a challenge to your masculinity? Do you think the ladies in Jakarta are attracted to good dancers?
For me, personally, I don’t think dancing makes me look effeminate. Some people warned me about the same thing, but I would never be like that. I love women, bro!
If I ever dance as sexy as Beyonce does, it’s because her songs would only be suitable for sexy feminine moves. The sexy moves stay in the studio. They never affect my gait outside.
About my male attractiveness, I guess the ability to dance smoothly makes me different from other men, in an overtly masculine way.
Girls love to dance, and if you can move, the girls will love you.
Peter Gloriano Kaihenawas talking to Fariez Setiawan