Footloose, but not fancy-free

'I am a very emotional person. I feel things very deeply, and it's easy for me to portray it in dance,' says Raziman Sarbini.
Raziman, who had no background in dancing prior to ASWARA, entered the Dean's List upon graduating.

FOR someone who only began dancing at the age of 19, Raziman Sarbini is doing very well for himself. Upon leaving secondary school in Limbang, Sarawak, he tried his luck at an audition to enter the National Academy of Arts, Culture, and Heritage (ASWARA).

"I didn't know what I wanted to do with my life … maybe I would have become a policeman if I didn't get into ASWARA," he laughed.

He got inspired to learn dancing after watching reality dance show So You Think You Can Dance and seeing how athletic and amazing the dancers were. It's been quite the journey for Raziman, and he is now on his way to New York University (NYU) to do the Master of Fine Art programme at the Tisch School of Performance Art.

With zero background in dancing, how did you find fitting in at ASWARA like?

When I entered ASWARA, I was surprised but at the same time, excited. I'm very enthusiastic about practical lessons and I'm a student that works hard.

Every new dance that I did, I liked it. Except Indian dance – it's difficult.

I can do it, but I just don't like it. But contemporary dance is my favourite.

I like ballet as well, even though it's difficult for me, a person who has no basics in dancing and only began at 19. The good thing about studying at ASWARA is that you learn so many different kinds of dances, which enables you to switch your feelings easily as well.

Does bringing out your emotions when dancing come naturally to you?

It comes naturally to me. I am a very emotional person. I feel things very deeply, and it's easy for me to portray it in dance.

I can switch it on very easily. I guess that's why I dance well; it could be due to my personality and attitude too. I'm a hardworking student.

I always want to go beyond my capabilities, and I frequently compare myself to someone who is far more amazing. I'm always setting the bar higher for myself by being dissatisfied with what I have.

What have you been up to since you graduated from ASWARA?

Since I graduated, my biggest and most immediate goal is to enter university overseas. A year after I graduated in 2015, I got accepted into NYU. But the biggest problem I faced was that I didn't have enough funds to enter the programme at Tisch.

I only had a RM100,000 scholarship from Yayasan Sime Darby, but it wasn't enough as the programme itself costs approximately RM600,000.

However, I persisted and sent letters to many companies, knocking on possible doors, which could help fund my studies. I really wanted to further my studies.

I felt that if I stayed in Malaysia any longer, I wouldn't be able to grow as much. I've worked with many amazing choreographers and teachers in Malaysia, and I feel like now is the time for me to grow.

Now, I can happily say that I have obtained a full scholarship to further my studies in Tisch.

What advice do you have for students who want to pursue their dreams, but may not have sufficient funds for it?

I'd tell them to work really hard, no matter what. Put in 200 or 300% in everything and nail it. Show people that you're really good and passionate in what you want.

That's the most important thing that you need to show people before you ask for any assistance. Your persistence will be proof that you're good and deserving of it.

It's also important to listen to advice from experienced people in the area; ask questions, take their opinions.

Also, be very humble and know your roots well. If you feel like you don't have any opportunities, find one. There will always be an opportunity. I went through this a lot last year – I was struggling. Don't give up.

caption left - "I am a very emotional person. I feel things very deeply, and it's easy for me to portray it in dance," says Raziman Sarbini.

cap right - Raziman, who had no background in dancing prior to ASWARA, entered the Dean's List upon graduating.

cap bottom -