One On One With Shay Latukolan
Can you introduce yourself?
I am Shay Latukolan and I am 25 years old. I’m a dancer, choreographer, director and ambitious DJ. My biological father is Nigerian and my mother is Indonesian / Moluccan. My dad who raised me is also Moluccan, so I had a warm Moluccan upbringing. I was born and raised in Zwolle until I left for Amsterdam to pursue my ambition when I was 16. So I’ve been living here for quite a long time now.
Where did the passion for dance come from?
I have been passionate about music since I was born. As I said, my family is Moluccan and music plays a very big role in my family.
A lot of my family members are also musicians or have something to do with music. At a young age, I started grooving at family parties with my aunts. After I got older and went to high school, I noticed that expressing music through movement brought me more happiness and it also appealed to the girls at the time, so 1 + 1 was 2. I see myself as ‘Mambo’ from the movie ‘Happy Feet’. Just like him, I was born with a different look and I am also the only one who dances while everyone else makes music.
How long have you been busy with this?
With my passion? I have been doing this for 12 years now. It started at the age of 13 when I canceled my soccer school for breakdance lessons. My dad was not happy, but on the other hand, he always said; ‘do whatever you want.’ His words always stayed with me.
“ WORLDWIDE, THAT’S FREAKING AWESOME ”
You traveled around the world at a young age. How did you experience that?
I was 14 when Eszteca Noya took me to Brno (Czech Republic) to a dance camp called ‘StreetDanceCamp’ for the first time. Eszteca had to give workshops at one of the first European hip-hop dance camps. I did not know what I saw, the best hip hop dancers in the whole world in one place. My ego was tested, at that time there was no Instagram or Youtube or other platforms to see people of that level. So suddenly, I was inspired to work 20 times harder than I was already doing. I told myself that just like Eszteca (my mentor), I wanted to travel around the world to dance/choreograph/give workshops and currently I am living up to what I said through dance. I have seen about 50 countries including my bucket listers: Tokyo, Osaka, Rio De Janeiro, New York, Los Angeles, Jakarta, Peru, Singapore, Oslo, Moscow etc. At the moment, my life consists living out of my suitcase, which is super exhausting, but I am super happy.
What gives you inspiration?
I have a lot of friends who do different things apart from dance, like photographers, producers, creative directors, artists, etc. So that certainly inspires me.
We see some awesome choreographies on your Instagram all the time. At what moment do you have the certainty that certain dance movements must be translated into a choreography?
I am originally a freestyle hip-hop dancer from the street, really a dancer based on feelings, so when I choreograph I make my movements from the first feeling I have.
And from that time I trust it and then I put it that way. Maybe it is not always the most intriguing visually, but it is pure and that makes me, me.
A while ago, you got yourself a role in the Gstar Raw campaign in which you show some eccentric moves. How did you experience that?
That’s right. I also choreograph a lot of brand commercials and TV shows and when I was doing Dance Dance Dance Season 3, I was asked to do the movement direction for a new ‘G-star’ campaign. In that campaign, they wanted to show flexible moving denim through my raw dance. I sat down with the creative director of G-star and the campaign director for a plan of action. I called some dancers to create a great campaign for G Star. I also dance in this project, but damn what a cool project was that!
“ DEFINE “
In addition to a great interest in dancing, do you need more to survive in the world of dance?
Yes, just like any art form you have to exhibit your work or what you do. Whether you are following a lesson or going to a jam or making dance videos, staying in the sights of clients and choreographers in your own way is important. This will give you the chance to work on projects, and in this case, I’m talking about commercial projects.
In which kind of genre do you place yourself as a dancer?
Street dancer, for sure! I literally learned and trained from the street, the studio came later. I always say from the street to TV, but I always move with my street attitude. My style comes closest to Hip-hop with many influences from Funk Afro and Krump.
What is your opinion on so many new young talents, who mainly tend to dance hip-hop? Are you never afraid that the market will be saturated once?
I am happy that so much new talent is standing up. Hip-hop dance is finally reaching a platform like Hip-Hop music does, so I am happy with that. I do not worry about what someone else is doing because I am very busy with my own artistry and I know that nobody will be like me. That’s exactly what I want to develop so that nobody can compare to me and because of that, I can always work. I do notice that I should not focus on work, but more on my art, then others will come.
“ IDENTITY “
You have your own look and identity, which manifests itself in many colors and shapes. How did this happen?
That is indeed true, I have something with colors. When I see colors in combinations, it makes me happy and it is also very present and fragrant. I think that is also the reason that I paint and combine a lot of color in my clothes. But besides that, I also paint on my clothes, haha.
What are your favourite fashion brands?
I do not really have that, I always buy things that I like. I am aware of what is ‘in fashion’ but I do not follow it at all. Being unique and yourself is important as an artist. I can be just as happy with a secondhand jacket that no one has as with a Visvim Shoe.
What is most important in a collaboration between you and a person/brand?
It needs to be unique in a way that everything we are going to do is not done yet or just twisted. I really want to distinguish myself, and I think brands should do that too.
If you had to name a person/brand that you would like to collaborate with, who would it be?
Pharrell Williams, why: purely because this man has inspired me since I can remember. Those inspiring aspects can be seen in his way of using color in his clothes, the choice to go left, while everyone goes right, and of course his music and how humble he is. Andre3000 would also be sick tho.
What skills are necessary to be a successful dancer?
Passion, skill, humbleness, dedication, discipline and professionalism. That is the foundation. Then there are many other things like being in the right place, knowing the right people, the right timing etc.
As a dancer you always have to be in top form. Do you also pay attention to what you eat?
It is very important what you eat. Your body is your instrument and if you want to stretch it out for a long time, you have to take good care of your body. I have to say that I personally slack because I love my mother’s nasi goreng too much…
What appeals to you most in your own work?
The moment when I have finished creating a dance project, like something innovative that comes out the top of my mind and then it becomes visual. If I look back at it and if I am proud of it, it appeals to me the most.
“ THOSE MOVES, BRUV! “
I saw a nice choreography from you and Diana Matos. How does such cooperation work if you make a new piece?
Haha, thanks. Such a collab is just like music. For example when A$AP Rocky does a feature on Rihanna’s track. I think Diana Matos is too sick and her style appeals to me because it looks like mine. When we were in the studio we were fairly quick. It clicked so well that the creative process was completed in 30 minutes because we both felt no limit. Sometimes that click isn’t there and then days pass.
Who is your biggest support?
My parents. Always have been and will always be. I think that all I do is to make my parents proud and make myself happy, then you already know how important it is for me to feel support from them.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
Thanks, man! I intend to move to Los Angeles in October 2018. I see myself choreographing, creative directing and dancing within 5 years for a legit artist on a world tour or a big show. At least that is my goal.
What are the best things and the less fun things about being a full-time dancer?
Every month is an adventure. Personally, I think that is wonderful. I arrange my own time, I work when I want to work. I get in touch with so many people around the world. Dance is a language that everyone in the world speaks, so I can do a lot of traveling. And if you work hard, you earn something beautiful in return. Less fun for me personally is that if you make your passion your profession, sometimes you lose your simple passion. Sometimes you do lesser fun assignments, so you lose a piece of passion. That’s why I like it that I can use multiple passions in addition to dancing, such as DJ-ing and painting
“ THE OPPORTUNITIES FOR A CREATIVE INCREASED SINCE THE INTERNET “
What does the internet and social media mean to you?
I attach great value to social media platforms. I think as an artist, everything you bring out is an extension of what you do and want to be. Everything I bring out, I am very aware of. For that, I am an artist!
For who is your presentation interesting and what do you want to give the audience?
I think I do not worry about what people think, I actually do what I want and that’s why I attract the people who feel what I do. What I want to say to people; ‘Be yourself, enjoy your journey. Because everyone is unique and you better keep your trust in that’.
Photography: Annebel Eppinga