Arts & Culture

Phyo Wai Koko: Sustaining Dance Through Exposure

Mantra: Keep going, keep learning

Words by
b-side staff

It is every dancer’s dream to showcase their moves on a big stage. Phyo Wai Koko has not only brought his animation dance style to the national stage, but he has gone a step further and broken into the international scene. But how does one start dancing when the country where one lives lacks the necessary infrastructure?

I’ve wanted to dance since I was around 10, when I saw Michael Jackson’s moonwalk. I started self-learning at the age of 16 and have been motivated to continue learning and practicing by watching animation dancers.

Based in Myanmar, Phyo Wai Koko shares with B-Side his journey towards the international stage and where that experience has taken him thus far.

‍What was it like when you learned how to dance for the first time?

Learning to dance for the first time was not easy. But what kept me going was how good the legendary dancers were, and it really made me want to become better and learn more.

What do you think helped you to improve and dance at the level where you are at now?

I believe it’s consistency. The consistency of ‘keep going, keep learning’ has helped me to always improve. In fact, I still have a long way to go. I still need to keep learning and practising with even more consistency to get to where I want to be.

I understand that you are a contemporary and hip-hop dancer. What do you want to express with your dance?

Actually, I would think of myself as an animation dancer. I express my emotions with dance moves, and they come out strongest with lyrical animation dance. My dance is a combined expression of the music and my mood and emotion.

How was your experience on national and international platforms like Myanmar’s Got Talent and Tiger Beer’s The Call From Within like?

I was one of the semi-finalists on Myanmar’s Got Talent in 2014, and it was such an honour. It was really a chance to showcase my dance to the whole nation. And the best part was that people responded and accepted the dance style. That was really a huge win for me.

Tiger’s The Call from Within Campaign was one of my biggest achievements, and it took my dance to the next level. Because dancers were coming from all around the world, I got to meet talents from different backgrounds and experience. I was exposed to various forms of arts and was inspired by how everyone was pursuing their dreams and trying to make it happen.

Do you think your exposure on these platforms helped to sustain your career as a dancer?

For now, yes. Being on these platforms promoted my dance and connected me to an audience. When there is an audience who is interested to see more, I am then able to keep doing more of what I do.

Is exposure through competition or being discovered by big brands important for a dancer to build a sustainable career? If not, how else can aspiring dancers build their career?

I think being discovered by big brands is important not just for a dancer, but for any talent trying to reach their dreams. These brands can promote us and help build our own brand and image to reach an audience we would never be able to reach on our own. Then it’s up to us to be consistent in our efforts to achieve our goals.

How is the dance scene like in Yangon and how would you like to influence it?

To be honest, the dance scene in Yangon is still very niche and a very small circle. For it to improve, we need to develop it more and have more people participate. To me, dance is everything. It is good for the soul, emotions and health. So I hope I can inspire more people to pick up dancing in Yangon.

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