October 22, 2010

MALAYSIA: At 60, Jayaretnam is the epitome of agility

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia / The New Straits Times / Living / October 22, 2010

Showbiz: Never too old to dance

Jayaretnam and Shuba in their first-week performance last week

New dance reality show Mari Menari sees a surprising contestant in a father-and-daughter team.

Nur Aqidah Azizi checks them out

AT 60, Jayaretnam is the epitome of agility.

While other men his age would rather stay at home, he engages in something that’s least expected — dance competition.

Jayaretnam and his daughter Shuba Jay are among the 12 contesting couples in Astro’s new dance reality show, Mari Menari, which premiered last week.

“I’m doing this for my daughter. I wouldn’t have joined this competition if anyone else were to ask me,” he says. “Since I like to dance, I thought it could be something fun to do with my daughter.” Dancing is not something new for Jayaretnam’s family. They will open the floor for the family members whenever they’re together.

“Especially during festive season, where we can spend more time with relatives, that is when we normally play our favourite songs and dance with the rest of the family like there’s no tomorrow,” he says. Looking fit for his age, Jayaretnam credits that to his interest in taekwondo, long-distance running, dancing and golf.

“I having been doing all these activities with my kids. I believe these have helped me with my fitness,” he says.

But competing with other young contestants is no walk in the park for him. “Honestly, I didn’t expect it to be this challenging. I have to practise on my own, in addition to the training provided by the choreographers.

“It does take a lot of time, but I take this challenge positively. I believe the training and packed schedules will keep me younger as I get to try on a new challenge every day.” But this father-of-five admits that despite his fitness, he has to give way to his ageing mind. He finds it difficult to remember the dance choreography at times.

“I hope it will get easier for me to remember the steps, if my daughter and I get to continue in the show. But whatever it is, I always remind myself that at least I’m still young at heart!” he says with a laugh. For Shuba, her father’s willingness to take part in the competition means a lot to her.

“At first, I wanted to join the competition with my husband. But due to work commitment, he had to reject the idea. What’s more, my husband is a bit shy when it comes to performing in public,” says the bubbly dancer, who is also an actress by profession.

“Then I tried to talk my brother into it. Again, I was turned down. I was frustrated at first, not realising that the perfect guy had been right here all this time,” says Shuba, referring to her father.

She’s grateful that the competition has brought them closer. “Some Asian parents are not expressive when it comes to showing their love and affection to their kids. Although I’m close with my father, there are things that are a little awkward for us,” she says.

“But Mari Menari has broken all that, and I realise that my father is more open to me now. He would hug me or hold my hand whenever he wants to. I feel like a small child again.” Like other partners, Shuba says sometimes they too have to face difficulties and pressure from the competition.

“There are times when the pressure starts to take its toll on us, I will remind myself that I have to be patient. “My father might not be as sharp as other male contestants, but he’s determined, and that’s what’s most important. If he slips, it’s OK. I will always watch his back.” Mari Menari airs every Saturday at 9pm on Astro Ria (Channel 104). The results show is aired the next day, every Sunday, at 9pm.

Fifty per cent of the marks will be determined by the judges while the rest from SMS votes.



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