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Interview: Elhaq Latief, Rising Star in Town!

For Jakartans' musical aficionados and theater-goers, 'Elhaq Latief' is already a familiar name. He is still young, but he has a long line of theater credits for Directing, Choreographing and Acting. Among others, he has participated in THE NUTCRACKER, MUSIKAL SEKOLAHAN, LOVE BEYOND 12AM, THE NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS, BURLESQUE THE MUSICAL - An Original Story, BROADWAY KE JAVA and recently, WEST SIDE STORY.

Born in Jakarta, October 27th, 1995, Latief started his first theater experience when he was 13 years old back in Melbourne, Australia. ZOMBIE PROM was his first theater production by Hawthorn Secondary College. Latief discovered his talents in Music, Acting and Dancing during junior high school. He also spent a few years learning piano, trumpet and flute. In late 2009, he went back to his hometown, Jakarta, where he attended Global Jaya International School. The school gave him a platform to grow his talents in singing, dancing and acting. In 2011, his english teacher noticed his talents and told him to audition for Jakarta Players, a community theater in Jakarta. Latief went to the audition and got cast, mainly for the prominent role, then he was involved in a number of productions. Latief stayed with Jakarta Players for a few more productions, while he also worked for semi-professional and professional productions ,and later on co-founded Jakarta Performing Arts Community (JPAC).

Latief's first Musical Theater Production; Zombie Prom (early 2009) in Melbourne, Australia by Hawthorn Secondary College, directed by David Bramble.

Latief is now pursuing a Communications degree from The London School of Public Relations, Jakarta, while being involved in Teatro, the College's Theater club. Latief has never taken any formal education in Musical Theater. However, he has auditioned to a number of performing arts school in New York such as AMDA (American Musical and Dramatic Academy) and AADA (American Academy of Dramatic Arts) with scholarship grants. Latief studies ballet in Sumber Cipta Ballet School under the care of Farida Oetoyo; an Indonesian Ballet Maestro. He also decided to study other dance styles such as contemporary, jazz and hip hop by taking classes and workshops around Jakarta. In 2016, Latief participated and was granted a scholarship by the YES ASEAN Musical Theater program, a program by the U.S Embassy for the ASEAN community to learn more about musical theater (Broadway) culture. This program was led by Nikki Snelson (LEGALLY BLONDE THE MUSICAL on Broadway, A CHORUS LINE US National Tour), as the choreographer, and Dr. Peter Thoresen, as the voice teacher. Latief stated, that it was such an honor to work with them.

Besides acting, Latief also works as a choreographer for a number of musical productions. He learned his choreographing skill from the dance classes that he took. He also looks up to many dancers and choreographers such as Jerome Robbins, Marius Petipa, Bob Fosse, Matthew Bourne, Jerry Mitchell, Michael Bennett, and Rudolf Nureyev.

Latief portraying an ex-terrorist Turan in To A Better Home (2017) by Gigi Art of Dance, directed by Gianti Giadi. Photo taken by Berdy.

In his spare time, he does a lot of teaching for dancing and singing in one of the international schools in Jakarta. He also opens dance classes on Saturdays (mostly hip hop classes). After the success from JPAC's WEST SIDE STORY last week (where he played Tony, and also credited as the choreographer), he does not have any upcoming project in the near future, yet. However, he would love to do A CHORUS LINE. It is one of his biggest dreams to do choreography or play in A CHORUS LINE, because he personally thinks he can relate deeply to that musical. Currently he just started learning the tap dancing. Latief said it's because they are such a peculiar dance genre compared to other dances that he studied before. It is also the baseline of any Broadway dance.

Latief portraying Paradise in the musical he's directing, Burlesque The Musical (2015).

Among other Performing Arts industry, local theater is often considered a "second career". Latief sincerely hope that Indonesian society will consider theater as a serious career choice. Furthermore, he also wish that the local theater industry keeps on growing and widely supported. He wants to familiarize himself with the scene, therefore someday he can act, sing or dance in prestigious stage, like Broadway or West End.

Photos: Elhaq Latief's personal documentation.

From This Author - Yuliani Supandji