- By Trisha Husada
- BBC News Indonesia
Whenever nine-year-old Miyu Ananthamaya Pranoto stomps her white sneakers on the dance floor, crowds jostle for the best view of her freestyle and breakdance moves.
The diminutive dance prodigy from East Jakarta has gained a massive following for her effortless mastery of moves that are bread and butter for dancers twice or even thrice her age – and height.
Sporting baggy clothes and with her hair tied in a tight bun, Miyu is charting a rare path for girls in conservative Indonesia, where the dance scene is well behind other Asian countries such as South Korea and Japan.
And her parents are fully supportive. “Miyu’s dream is our dream. Whatever her goal is, it is also our goal in life,” says her mother Rizky Mellissa.
At a recent international contest in Vietnam, one of Miyu’s performances went viral on YouTube with 45 million views.
After that breakout appearance at the Summer Jam Dance Camp in Da Nang, her Instagram followers doubled overnight to 217,000.
Semmy Blank, Miyu’s dance mentor, said her talent and passion makes it easy for Miyu to learn difficult moves by heart. “It’s not hard for me to teach a person like Miyu. Compared to adults, I think she really can top them as a freestyler and her skills improve really fast in terms of foundation, technique and musicality.”
At a recent dance class in East Jakarta, Miyu took centre stage.
With Kid Ink’s You Remind Me and Duckwrth’s Power Power blaring from Bluetooth speakers, Miyu stomped and glided across the dance floor. Even when other dancers were out of breath, she kept going, repeating each step over and over until she got it right.
Always eager to learn, Miyu asked a classmate for pointers on a difficult breakdance move – spinning on the floor before hopping back up on her legs.
The class ended with Miyu’s classmates swarming her for selfies. She politely obliged.
Miyu says that it was Korean boy band BTS – her favourite BTS member is Jimin and her favourite choreography from the group is for their hit song Idol – that got her into pop music, and then into dance.
K-pop also introduced her to dance competitions like Street Woman Fighter and dance channels like 1Million. “It surprised me, I didn’t think there were kids who could dance so well,” says Miyu, who started dancing just two years ago.
Freestyle is her favoured genre – she won an award in that category during her first competition: “It’s more free than choreography too so it’s not so much thinking exactly, it’s just like freedom.”
Miyu’s father Haris Pranoto said dance classes keep his daughter in top form as she competes across Indonesia almost every month, from Jakarta to Bali to South Sumatra. “Miyu has trained more for dance battles actually. So mentally, she has the courage for a dance battle.”
When she is not dancing, Miyu divides her time between school and taking piano and voice lessons. She has also taken up drawing as a hobby.
“After school, straight to piano lessons,” says Ms Mellissa. “Tomorrow, she has singing lessons and then dance practice with her crew. Our job as parents is to find a balance so she doesn’t get burnt out.”
Miyu says she wants to take her passion for dance to the next level: “I want to be a professional dancer and maybe a teacher, not just for students, but for dance idols”.