Amandus Paul Panan, a 33-year-old local, holds a Master of Technology Creative Artistic(Theater/Dance) from University Technology MARA. He is an artist that Sabahans should be proud with.
He used to lecture part time at the Faculty of Creative and Artistic Technology in that University in Shah Alam, Selangor and was also the artistic director of Abantug Production, a company that deals in dances, creative arts and films. Nowadays he is attached to Anak Seni Production.
Paul as he is known to friends and family, comes from Kampung Tombulion Darat Kota Belud and grew up in Kampung Bambangan Inanam.
This man is a true artist in all his expressions, not having achieved fame through reality shows or talent search, but because he is a visionary who thinks outside the box.
It is with this capability that made him a dancer to be contended with in Expo Malaysia in Dhaka Bangladesh from May 20 to 30, in the year 2012 when he danced his interpretation of Malaysian traditional dances, including the intricate and almost mystical Kelantanese dances.
However his long list of achievements are mind boggling and quite impressive; coming from a young man who struggled to get where he is, it is worth a salute at least.
This determined young man was born the fourth of seven siblings, with parents that struggled to put them all through school. His mother was and still is a seamstress who had to work hard to supplement the family income.
As a young child, Paul went to live with his grandmother in her village in Inanam and they struggled to survive.
“It was a tough life but it taught me a lot, such as tenacity, perseverance and gratitude,” he shares adding that as a child he made himself happy by singing and role-playing.
“My sisters and cousins would pretend to shoot a video clip at the paddy fields, singing our hearts out and running around, emulating clips we saw on TV.”
He was an active child, choosing to laugh and sing instead of grieving about his rather impoverished life.
He would grab any opportunity to compete in singing contests instead of watching at the sideline. He won several singing contest and was happy enough with his trophies.
“The hardship encouraged me to study hard and determination to succeed. I want to make sure that I never suffer like that again when I grow up. I also wanted to achieve my childhood dream of directing a video shoot or a movie in future.”
Going through several challenges tangible and otherwise, Paul furthered his studies in the Peninsular Malaysia to to pursue his dreams, and on his road to success he participated in many artistic activities and competitions.
One was the Festival Zapin (Fekaz), University Sains Malaysia, Pulau Pinang, organised by Prisma Seni where he won first place as choreographer and also snapped up the best costume slot for this attempt.
He also participated as a choreographer in the Festival Colours of The World (Fesco 2012) — at University Technology Petronas (UTP), also organised by Prisma Seni.
He proceeded to perform with the Cuci the Musical III at Istana Budaya, Kuala Lumpur as part of the ensemble.
This musical was produced by Tall Order Production and directed by Harith Iskandar and Hans Isaac.
In early July, he was among Malaysia’s representatives for the Bulgaria International Folklore Dance Festival 2012. He went as a dance choreographer.
Paul has since performed for Malam Anak Kelantan and Anak Negeri Sembilan at UiTM, SACC, Shah Alam, under Primaseni.
“The previous year 2011, I participated in Andong International Folk Art and Mask Dance Festival, organised by IOV (Unesco-NGO). During this festival, I choreographed the dance and also performed. I won second place as a choreographer in the group category and placed third as a solo dancer.”
“Later I took part in the MMU Dance Festival 2011 and choreographed the creative dance Tenun, as well as a combination of Malay traditional dances.”
The highlight of his career could well be the World Championship of Performing Arts in Los Angeles, USA.
His group won the championship (THE BODY) in the senior group dance category. He came back to the country and choreographed for Sekolah Menengah Cochrane, Maluri, Kuala Lumpur for their High School Dance Competition 2011. He won as choreographer there too.
“In 2012, I participated as a choreographer in the Festival Colours of The World (Fesco 2012) — at University Teknologi Petronas (UTP), also organised by Prisma Seni,” he shares adding that he also performed for Malam Anak Kelantan and Anak Negeri Sembilan at UiTM, SACC, Shah Alam, under Primaseni.
To put his all his achievement down could fill an encyclopedia, but last years achievements should not be left out. He is the costume designer for the Opera entitled Sa’adong, in Penang and Kuala Lumpur. These opera will be carried out through this year.
“Other than that I am in charge of the wardrobe and makeup for “Chowrasta” directed by Dato’ Professor Razak Mohaideen. My othert activities last year included choreographing and designing the costume for Pandu Putri Malaysia dance Competition 2014. I won the competition.”
Costumes for Mister Culture Diversity International 2014/2015, in Manila, Philippines are also designed by Paul as well as the National Costume for Mister Borneo Malaysia Culture Diversity.
He dances too and was the main cast of the Musical Theatre “Mud”, shown from June to August Panggung Bandaraya KL.
One of his main achievement is the Super Dance and Folklore Dance Festival 2014, Saint Petersburg, Russia. He won first place for choreography work on folklore dance Category and also won the best National Costume Designer.
Paul has achieved his dreams. He has danced for theatres, sang with Tiara Jacquelina Abdullah, the well known artist in the Hang Tuah Theatre Production and he has showcased his talents on stages in front of international audiences.
Maybe he has not grasped his fame or riches yet but he has done Sabah proud with his artistic expressions. His Youtube videos are well watched.
His one wish is to carry on his art, showcasing his talent and weaving his traditional expressions in his creations, this dusun tindal lad shares.- Sayangsabah.