Life is a dance
Filipino Jens Trinidad is one of Norway's best dancers in Street Dance. Through physical movement, he feels that he is allowed to freely express himself.Jens was born in Oslo in 1987 and grew up in Hovseter, northwest of the city. Both parents are from the Philippines and came to Norway to work. He has two sisters and a brother and is the youngest of all the siblings. Jens comes from a musical family. I grew up with a lot of music at home. My dad played in bands, and my sisters were very passionate about music in their spare time. When they sat glued to MTV, I did the same. MTV music videos were the greatest thing ever for music-loving youngsters in the 80s. I listened to what my sisters listened to even though I was a few years younger than they. There was a lot of hip-hop, soul, RnB and pop music.
A NEW WORLD OPENED UPEarly on, Jens characterised himself as a small ‘ball of energy’ in the family. He always had good body control and enjoyed dancing. Some of his earliest childhood memories are of dancing in the living room while the others sat watching, clapping and cheering.
There has always been a discussion in the family about who I inherited the ability to dance from, because neither of my parents are particularly good at dancing. Nor is anyone else in the family for that matter, says Jens and laughs.
Jens was only 11 years old when he enrolled in dance class. One of his sisters had a boyfriend at the time who was dancing, and that inspired Jens to begin himself.
I really looked up to him. It was he who took me to the course, and in many ways ‘opened’ up a new world for me. That's when I met a lot of other young people who had the same interest in dance and music. I had plenty of good teachers, and it did not take long before I took dancing seriously and decided that this was what I wanted to do.
- I feel at least as Filipino as Norwegian. There’s a strong identity there, with customs and traditions and ways of thinking that will never disappear on my part.Jens developed the most important part of his dancing on his own, however, which gave him a distinctive expression as a dancer. What started out as a hobby would prove to be a successful and eventful career. But it was only when he was in his late twenties that Jens got the chance to make a career from dancing.
Today, he is a professional dancer, choreographer and instructor in the field of Street Dance. Jens has worked on major performances and collaborated with many talented people within dance and the performing arts, and he has also worked with influential artists such as Madcon, Samsaya, Ylvis and Adelén.
Jens also had the honour of being ambassador for international Dansen Dager in 2015, a sort of festival that profiles itself as a joint celebration for dancers at all levels and within all genres. Being appointed Ambassador for Dansen Dager is a great honour as only a few of Norway's foremost in the field receive this honour.
INSPIRATION FROM DIFFERENT DANCE CULTURESIt was Jens' mother who came to Norway first. She got a job as a nurse in Sørrreisa, which is located in Northern Norway. At approximately the same time, his dad got a job in Saudi Arabia and took it. Jens' sisters were born in the Philippines and lived with relatives for a short while. But the parents had a plan, and just a year later, the entire family was together in Norway. Jens and his older brother were both born in Norway. The family has settled in well here. While growing up at Hovseter, they were next door to another Filipino family, with whom they became close friends.
I see the neighbouring family as my own family. Their sons were about the same age as my brother and me, so the four of us played well together. The doors were open all day between our two homes, so we ran from one apartment to the other and almost felt that the homes were connected. It was a nice and safe upbringing, says Jens.
- As the night progressed, more and more request started coming in [...]. Luckily I had an intenret connection and could find tracks as we went.. people was rockin' out!Hovseter is often called the western edge's eastern edge because of the multicultural environment. It suited me very well to grow up there since I like socialising with people from many countries. In middle school especially, we were a class that had a great mix of ethnic backgrounds. This background has been an advantage for me in the profession I eventually chose. I have friends and colleagues with different backgrounds and from different nationalities. Dancing is limitless. Physical exercise is a common language.
The sense of freedom in dancing is important to me, which is why I began Street Dance early on. I started with hip-hop, and then immersed myself gradually in house-dance. After high school I took dancing seriously and travelled a bit out of Norway to get inspiration and experience dance cultures elsewhere. In recent years, I have become more interested in the performing arts and contemporary dance. So now I'm moving into an area between contemporary dance and hip-hop culture.
"EVERYONE CAN BECOME GOOD DANCERS»Jens now has a Norwegian girlfriend whom he has known for a long time. They have lived together for the last three years and have a daughter together. Jens describes himself as a home-loving man who puts his family at the top of his list of priorities, although he has a job that at times is hectic and also requires some traveling. As a professional dancer, choreographer and instructor at Jens' level, there are always opportunities to work abroad if you have ambitions. Jens can accept certain assignments, but it is not currently practical for the family to move to another country. Both he and his girlfriend are very connected to Oslo, and they see it as a great advantage that their child has grandparents, aunts and uncles nearby.
MyCall had the opportunity to follow Jens when he taught a dance class at the Oslo Academy of the Arts, and it was fascinating to see how he, through creative instruction, manages to transfer his energy and passion for dancing to the students. I think the ability to dance and move is a bit conditioned by culture and background, and we see that in some countries, people find it very easy to dance and to develop physically. But talent and cultural background are just part of it. It also depends on what you actually do with the talent. If you have a strong passion for music and rhythm and a desire to become good at dancing, then everyone can become a good dancer. At least in their own way.