Ballerina of the Month: June 2019

The rains finally arrived, albeit later than usual, this month, providing the much-needed relief from the scorching temperatures that our city witnessed. Pune recorded the hottest day in 52 years at a whopping 43 degrees on April 28, 2019. But nothing really, even these hot summers, has been able to stop our young, dedicated and sincere ballerinas from their rigorous prep for the highly anticipated Nutcracker concert taking place on Sunday, 7th of July 2019.
Keeping our traditions alive, after our short hiatus, we’re back at turning on the spotlights on the best of our students with the Ballerina of the Month series. We’re exhilarated to crown AaratrikaWahi as the Ballerina of the Month for June 2019.

A 6th grader at Vibgyor High School-NIBM, 11-year-old Aaratrika (aka Misha fondly), is the only child of Rishi Wahi, a startup entrepreneur and Aditi Wahi, a former Sr. Manager at Infosys. Aaratrika will be playing the much-coveted role of the Nutcracker Prince, who leads the battle against the fierce Mice King and his army.

When asked about how her daughter started with ballet and LDAB, Aditi recalls,
“It was the classic influence of her friends, who were already learning ballet at LDAB that got Aaratrika initially interested. She had her first class in August 2018 and since then there has been no looking back!”

Aaratrika is quite a diverse young person when it comes to her interests and hobbies. She’s always had a soft spot for all things art and craft. She’s also a singer, with pop-singer Taylor Swift’s music having a huge influence on her. She’s also a budding sportsperson. She plays basketball for her school team.
Aditi describes Aaratrika as someone’s who’s shy and a tad bit moody at times. On one hand, she happily sings in school recitals and dances to contemporary Hindi music tunes at school & at their housing society programmes, but then she will also act all coy when asked to do the same before her relatives at family gatherings. We can’t really fault her on this though! It’s the same story in every home, isn’t it?

We enquire about how the Wahis are getting up to speed on Ballet as a dance form and her dad Rishi tells us, “We weren’t really aware or educated about ballet as a dance form until last year. Aaratrika’s foray into this world has been educational for all of us and this really has been a journey. As a parent, I’m glad to see her be so enthusiastic and engaged with something that she really cares about.
Another important trait that her mother talks about,
She just needs to be nudged in the right direction and then she’s all set to perform wonderfully!
That nudge has certainly come in the form of our Nutcracker concert, where Neha, our creative director, chose Aaratrika to play the lead role of the Nutcracker Prince.

Providing the rationale for her selection, Neha speaks highly of Aaratrika,
She has been a very dedicated and focused student. Her dedication is complementary to the fact she has natural grace & a strong acumen when it comes to picking up choreography fast. This role required someone who possessed all these characteristics and someone who could put up with a very demanding rehearsal time schedule. And I must admit she has managed all of this beautifully. She’s also been really helpful with guiding 5-year old ballerinas who are soldiers in the play. I’m very satisfied with my choice and I’m sure that she’ll set the stage on fire with her portrayal this week.

BALLERINA OF THE MONTH October 2018

BALLERINA OF THE MONTH October 2018

It’s kind of ironic, this month of October; we celebrated Dussehra, the festival that epitomises the defeat of the gods over demons and then as a recent contemporary import from the West, there are parties in the urban centres across the country inviting youngsters to revel in the jollification that is Halloween, a festival where we dress up as ghosts, demons, witches and what not! Natalie Portman’s ebony feathered costume from the ballerina movie, Black Swan, will make one amazing Halloween costume for sure! A few thousand miles away in Germany, there’s the merrymaking in the spirit of the October Beer Fest!

We, here at LDAB, have our own reasons to celebrate in October. We’re celebrating the crowning of young ballerina Mira Vogelaar as “Ballerina of the Month: October 2018.”

Mira, 10, is the daughter of Joel and Elishiba Vogelaar. She’s a 5th Grader at Vibgyor High School. Mira is fairly new to ballet, having been a student for about 4 months with LDAB now. Her relative newness to ballet hasn’t held her back in anyway though. Our Creative Director, Neha Suhjani’s assessment of Mira’s progress stands testament to this,

“She’s full of enthusiasm when it comes to ballet. Her intelligent questions during class highlight her razor-sharp focus on all that I teach.”

Mira is the older sibling to 6-years-old Lovisa and 5-years old Asher. Lovisa is a fellow ballerina at LDAB too. Joel happily admits, “Mira and Lovisa love jumping and dancing around the house all day long. And I guess that transcends to the ballet class as well.”

Neha also adds her observations on their sisterly love, “Mira helps her little sister tie her perfect ballerina bun and makes sure that her shoes are properly worn at all times. She’s subconsciously cultivating the discipline that this dance form demands effortlessly.”

Joel is a Dutch citizen, who has now happily settled in Indiafor the past few years with his Indian wife and kids. He ran a graphic design, multimedia and event management firm in Holland. Since 2014, he’s been a teacher of Culinary Arts at the Maharashtra Fellowship for The Deaf. He also manages his own bakery “Dutchies” in the campus. 

They say the apple doesn’t fall very far from the tree. Mira has inherited many of her parents’ interests. She loves to paint. She plays the piano beautifully. She sings and has performed live in her church multiple times for crowds of over 400. Her dad’s there to accompany her with his guitar and the rest of his bandmates. She even bakes when she spends time at Dutchies.

But there’s something zen about Mira. Her father shares, “Her teachers at school go gaga over her work in the Arts and Music subjects. But Mira never bothers to competitively pursue them and win medals or prizes. She’s has no interest in vain things like recognition, self-promotion, awards and accolades. She pursues these hobbies simply because she enjoys them.” That’s a lot of wisdom for a 10-year old, I must admit.

I ask Mira what she’d like to be when she grows up. She’s non-committal,to say the least, “My mom wants me to be a doctor maybe. But my dad wants me to do whatever I want to do.”
Joel’s got some sound parenting advice for everyone here, “Childhood and the teenage years are honestly the best time to let children discover their talents and gifts. That allows them enough time to hone their craft and eventually make a substantial career out of them.
For now, Mira is thoroughly enjoying her time at LDAB. She’s made amazing friends in her Grade 1 batch here. Most importantly, she’s looking forward to performing in the Nutcracker Ballet Concert that’s planned for July next year. It’ll be her first real live stage performance as a ballerina and we’re sure she’s going to be amazing in it.

BALLERINA OF THE MONTH January 2019

BALLERINA OF THE MONTH January 2019

2018 was a memorable, momentous year for LDAB. Our students performed at a TEDx event at St. Mira’s in Pune. We had the glorious opportunity to represent India at the “Dances of the World” event held in Kuala Lumpur. LDAB was extensively covered in the media with numerous articles showering praises on our work in the field of dance. Our Artistic Director, Neha Suhjani, was featured on 2 city radio stations: Radio Mirchi and RadioOne, where she talked about her passion for ballet and teaching. LDAB added another international feather in its cap with its affiliation to UNESCO’s Council of International Dance (CID). We hosted 2 international examiners from Singapore and Australia to conduct the first-ever international ballet exams in Pune. 

Keeping the momentum going in 2019, we’ve already launched the 2019 Ballerina Calendar featuring our talented students on its pages. We also hosted an award show to laud the stellar performance of our students in the CTSD examinations. Our resolution for this year is to take LDAB to newer heights and spread joy amongst our budding ballerinas.

Keeping alive our glorious tradition of crowning an industrious and gifted student every month, we’re extremely elated to announce that Anwesha Ahuja has been bestowed with the regal title of “Ballerina of the Month for January 2019”.

Anwesha, a calm and quiet 10-year-old, is a 5th grader at Delhi Public School. She’s the younger child of Preeti Ahuja, a Home-Décor exhibitions consultant and home-maker, and Anuj Ahuja, an IT professional working at Cognizant.

Ballet isn’t Anwesha’s first brush with dance. She trained as a Bharatanatyam student for over 6 months, before coming to the realisation that learning ballet was her true calling. The good kind of peer pressure must have played an important part in this switch. About 6 of her friends already were students at LDAB, which sealed the deal.

On quizzing her about her other interests, Anwesha tells us about the plethora of extra-curricular activities she participates in at school. She’s fond of art and craft, she enjoys basketball and is also part of the calligraphy club.

She’s also a budding celebrity chef of sorts. It’s a father-daughter culinary team at the Ahuja home every weekend. They have a Youtube Channel: “Artistic Anwesha”, where they put out meticulously designed and produced videos of Anwesha preparing lip-smacking desserts. If you want to quickly learn how to make mango popsicles, chocolate shots, Oreo ice-cream or a chocolate smoothie, do check out Anwesha’s channel.

Giving her take on new-age parenting, Preeti tells us,

“I have an older son Adhyan, who’s a 12th grader and a really studious sort of student. But my daughter is a diametrically opposite personality type. She’s good at studying, but we understand intuitively that extra-curriculars is what she naturally gravitates towards. As a parent, it is my responsibility to let my child enjoy the freedom of exploring and carving out her own personality, rather than imposing a pre-formed template on her.”

Echoing his wife’s sentiments, Anuj agrees by succinctly giving his own take, “As long as she’s having a good time, I’m supportive of all of Anwesha’s endeavours.”

It’s been about 7 months since Anwesha started learning ballet at LDAB and she is completely obsessed about it. She eagerly looks forward to her bi-weekly session at the academy. Something she happily confesses is how utterly enamoured she is by her teacher, Neha. We happily concur. Neha’s warmth and graciousness do always seem to make her students love her more!

Giving her insights on Anwesha’s journey as a ballerina at LDAB, Neha tells us,

“Anwesha has been studying ballet for less than a year, but her passion for the art form isn’t any less than that of her friends, who have been at it for longer. She’s always trying to be her best, which is quite evident when she asks her senior Grade-2 friends to judge her moves. The most endearing quality she possesses is her smile. Even during difficult, physically draining sessions, I always find that her bright smile lights up the spirit of the whole class”

BALLERINA OF THE MONTH February 2019

BALLERINA OF THE MONTH February 2019

A sparrow once was really angry on the Sun because he shined too brightly, and hence, she could not take her young ones out. The Sun was annoyed and did not shine the next day. There was darkness all around and nobody could get out of their houses at all. The sparrow realized her mistake said sorry to the sun and all was well once he came back

Moral: Be polite and don’t get angry on people for doing their jobs!

You must be wondering, why are we narrating this Panchatantra styled fable today? This is a short story written by NyassaSanghvi, a talented 9-year- old and already from the likes of this story, we infer, is really insightful for her age.

We’re excited to announce that Nyassa has been crowned as the Ballerina of the Month for February 2019.

Nyassa is the younger daughter of Samta, an accessories designer, and Rajeev, a property developer. She has an elder sister, Jiyana, a young ballerina at LDAB, who is a former Ballerina of the month. Clearly, talent runs deep in the family.

Nyassa is a 4th Grader at St. Mary’s in Pune. Her mother Samta describes her as a free spirited, mischievous brat who doesn’t really care about the rules and has a very moody personality. I wonder how this volatile demeanor can be ideally suitable for a dance form such as ballet which demands discipline and dedication of the highest standards from its students. On quizzing further about these aspects, Samta confesses,

“The reason I encouraged Nyassa to take up ballet was because Jiyana loved it at LDAB. That’s how she got started with it. Initially Nyassa really had very little inclination towards it and she was almost at the verge of giving it up. But I remember, Neha had a one-on-one pep talk with her that had a lasting impact on her and after that day, things turned around and how!”

Our Creative Director Neha Suhjani concurs,

“After our talk, there was a marked difference in Nyassa’s performance in class. Here was this girl who would jump around with abandon and pay very little attention. And then overnight, she transformed into someone who always has her head held high with her body in the perfect posture when we’re practicing. Now, she will religiously move around in class only on her tippy toes just like an ideal student of ballet.”

Nyassa transformation has borne her rich dividends. She passed her first CTSD examination in November last year with flying colours.

Jiyana and Nyassa share a special sisterly bond. Jiyana has a motherly attitude towards her. Nyassa, on the other hand, will surely end up on Santa’s naughty list as she tries to irritate Jiyana in creative ways. However, deep down they both love each other immensely. They performed together at LDAB’s Once upon a time concert in December 2017. 

Nyassa also happens to share a beautiful relationship with animals. She emits an aura that makes her particularly affable towards animals. This was an observation made by a monk in Thailand, when the Sanghvis were all on vacation there. Nyassa petted a wild deer, which wagged her tail in glee and licked her cheek affectionately.

No wonder, Nyassa owns a pet too. She can spend hours at a stretch talking and playing with “Waffle”, a very creatively named guinea pig whom she adores.

I conclude by talking to Samta about her parenting philosophies, who has some solid advice,

“Let the child just be. Every star shines. They will excel at their own time, provided we as parents let them. I am very proud of the fact that that my daughters are comfortable about sharing everything with me without any filters. I’ll be content if both my daughters turn out to be good human beings.”

CSTD Examination November 2018

CSTD Examination November 2018

Exams are significant events in every student’s life. Historically, students more often than not end up associating exams with “stress”. That may be true when it comes to conventional tests in school and college, but we at LDAB take pride in the difference we make in the lives of our young ballerinas by not causing an iota of stress throughout the exam process.

Over 80 students from LDAB shall be appearing for their Pre-Ballet, Primary, Grade 1 and Grade 2 examinations,taking place on November 28 and 29, 2018. The Examinations are being conducted under the programme designed by the esteemed Commonwealth Society of Teachers of Dancing (CSTD), headquartered in Australia. We at LDAB are proud to announce that this year the examinations shall be graded by learned instructors flying in from CSTD headquarters. It’s an honour for us to host these renowned personalities in Pune and we believe this will be an equally exciting and enriching experience for our ballerinas as well.

As part of the abovementioned approach to exams at LDAB, we’ve collated a list of things we expect from our bright exam-takers, which if followed to the T, will ensure that it’s a complete joyride from the start to the end. We urge parents and students to carefully go through the entire article below.

Preparation

Our classes for November shall be majorly geared towards getting students exam-ready. Neha Suhjani, our Creative Director, shall be giving out important tips and tricks pertaining to the syllabus, the important exercises etc. needed to ace the tests. We emphasize that attending all the sessions this month is the best way to prep.

Exam Day Attendance

 

The students shall be taking their exams in groups of 2-3. The Exams are spread over 2 days: 28th and 29th of November, 2018. The Time-Table has been already shared with the students.

The students must arrive at the centre dressed in their complete uniform at least 20 minutes prior to their scheduled exam time. Changing into the uniforms after arriving at the centre shall not be allowed.

Attire

We expect the students to be presentable. This is an important factor in the grades awarded.

  • Hair:It should be tied in a neat and tight ballerina bun only. Care should be taken that no
      strand of hair stands out. Use of hairspray is advised. Only black hairbands can be used. 
  • Jewellery:It is advised that no piece of jewellery such as long earrings, necklaces and bangles
      are worn. However, small earrings are allowed.
  • Makeup:We urge that no makeup of any kind should be worn by the students.
  • Uniform:Uniforms are colour-differentiated based on the Exam. Please ensure that the
       student wears the uniform in accordance to the exam for which she is appearing.

Exam

Uniform (Leotard)

Skirt Needed?

Pre-Ballet and Primary

Royal Blue

Yes

Grade 1

Violet

No

Grade 2

Grey

No

  • Stockings:They should be pink. Please ensure they are washed and not ripped.
  • Shoes:Ballerinas should wear well-fitted soft ballet slippers (leather/satin). Pre-Ballet
      and Primary     exam students do not need ribbons. However, Grade 1 and 2 students
      need ribbons and they should be properly tied and tucked in so as to avoid any
      incidence of them unravelling during the actual exam.
  • Props:Students appearing for Pre-Ballet examination are required to carry a small
       teddy-bear with   them, and students appearing for Primary examination are required
       to carry a small basket. These   props are required for them to execute their character dance.

Exam Protocol

The examiner shall ring a bell, which will mean that the next batch of students should enter the exam room. The ballerinas should run into the studio smartly with their heads held high. They should greet the examiner warmly. A “Good Morning/Afternoon/Evening” with a bright smile shall suffice. Then the students should proceed to perform the exercises as required by the examiner. While performing, the student should respect the examiner’s space not encroach upon it.

The students should perform in the chronological order of their roll-numbers only.

After the exam concludes, the student should do her curtsy bow as a gesture of respect to the examiners, then proceed to thank the person in-charge of the music, and then run out smartly from the studio. Demonstrating confidence throughout the interaction is the key.

In the Grade 2 examinations, the examiner shall test the ballerina’s knowledge by setting an exercise on the spot, which is then required to be performed by the ballerina. In case, the student is confused in regards to what is expected from her there, we encourage her to get it clarified from the examiner, so as to avoid making a mistake which could be potentially avoided.

Concluding Remarks

Exams at LDAB are meant to be enjoyed and it’s important that the student has fun throughout the whole process. The abovementioned pointers will ensure that the student is well-prepared and presentable on exam day. This in turn shall take care of any anxiety issues one might face before the exams. We want this entire process to be a comfortable one.

And the most important rule: Always smile. No serious faces allowed. There’s a provision for extra marks for a beautiful smile!