Lockdown, pandemic or overseas trips – no reason is good enough to take a break from what you love. And this is what Sana Baig believes and lives. Please join us in congratulating our April Ballerina of the Month – Sana Baig.
Sana, a 9 year old ballet student with LDAB is one of the 3 kids of Mr Cini Baig and Mrs Lisa Baig. Inspired by her older sister Sophia, Sana started training in Classical Ballet at the age of 5. Sophia and Sana have been dancing partners ever since. Working together for ballet examinations, choreographing dances for Christmas performances, school and Church events – ballet became one of the ways the sisters bond. When asked if their older brother Roshan has ever shown interest in ballet, Sana is prompt in replying. “Never. But he has always been a great support in all that I do.”
Sana is a girl of few words. The youngest of the 3 siblings, Sana has grown up being the centre of everyone’s love. We asked her family to tell us a little about Sana’s personality. Her sister Sophia describes her as a caring and a sweet person, who cannot watch anyone being upset, and will do all that she can to cheer someone up. She is also the peacemaker in the family, and tries her best to resolve a conflict between her older siblings.
Sana is currently in Grade VI in school. In addition to ballet, she enjoys horse riding, crocheting and writing stories. She follows a very balanced routine, where she finishes her school work every day by noon, and spends her evenings doing the things she loves – like her ballet practice, or story writing. Although her horse riding lessons have been paused due to the lockdown, she loves this activity and has a beautiful bond with the horses. She recalls a funny instance, where she was in a competition called Jalebi. The competitors are required to ride the horse to a certain place, eat a jalebi and proceed towards the finish line. When Sana reached her Jalebi, her horse also started snacking on it, and it was then hard to pull him back into the race.
Mr and Mrs Baig believe in open and honest communication with their children. They try to understand each child’s passion and interests, and try to be as supportive and encouraging as they can. Mrs Baig has been a ballet mom ever since her older daughter Sophia started ballet, which was as young as 5. She is familiar with various brands of leotards, different types of ballet shoes, various ballet accessories etc. She always knows what ballet gifts to buy for her ballerina daughters. When asked how ballet has brought a change in Sana’s lifestyle, she mentions that it has certainly given Sana a boost in confidence. It brings more discipline and focus in her life. Sana also enjoys the social aspects of her ballet class. Although the students of LDAB have not been able to meet for the classes, they log in early for the online lessons so they can connect and socialize with each other. Sana relishes these interactions, and makes it a point to always log in on time every class.
Ms Neha speaks very highly of Sana. “This form of dance requires commitment and discipline. Sana has always been a model student, with almost 100% attendance and attentiveness in class.” She even recalls the time when the family was travelling to the USA last year. After almost 6 months of doing ballet at home through the online forum, Sana and Sophia were thrilled to do their jumps and leaps across the airport which provided ample space for their ballet practice.
Sana has really grown as a ballet dancer since she started lessons with LDAB. Sana really appreciates how Ms Neha is very detail-oriented and pushes them to execute the right technique. The LDAB Nutcracker Concert in 2019 made a big impact in Sana’s ballet life. She enjoyed all the preparation towards the big day, and was thrilled to see some of the other dance performances such as the Russian Dance. When asked what are her ballet goals, Sana is quick to reply in 3 words – “Going en pointe!” We wish Sana a beautiful journey towards achieving this goal and congratulate her for her achievement
“Be strong, be fearless, be beautiful and believe that everything is possible when you have the right people to support you.”- Famous words by the legendary ballet icon Misty Copeland who not so surprisingly, also happens to be our Ballerina of the Month Anushka’s role model and icon. These words are so reflective of Anushka’s Ballet journey so far as her strength, her fearlessness and the beauty of her persona have all made her a promising ballerina in her short time of doing ballet.
Anushka started her ballet journey with LDAB in January 2019 under the tutelage of Miss Neha. Deriving inspiration from different corners of the world such as her cousin sister who is an established Ballet dancer in the UK, her school friends who already were associated with LDAB or the world of Internet videos where she got to saw the likes of Misty Copeland, Diana Vishneva etc gracefully performing the intense ballet moves and making them look so easy. The choice was easy for her- It was going to be ballet and it was of course “coup de foudre” when she took the first trial class with Miss Neha.
Anushka since that day has accomplished a lot.She achieved a ‘Distinction’ in her Grade 1 ISTD examination and an ‘Honours Plus’ in the CSTD Grade 1 examination – the highest grades awarded in the respective examinations. The year 2020 was particularly challenging for the entire world, but that did not hold back our 11 year old budding ballerina from continuing thepursuit of her passion. She hardly missed any online classes and trained rigorously throughout the lockdown period. She even mentioned that there were several challenges during this period such as poor internet connectivity etc, but still she did not shy away to put all her efforts in learning even if it meant just taking notes at times when the video connection was spotty. Such is the dedication of Anushka which has won her the praise of many at LDAB.
Anushka is an avid reader- She exclaims that she has a huge Book shelf which includes her favourites such as the writings of Roald Dahl, The Land of stories, the entire Harry Potter series and to maintain equipoise with all the fiction these books offer, she also engages herself in literary works by Sudha Murthy. While growing up, Anushka also indulged in Cartoons and her favourite one was Oswald. A character in that show that most resembled the free spiritedness and the energy of Anushka was that of ‘Daisy’, a close friend of Oswald. Eventually, because of the strong congruity between Anushka and Daisy. Anushka’s elder brother Aditya nick named her Daisy and the family members still lovingly call her by the name.
One of Anushka’s strong suits and her very first sport right from the time when she was young was Swimming. She started it very early on during her days in the US and went on to excel in it. It was a stringent routine and practicing in the frigid winters especially at night times was a commendable feat for a young kid. She was also a part of the Swimming club in Pune and did amazingly well and won many accolades. Her school- St Mary’s- Pune, also had a significant role in getting Anushka a spot in the ‘Swimming Gala’. But, as Ballet was about to begin, Anushka and her parents realized that managing both swimming and Ballet would take a heavy toll on her body and to focus on ballet she had to make a conscious choice to discontinue swimming.
Anushka is a massive Animal lover and a very strong and recent display of her perseverance was when she wanted to adopt a dog during the lockdown period. The family brought home Maya, their puppy and soon enough she became part of the Nagarkar clan. Mr. and Mrs. Nagarkar also explained that Anushka does not only love Maya profoundly, but she also takes full responsibility of her and has even taught her a plethora of amazing tricks. Anushka is also fond of the newest team member of LDAB – Oreo the Kitten.
A ‘perseverant perfectionist’ is another fitting description for Anushka as not just in ballet, she also seeks perfection and practices perseverance in her daily life.Her parents point out that she is so disciplined in her other works that whenever they are planning to go somewhere, her bag is packed at least one week prior to the date of departure and everything is all neatly organized. Her birthdays are planned one year in advance! Furthermore, Mrs Nagarkar reinforces this by adding that they call her the ‘Finder of the house’- the go-to person in case anyone loses anything.
Sometimes, choices can be difficult especially when they are between two things which are the closest to your heart- One such difficult decision of choosing ballet over violin had to be recently made. Anushka’s love and inspiration for violin comes from her grandfather who played the Indian violin. She is trained in the ‘Suzuki Style’ of Violin in which Mr. Nagarkar has a big role to play as this particular form requires him to stay with her during the entirety of the class and lend her a helping hand. Her teacher who happens to be one of the best violin teachers guides both of them through it. Mr. Nagarkar has also taken a liking towards the art and himself practices the violin in his leisure time. Currently, Anushka is in ‘Book 3’ of violin and has done several concerts in the past. She recollects her first concert for ‘Book 1’ where she had to perform a solo piece and that feeling was similar to her Ballet Grade 1 exam as she was nervous because there were hundreds of people in the audience. However, as she progressed in the higher grades in Ballet there came a time when the timings of her Ballet lessons and violin lessons clashed. She was facing a hard decision of either going ahead with her passion for ballet or her love for violin. She decided to go slow with her violin training and expand her horizons in the field of ballet. This decision moved Ms Neha tremendously who has been quoting Anushka’s example in almost all of her classes.
Upon asking about her aspirations, career choice and what she wants to become when she grows up, Anushka without any hesitation and a bright smile on her face exclaimed that she wants to be a Ballet teacher just like Miss Neha. She wishes to pass on all the knowledge and techniques that she is learning to other kids who wish to join ballet. A close second option is also joining a Ballet company overseas such as the prestigious ‘New York Ballet’ and walking in the footsteps of her idol Misty Copeland. She remembers reading about her when she was reading a book called the ‘Good night stories for Rebel girls’ . In the book Misty speaks about an incident wherein she had hurt her foot mid-performance but with a smile on her face finished the performance. This is the kind of courage, grit and determination that inspires Anushka.Ms Neha has played the most important role in inculcating this sense of confidence and resilience in Anushka. Anushka says that Ms Neha is a great source of positivity, fun and excitement but, when needed, she is also quite strict.Mr. and Mrs. Nagarkar praise Miss Neha’s dedication and personal involvement immensely. They also speak in admiration about her teaching style and how she just becomes like the students herself when she is in the studio and makes them comfortable and lets them enjoy the class while constantly inspiring them.
Support from the family is one of the key factors when pursuing anything in life. Anushka considers herself to be lucky to have great support from her family. She says that her mom and dad have helped her and supported her in everything she wanted to pursue -Swimming, Violin or Ballet. The amazing teamwork her Mom and Dad display when it comes to managing her Ballet class, her and her brother’s extracurricular activities, their schools and their respective professional commitments is something Anushka is quite grateful about.
One of the qualities of her dad that Anushka loves is his quick humour. She loves her post studio lessons routine of visiting her favourite kebab place with her Dad.She admires her Mom’s commitment towards taking care of the family and all their needs while constantly juggling her work. Mrs. Nagarkar also states that working from home was also a conscious choice to enable her to be more flexible to look after the children and to devote more time towards their upbringing and development. Anushka also tells us about the time during the online Ballet classes where they had to involve a family member and how she made Aditya-her elder brother dance with her and taught him some fun ballet moves.
Miss Neha speaks very highly of Anushka and described her as someone who puts her heart into every class. Her dedication and commitment not only motivates Ms Neha as a teacher but has also been an inspiration to other students. She also added that Anushka showed tremendous potetial while in the Beginner Grade 2 level, which did not go unnoticed. Ms Neha decided to up Anushka’s training and put her in the examinations in the 1st year of her Grade 2 training itself.Anushka is eagerly awaiting her results for the same and has started her training in the Grade 3 level. Ms Neha also adds that the strong technique that Anushka is displaying so early on in her ballet training has encouraged her to put Anushka in the prestigious ‘Competition Batch’ – a batch where the students are handpicked by Ms Neha to participate in the International Ballet Competitions and later pursue their professional journey in Classical Ballet. Ms Neha also recognizes the determination and commitment Anushka is willing to put in her training, as the training for the Competition requires tremendous amount of hard work and dedication. One has to rigorously train for 5 days of the week which very well can be a daunting regimen to follow. Finally, Neha miss passionately stated that “Anushka exemplifies the kind of students that motivate her to work harder in training them”. Ms Neha confidently enunciated that Anushka has a lot of potential and will do amazing things in her Ballet career.
LDAB congratulates Anushka for her relentless efforts and outstanding achievements so far and wishes the best for all her future endeavours in ballet and life!
When we think of Ballet, we picture a beautiful and graceful girl in tutu dancing on the tip of her toes to a soothing piano music. However, ballet is not only for girls and this is exemplified by ShubhangSakpal of LDAB – The Ballerino of the Month.
Shubhang has been training at LDAB for over two years. His initial training started with MsParand (Senior Assistant Teacher at LDAB), and later his training progressed under Ms Neha (Artistic Director, LDAB). Prior to lockdown Ms Neha had conveyed to him that his technique is fantastic, and that he will be giving his CSTD Examinations in 2020 not for Grade I level, but for Grade II level. This news brought him tremendous joy, but was short-lived as the whole nation went into a lockdown in March 2020. After a few weeks of uncertainty, when he heard that Ms Neha will continue the ballet lessons online, Shubhang was one of the first ones to enroll for the Online Training Program. Thereafter there was no stopping him. Technical issues, poor connectivity, bad flooring, nothing kept him from logging into every online lesson. He managed to have 100% attendance throughout the lockdown.
In November 2020 Shubhang appeared for his first ever ballet examination. It was special in a lot of ways. Not only was this the first time he was demonstrating his ballet technique before an international dance faculty, he was going to be part of history! Where most ballet schools cancelled ballet examinations in light of the pandemic, LDAB was the Only Ballet School in India which was providing this opportunity to its students through Live Stream Examination. And Shubhang was thrilled to be part of it!
Shubhang is a dancer in the true sense. He is trained under various dance forms such as Hip-Hop, Contemporary and Bollywood. He lives dance! In addition to Classical Ballet he has also started training in Indian Classical Dance form – Kathak because it will help him become a better dancer.
Ms Neha is in awe with Shubhang’s dedication. She recollects a discussion she had had with him where he was so passionate about improving his technique that he decided to do a certain exercise 50 times a day! Ms Neha had to tell him not to be too hard on himself and to enjoy the journey of becoming a ballet dancer. “I have noticed how his passion rubs off on others around him. When he comes to the studio, he immediately starts his warm up and stretches, without wasting time. The other students in his batch see his seriousness and also follow his lead. I see him going places if he continues his ballet training the way he is currently!” says Ms Neha
Outside of the ballet studio, Shubhang is an introvert. His favourite topic of discussion is dance (no prize for guessing!) He has various future plans and all are connected to dance. Professional dancer, Ballet teacher, Dance Therapist, these are only a few of the various goals he has set for himself. We wish this extremely talented and inspiring ballerino great success for his future.
Music and dance, together they are like lovers who understand each other, like playful siblings who build beautiful things together and like best friends who have their own personality yet create magic when they come together. Music and dance are like hot chocolate and marshmallows, a beautiful combination, a little incomplete without one another while being the perfect recipe for comfort. Ballet and violin are the hot chocolate and marshmallow in our 8 year old ballerina of the month, Ritika’s life.
At a young age of 3, Ritika started her ballet training under the tutelage of Miss Neha. Ms Neha recalls how the wide-eyed Ritika entered the ballet class for the first time in her pretty pink tutu dress, and immediately won her heart with her curiosity and sharp mind.
Ritika’s journey with LDAB has since been full of new adventures. She has been a part of two LDAB stage shows, ‘Once upon a time’ , where she performed a duet with Tisha Rathi, and ‘The Nutcracker’ where she was one of the Spanish Dancers. She has also been a part of the CSTD International Competition 2019, Singapore. It was an amazing experience for Ritika, and her display of confidence and grace on stage was inspiring. When asked about her favourite part about LDAB, Ritika was quick to mention Miss Neha while the ballet exercises conducted by Miss Neha were a close second. Ritika wrote an essay on miss Neha when she was asked to write about her favourite teacher.
Ritika is a 3rd grade student of Abhinav Vidyalay English Medium Primary School. Since the age of 2, Ritika has been learning Violin. Her best-loved piece is the Bourrée.She has just graduated her Book 3 in July 2020 and is one of the youngest violinist to pass this exam. Ritika also appeared for the Grade 3 exam of the Royal School of London last year and has passed with distinction. She got an opportunity to go to the NCPA Mumbai for the high scorers’ concert. In addition to this, Ritika has won numerous accolades. Ritika spends most of her time perfecting the violin and ballet combinations. In addition to this, Ritika is also an avid reader and loves reading the works of Sudha Murty among other authors. ‘Grandma’s Bag of Stories’ is one of her most favourite reads. Ritika likes playing badminton as well. Another feather in Ritika’s cap is the language Japanese which she has been learning since a few years now.
When asked about Ritika, Miss Neha said that Ritika is the brain of Grade 1. “When Ritika walked in the ballet class for the first time, she came in with her big, gleaming eyes and was extremely keen to learn from the very first day. Ritika initially walked in a class with older students, but was not intimidated even a bit. Since day one, she showed great potential and has always been very quick in picking up new and challenging exercises. I call her the brain of Grade 1 class as she remembers tough ballet combinations and executes them without getting confused.” exclaimed Miss Neha. “Her performance at the CSTD competition was fabulous. She was not at all nervous facing the audience and performed the whole piece with grace and a smile on her face. It is a delight watching Ritika perform.” added Miss Neha.
During the lockdown, Ritika has made sure to utilize her time by practicing ballet, violin, reading books as well as doodling. In addition to these, Ritika also took up some new activities. She learnt stitching from her grandmother and helped her mother, in the kitchen, in making chapatis. Ritika has an elder sister Gayatri and is fond of drawing and reading books with her.
Ritika is a very fun-loving, caring and compassionate person. She is highly organized and is very focus driven. Even in school, Ritika has bagged numerous awards such as the ‘General Proficiency’ award and the ‘Best Handwriting’ award. When asked about her ballet journey, Ritika’s mother, Ms. Mugdha said “It has been a delightful journey since the get go. The progress Ritika has made under Miss Neha’s guidance has truly been commendable. We can observe the change in her posture and the elegance that ballet has brought in Ritika.”
Ballet has been an important part of Ritika’s life and she wants to pursue it in the future as well. We would like to wish Ritika all the very best for her future!
We all have a close friend who has been a part of our lives since the time we can’t even remember. A friend who has been with us through thick and thin. A friend who makes us smile when we are low and tells us stories to lift our mood. A friend who helps us grow and never leaves our side no matter what. The Ballerina of the Month Prisha Ambi’s best friends are her books.
Eight year old Prisha has been learning ballet under miss Neha’s tutelage from the past 3 years. Her fondness for ballet began after watching a movie, soon after which Prisha began her training and fell in love with it. Currently, Prisha is in grade 1 and will be appearing for her CSTD exam coming November. She dedicates time for her training everyday and enjoys practicing different combinations.
Prisha, who is a 3rd grade student at Euro School, has been quite busy during the quarantine. Not only has she been attending her school and ballet classes online, Prisha has also taken up a course in communication from Trinity College, London. When asked about what she likes doing in her free time other than her ballet practice, Prisha was quite quick to exclaim “I read books, books, and more books”. Her favourite novel is ‘Out of My Mind’ by Sharon M. Draper. In spite of not being able to go out, Prisha likes to do some skating once in a while, which is also one of her hobbies.
Till date, Prisha has been a part of two stage shows, ‘The Nutcracker’ and ‘Children’s Gallop’ and is excited to be a part of the upcoming ‘Sugar Plum Fairy’ performance. When asked about Prisha, Miss Neha said “She is very passionate and hard working. Even during online classes, Prisha’s level of enthusiasm is with par with that in the studio. She is very dedicated, and a lot of credit goes to her mom. Her mom really motivates her and encourages her.”
Prisha, who loves her words just as much as ballet, doesn’t miss out on any opportunity in unifying the two. While speaking to Mrs. Ambi about Prisha’s ballet journey, she mentioned how Prisha started mirroring the moves which she saw in a movie and that’s when Mrs. Ambi decided to enrol Prisha for professional training. “Prisha is a very dedicated girl and gives her hundred percent in whatever she does. What I like about her the most is her fun and carefree nature.” Added Mrs. Ambi.
Prisha always dreamt of becoming a ballerina and being awarded the ‘Ballerina of the Month’s title, she feels one step closer to her goal. We wish her the best of luck for her future!