We come into this world not without a purpose. While some of us spend a lifetime understanding what our purpose is, a few of us know our calling very early in life. Our August Ballerina of the Month knew that she was a dancer before she even knew how to spell dance! Join us in congratulating Vrindha Ashok – our August Ballerina of the Month 2021.
Dancer, model and a
movie-buff- these are only a few of the many aspects of Vrindha’s beautiful
personality. But a few minutes of conversations with Vrindha and one
understands that her love for dance far precedes any other interests that she
may have. Vrindha started dancing at a tender age of 4. She has trained in
Bollywood, hip hop, contemporary, Bharatnatyam and now Classical Ballet. Dance
has been a major part of her upbringing – her mother and her grandmother both
being trained professionally in the Indian Classical Dance forms. Vrindha
however never really connected to Bharatnatyam and always found a desire to
learn the beautiful classical ballet. It was only when she was 16 that her
search ended, when one of her friends informed her about a ballet performance
by LDAB at St Mira’s TedX performance. She couldn’t wait to start her training
at LDAB after watching the LDAB students on stage. She could now see her dream
of performing en pointe in front of 100s of people finally come to fruition.
Vrindha’s initial training at LDAB started with Ms Parand. After graduating from the foundation level of ballet training at LDAB, she was moved to Ms Neha’s batch and was being prepared to take her first ever ballet examination.
“I love both the teachers I have been with! They both have a special place in my heart. Ms Parand’s classes were great fun, and so have Ms Neha’s.” says Vrindha.
She fondly recalls the time when she sent a message to Ms Parand a day before her ballet examination, confessing that she was quite nervous. In response Ms Parand sent her a long voice note telling her how she has no reason to be nervous, and that she is a very graceful dancer, and that is precisely what the examiner will also feel about her. The day of her examination she remembers being nervous outside the exam studio, and Ms Neha saying calming and encouraging words to her, trying to keep her spirits up. “I guess that was really needed, and certainly helped me in my performance in the examination” says Vrindha.
Vrindha with her ballet buddies Ira and Urishita
Vrindha loves being part of LDAB and has some amazing friends in her ballet classes. She is especially close to a few like Tiara, Ira and Urishita. When Ira and Vrindha meet there is less words and more laughter. She really looks up to Ms Neha and has a beautiful connection with her.
“I love everything about Ms Neha! She is very supportive and kind. I have never hesitated in telling her where I want to be in my ballet journey, and she chalked out a beautiful plan for me.” says Vrindha.
She is training under Ms Neha’s Intensive Program which requires her to dance for almost 5 hours every week. Though strenuous, Vrindha is really enjoying her training and can’t wait to give her pre-pointe examination soon.
The lock-down brought
an interesting opportunity in Vrindha’s life. While colleges and schools were
still getting used to the new system of online education, Vrindha suddenly
found a lot of time in her hands. She chanced upon a Virtual Modelling Pageant
and decided to give it a try. She was quite surprised and elated to be crowned
as the 1st Runner Up of the Virtual Elite. This just opened up an
array of prospects. Fashion week Delhi, photoshoots
for some of the most elite designers of the country, music video shoots – these
are only a few of the many feathers in the cap of this budding star.
Vrindha is a budding model and a star in the making
Vrindha however is not swayed by this fame and glamorous new
life, and still has her eyes on her goal – performing en pointe. She invests
hours into her in-studio and self practices. When not dancing, she watches
videos of ballerinas executing some graceful variations. “Dance is one of the
most beautiful ways of expressing one’s emotions. Anger, jealously, love, joy…
everything that one feels can be portrayed beautifully through dance. I love
that!” Vrindha eventually sees herself making a career in performing arts.
Vrindha derives her strength and motivation from two very strong women in her life – her mother and her grandmother. Having a professional dance training background themselves, they relate to Vrindha’s passion and dedication towards dance, and have never shied away from extending all the support and encouragement needed in her dance journey. “ The only time they seem a little annoyed is when I am not available for coffee and conversations because I am in class or practising”
Ms Neha has amazing things to say about Vrindha.
“Vrindha is not only a very beautiful dancer, but is also a very beautiful person. She has never shied away from helping out in the Academy. I feel very blessed to be part of her amazing journey. Whenever I have needed any support or help in the Academy, Vrindha has never hesitated in dropping things, cancelling plans and being there! I know she is made for big things, and what we are currently witnessing in her life is only a preview of the bigger things that is in store for her.”
We are eagerly waiting for Ms Neha’s words to come true, and wish Vrindha great success in all her endeavours!
There is always something positive that emerges out of a negative situation. In 2020 when the world went into an unknown territory called “Lockdown”, and when LDAB started online ballet classes for its students, this seemed as a wonderful opportunity for those who had relocated and consequentially had to unwittingly halt their ballet journey. One such student was Tehya Anand who had no choice but to pause her ballet education when her father was posted toMumbai in 2020. But when the online ballet classes were launched by LDAB, Tehya was one of the first ones to enrol. A year later, here we are congratulating this young and dedicated ballet student for having won the title of Ballerina of the Month for July 2021.
Tehya Anand, the eldest of the two daughters of RubalaRajam and Lt. Cdr. R. Anand was 2 when she first watched a YouTube video of a ballerina that caught her attention. Five years later at age 7 she still found herself attracted to this beautiful dance form and formed a mental image of herself on stage dancing gracefully en pointe. That is when her family found LDAB. In her first few ballet classes with Ms Neha she showed tremendous potential and caught Ms Neha’s attention. “She has always been a fast learner. Its very rare when I enter students for examinations in the first year of their ballet training, but Tehya was a natural!” says Ms Neha
Tehya has been learning ballet at LDAB for the last 3 years now. Although there was a brief period when she was not able to pursue ballet because of her dad being posted out of Pune, Tehya has been very consistent and diligent in her classes. The family has shifted twice since, and Tehya has managed to attend her online ballet classes even though they were still shifting luggage in their house! Her dedication has been a great motivation to everyone in her batch. Her mother Mrs Rubala tells us that they have never had to push Tehya to attend her classes. She remembers her dance schedule very well, and looks forward to every class as if its her first class. “Sometimes we catch her pointing her toes and doing her ballet leg lifts while watching TV!” says Mrs Rubala.
Tehya has a younger sister Ophya who is 5 now and is ready to follow her sister’s footsteps. While Tehya is a quiet and reserved girl, Ophya is the more chirpy one. Tehya and Ophya share a beautiful relationship, and Tehya says she is very close to her young sibling.She makes a guest appearance at times in the online classes and has become a favourite of everyone.
Mr Anand and Mrs Rubala are very supportive of all that Tehya and Ophya wish to pursue. When Tehya showed her inclination towards ballet, her parents were quick to research ballet schools in Pune and enrol her. On being asked about her thoughts on Tehya’s dedication towards ballet, Mrs Anand mentions that she and her husband will do absolutely anything to ensure that Tehya gets all the opportunities to pursue all that she loves. “We have tried to be supportive in all her endeavours and we will do our best to ensure she goes a long way. Rest of course is between her and her ballet teacher.” Says Mrs Rubala.
Tehya is also learning Contemporary Dance at LDAB and absolutely enjoys this new form of dance. While ballet requires the dancer to engage every muscle of their bodies, contemporary is more freeing, and Tehya enjoys this contrast. In addition to dancing, she is also pursuing gymnastics. She is an avid reader, and some of her favourite books include the Harry Potter series and the Diary of a Wimpy Kid.
We asked Tehya about some ballerinas that inspire Tehya and she was quick to say – Ms Neha. “I can very confidently say Ms Neha is the best ballet teacher in the world. When she gives me corrections in my technique, she is not critical. She always tells me that I am doing good, but if I do something in a certain other way I will get better. I want to someday be as graceful as her.” In addition to Ms Neha, Tehya is also awed by Misty Copeland – Principal Dancer with ABT.
Ms Neha has much to say about this young and talented ballerina-to-be. “Tehya is one of my most dedicated and hard-working students. She is a quick learner, and has very intelligent questions for me whenever I teach something new in class. What really stands out about her is her graceful demeanour. I can see her growing up to be a beautiful dancer who will inspire young girls to dance.” We can’t wait for Ms Neha’s words to come true and wish Tehya a beautiful journey and wonderful experiences ahead.
The year 2020 was a strange one; we were faced with times that no one ever imagined we would witness. Towards the end of 2020 there was a ray of light- we could see the end to the gloomy times. However, 2021 came with the second wave of the COVID 19 pandemic which hit India very hard and we were back in our homes, waiting. When we face times like these, how does one stay motivated to pursue what they believe in every single day? Let’s find out from the ballerina of the month for May 2021 – Mayra Sanghvi.
Mayra has been learning classical ballet at LDAB since 2 years now, and in a short time has grown tremendously in technique and quality. She was 10 when she took her first ballet class at the camp studio of LDAB with Ms Neha. A few classes, and she was hooked to the discipline and the hard work that this dance form required. She was not sure what this journey was going to be like, but she put her trust in Ms Neha, and ever since has not missed any session. The experience of ballet examinations, hours and hours of practice before a show, working on minute details such as foot position, performing on stage in front of thousands of people, Mayra did not know that this is how the life of a ballet student would be.
Mayra has always enjoyed dancing. Before ballet she waslearning contemporary dance and hip hop. Through a few friends who were students at LDAB, Mayra found out about the Academy and Ms Neha. Ms Neha’s kindness, in-depth knowledge of ballet and her teaching skills put a lasting impression on Mayra. She sees herself going a long way with this dance form,and knows that small steps will get her closer to her goal.
Misty Copeland is one dancer Mayra draws her inspiration from. She likes how Misty is not one of the typical lean ballet dancers. Misty’s strong and muscular body and her grand allegro jumpshave shaped Mayra’s ballet goals. In addition to the 2 ballet classes in a week, she tries to put in self-practice time focusing on exercises for muscle strength and stamina building. Her mother, who has been practising yoga for 6 years also motivates her to incorporate workouts and physical activities during her week.
The lock-down was especially difficult for kids, who were forced to sit at home and have no social life. We asked Mayra about her experience of taking ballet lessons from home. Mayra immediately replied saying that taking a break from ballet was no option for her. By the time the lockdown happened, she was too deep in love with ballet, and was quite determined to pursue this with all her heart. “What also helped was Ms Neha’s amazing teaching skills even though she was physically not present with us. In a very short time, we got quite comfortable with the online classes. Ms Neha also pulled in other teachers like Ms Sophie and Ms Anamika, and it became more personal. I like how each one of us get corrections during the classes, I like the way the home works are given and are checked regularly. The home works especially gives me something to work on throughout the week.”
Mayra misses the studio lessons and is eagerly waiting to being back with her friends and her teachers (and Ms Neha’s cat Oreo who is a big part of Team LDAB). Mayra has two special ballet friends – Mishti and Nyassa. She remembers fondly how the three of them would come to the studio a few minutes before their class to just catch up and talk to Ms Neha and play with Oreo. Before the lockdown the trio would meet at each other’s houses to practice ballet. She laughs about how she and Mishti would try to push Nyassa to practice with them, who is quite playful. She also recalls a funny incident where during class she almost hit Ms Anamika, trying to do a massive leg lift. While she waits to be back in the studio, she has found a ballet buddy – her cousin Piya who is also pursuing ballet in Mumbai and is currently in Grade V level. Mayra and Pia practice ballet as often as they can. Pia’s influence on Mayra has been significant, and probably one of the reasons why her technique has also shown an upward trend.
Mayra’s family has always encouraged her to pursue all that she wants to try. This has been a very big factor in shaping her personality. In addition to ballet, Mayra is also learning the piano for the last 2 years and absolutely loves it. Her piano lessons and knowledge helps her connect with the music played in the ballet class. One of the important elements as a dancer is to be musical, and that is taken care of with her piano education. “Whenever I learn a new piece on the piano I try to understand which ballet steps or exercises will best suit this piece “ says Mayra, showing us how she makes intelligent connections between her ballet and piano lessons.
Mayra shares a beautiful bond with her brother Tanish Sanghvi. He has been a great source of encouragement in Mayra’s life, and is her biggest support and appraiser. She recalls her hilarious experience of trying to teach a ballet choreography to her brother during the lockdown in 2020. We asked Mayra’s mother about whether this shy ballerina has a different side to herself at home, and her mother is quick to tell us that she is not at all the introvert and the soft spoken ballerina at home. “She is very talkative and playful, so much so that sometimes we have seen her get tired after a long recourse. We absolutely love this side of hers.”
Mayra is very inspired by her teacher Ms Neha. She especially enjoys when Ms Neha shares about her ballet journey with the class. It makes her feel closer to her teacher. When asked what is the one thing that stands out for her about Ms Neha, she is quick to reply – “Ms Neha’s kindness. She is strict, but even when she has to be strict she is very polite and kind.” Ms Neha also speaks very highly of this budding ballerina. “During the lockdown we as teachers have had very limited ways of helping the students get better in their technique. But Mayra has demonstrated that nothing is impossible if you are determined. Her determination and her patience is something I would like my students to pick up from Mayra. She is very strong in her technique and knowledge of ballet, and I see her reach great heights with the strong mind she has.”
We wish that Ms Neha’s words come to pass, and wish Mayra a great future in ballet.
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!