Ballerina of the month – July 2019

Ballerina of the month – July 2019

The rains this year have decided to play hide and seek with us. Some days, they’ve lashed the city with all their might and on others, it feels like a sunny afternoon in the month of May. However, we here at LDAB, pride ourselves in our punctuality and are exhilarated to set the spotlight of one of our star students who has been crowned ”Ballerina of the Month: July 2019”

Saanvi with her brother and her parents

Saanvi Desai, 9, has been with LDAB for almost a year and half now. A student of the prestigious St. Mary’s, Saanvi is the younger child of Mrunal and Milind Desai. Mrunal is a jewelry designer and owns her own label, Maanvi Jewels. Milind is a software engineer and works at Tech Mahindra. Her older brother, Pratham, is a 15-year old studying at Bishop’s School in Pune.

Saanvi is very fond of dancing. In addition to ballet, she is pursuing Kathak

When quizzed about how Saanvi got involved with ballet, Mrunal excitedly talks about her daughter’s love for dance, ”Saanvi has always been a dancer. She excels at Bollywood contemporary. She has also studied Kathak. She recently received her Level 1 Certificate in this classical dance form. One of her good friends was learning ballet at LDAB and her curiosity for this western dance form got her started with LDAB.”

Saanvi’s has a variety of other interests beyond dance. She’s a voracious reader, Harry Potter is her favourite book series while Enid Blyton is her favourite author. She has also started training to become a serious badminton player. She’ll be playing next month at Deccan Gymkhana’s tournaments.

Saanvi after her breath-taking performance in the Nutcracker 2019

We chat more with Mrunal about Saanvi and she lights up like a proud parent while talking about her daughter, “Saanvi has the personality of an extrovert. She can strike up a conversation with you on any topic and keep you engrossed throughout. She never had any stage fright and that was very evident when she performed with grace & enthusiasm in the Annual functions at school and also in our housing society. When I saw her perform in the Nutcracker ballet concert arranged by LDAB, I was mesmerized by the whole act. Watching her perform that day on stage, while I sat in the audience with many of my relatives, will remain a proud moment for me.”

Saanvi in class.

But she also has a funny tid-bit to add, ”Saanvi is a very meticulous person. She won’t miss a single ballet session at LDAB. This leaves us as a family with no scope to plan weekend outings or vacations at all.”

Saanvi with her mom Mrunal

As always, we are also interested in the parenting philosophies of the parents of our star ballerinas. Giving her take, Mrunal says, “Parenting is a process where I’m always on my toes, still learning. I’m a mom to a 15 year-old teen boy and also to a pre-teen girl. Bringing them up have been two very contrasting experiences and I wouldn’t really call myself an expert, I’m still a student and I like it this way!”

Our Creative Director, Neha Suhjani, has solid observations on her pupil, ‘Saanvi is sharp and her performances are always graceful. She is someone who takes any challenge head on. She is relentless and rests only when she’s mastered the choreography. I am really happy that she has been chosen to perform at the CSTD concert in Singapore in September 2019. She is going to be performing a solo variation from Esmerelda. The choreography is amongst the toughest, but this has unsurprisingly been a motivating factor for Saanvi, given her quest for perfection.”

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.



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.



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”



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.”