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“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!