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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.