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Kamal Singh didn’t even know what ballet was when he showed up impatiently at the Imperial Fernando Ballet School in Delhi in the summer of 2016. However, 17-year-old Noddy, whose father was a rickshaw driver. It was modified by ballet dancers in a Bollywood movie, so I wanted to try it myself.

Four years at Singh is now one of the first Indian students to enter the British National Ballet School. He started this week.

Tuition and cost of living in London totaling $20,000 was out of the reach of the Singhs family, but a crowdfunding campaign backed by some Bollywood celebrities raised all the necessary funds in less than two weeks.

I can’t explain what it feels like. All my dreams have come true, said Singh, 21. My family doesn’t know much about ballet, but I am very happy and proud that I am at the British National Ballet. I am the first person in my family to come to London.

When Fernando Aguilera, a teacher, mentor and founder of the Delhi school where he danced, first met Singh, he was amazed by the boys’ natural gifts.

Aguilera from Argentina said: He was completely flexible like rubber. He had a ready-made body for the ballet by God, all he had to do was learn how to use it.

Singh told Aguilera that he desperately wanted to continue classes, but couldn’t afford the cost of 3,500 rupees (37) per month. At that moment my heart shattered. I told him to come back tomorrow. I will not charge you. Come because I want to keep seeing you in class.

After Singhs second class, Aguilera said that he realized that the boy had received a real gift, even though he didn’t know it. He later took Singh as a full-time student on a scholarship, paid lunch and transportation to school, and traveled from the boy’s house for two and a half hours.

Singh had never heard classical music or piano before his first lesson, but with Aguileras private lessons he learned not only ballet, but the basics of music reading, the stories of famous ballet dancers, and all the stories of great ballet such as the Swan. Lake, Romeo and Juliet, Giselle. He studied at school for 10 to 12 hours every day.

Aguilera said: He was very dedicated, worked very hard and wanted to learn. I taught him for 4 years and he didn’t ask for a break and never missed a day.

Passion for Dance: Kamal Singh, left. Photo: Imperial Fernando Ballet

He also made Singh and his family realize that there is a future for ballet. He let me watch videos of professional ballet dancers, taught me that it could be a job like a doctor or engineer, and my father also met and explained. After that, my dad allowed me to study full time.

With the support of Aguileras, Singh went to Russia in 2019 to participate in a prestigious summer ballet course. He got a scholarship to return this year, but the Covid-19 pandemic broke and everything was cancelled.

As the opportunity seemed to disappear, an advertisement on Instagram said London’s English National Ballet was looking for male dancers. So Singh applied.

In September, an acceptance email arrived in my Aguileras inbox. I read this email seven times and I couldn’t believe it, Aguilera said. I translated it into Spanish to make sure you are reading it correctly. And I started crying.

Singhs’ first response was a teacher I don’t think so. Read the letter again. However, the initial celebration quickly turned into worry. The cost of 8,000 and the cost of living of 12,000 was unimaginable for Singh’s family. Deciding not to get in the way of money, Aguilera was on the verge of getting a loan to fund her student when she thought of launching a crowdfunding page.

Within a week they raised 1.5 million rupees (16,000). Several Bollywood stars, such as Kunal Kapoor, caught the wind in the campaign, and after widespread donation and sharing of information, it was worth over 1.9 million rupees in two weeks. In the last week of September, Singh flew to London.

Viviana Durante, artistic director at the English National Ballet School, said the year-long program will provide Singh an intense education in classical and modern techniques and will learn how to adapt to the world of dance that has been greatly altered by Covid-19. . Talk about passion, optimism and education. That’s what you need in this era and students, including Kamal, have it, she said. It is one of 10 men and 10 women selected this year.

Beginning training at age 17, Singh’s abilities developed relatively late as a classically trained ballet dancer. But Durante said he’s in a good company. Rudolf Nureyev also started quite late. Obviously, if you start early, you have more time to train. However, cases like Kamal begin late, enthusiasm arises, and his dedication and abilities also manifest.

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