Meet the two Mumbai boys from low-income families studying ballet in the US

By Think Change India|25th May 2017
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Ballet is considered by many to be a dance form meant just for women. However, there are two boys from Mumbai who have been breaking this stereotype. Twenty-one-year-old Manish Chauhan and 15-year-old Amiruddin Shah are two of Mumbai's finest ballerinos.

Image Source: Vagabomb

Manish and Amir dropped out of school to focus their entire energy on learning the art of ballet. These residents of Navi Mumbai have learned classical ballet for two years under Israeli-American teacher Yehuda Ma’or at the Danceworx Academy. According to Homegrown, Ma'or said,

They have to go to America because they need more than what I can give them. They have excelled beyond my imagination and I am very proud of them. They could be India’s answer to ballet but it won't happen if they don’t have the exposure to international ballet.

Manish's father works as a taxi driver and Amir's father is a construction worker. Both belong to low-income families and could not afford the fees at the Danceworx Academy. Manish told Homegrown,

I gifted myself a chance to work in a dance company on my birthday few years ago by saving some money. They had a going home project for which I auditioned and got a full scholarship. Amir didn’t even give the audition but Ma’or sir was sure he had a gift. Both of us have full scholarships.

They were recently granted full scholarships to spend a year at the prestigious Oregon Ballet Theatre (OBT) in Portland. OBT is a huge university that has worked with the likes of Nicolo Fonte and James Kudelka, both acclaimed choreographers. According to the Hindustan Times, Manish said,

If I had not got this opportunity, I would have been struggling with my studies like all my friends, trying to get a regular job. Now, I can dare to dream and do what I am really good at.

Ma'or further told the Hindustan Times,

I had shown some videos of them dancing to Lisa Kipp, the ballet master at OBT, almost a year ago and she had expressed an interest in getting them to Portland so they could get the additional training they deserve.

Earlier, both of them were offered full scholarships by New York’s Joffrey Ballet School for three months. However, they could not go for the course as their visas did not get ready on time. This time around, they got plenty of time to finish the paperwork. With this opportunity, they can now pursue their professional careers in the field they love.

Their immense hard work and determination have given them an opportunity to pursue their professional careers in a field that would have seemed like a far-fetched dream to them just a couple of years ago.

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