En pointe for two years, 13-year-old Mumbai-based ballerina Priyanshi Parikh is all set to perform a solo from Swan Lake on the international stage. In August, she will become the first ballet dancer trained in India to participate in the Hong Kong-based Asian Grand Prix—competing against 300 dancers from 15 countries for scholarships to renowned ballet schools and other awards.
Parikh put on her first set of ballet shoes four years ago when she was living in Bangkok. “My gymnastics teacher was a ballet dancer—that’s how I was introduced to ballet,” she says. Although gymnastics helped her flexibility, it was ballet that helped her self-confidence, especially when she transitioned from soft ballet shoes to dancing en pointe, Parikh says. Having moved to Mumbai about three years ago, Parikh is now a student at Utpal Sanghvi Global School and trains with Apeksha Bhattacharyya at the Indian Academy of Russian Ballet (IARB).
While India’s exposure to ballet has improved over the years, it is still a challenge to find good teachers and studio spaces. In the Vile Parle studio where Parikh practises her plies and chaines to Tchaikovsky’s composition for Swan Lake, she is wearing a pair of pink Grishka shoes especially procured from Russia—and ignoring the thumping Bollywood music streaming in from the dance studio next door.
Parikh knows a career as a ballerina would be a tough road to walk, but hopes it remains a passion she can continue to pursue. On her return from the Grand Prix, where she will have a chance to attend seminars and classes on traditional and contemporary ballet, Parikh will perform on the Indian stage too—with the Academy’s rendition of Goldilocks and the Three Bears on August 19 at St Andrew’s Auditorium in Mumbai. Bhattacharya aims for the IARB, which currently teaches over 150 students across 10 centres in Mumbai, to soon have franchises across other cities in India too.
While exposure to the dance style has improved over the years, it is still a challenge to learn ballet in India
PRIYANSHI PARIKH beganlearning balletattheage of9,inBangkok