Life In A Metro Dance

Students are on their toes in a ballet class in Thiruvananthapuram

Khushi with the students of On Pointe

Khushi with the students of On Pointe   | Photo Credit: Liza George

The school, perhaps one of the first ballet schools in Kerala, now has 20 students

The haunting instrumental strains of Seven Sirens and a Silver Tear plays in the background as a group of children bend their knees in time, arms swaying above their heads as they dip down. The students, all girls, are dressed in black with a pink wrap around their waist. “Posture..., turn out..., soft...., be in character,” says their ballet teacher Khushi, as way of instruction.

The dance over, the students then move on to the ballet barres where they do stretches. “The barre acts as a support to help them master the tricky footwork and hard exercises. As dance-related injuries are possible, we are trying to develop the strength, endurance and flexibility of the students,” says Khushi, as she helps her students with their stretches.

Started in 2015 as a workshop with just four students, On Pointe, the ballet school led by Khushi, has come a long way. The school, perhaps one of the first ballet schools in Kerala, now has 20 students who are divided into junior and senior batches. The students are between the ages of four and 15.

Kushi with Susannah Thomas

Kushi with Susannah Thomas   | Photo Credit: Liza George

Fifteen-year-old Susannah Thomas, a student of St. Thomas Residential School, says it was her love for ballet that led her to join the class. “I had studied the basics of ballet while studying abroad. As there were no ballet classes offered in the city when I moved back, I had to discontinue my lessons. When Khushi ma’am started this class, I registered immediately. I love how one can narrate a tale with what looks like effortless ease through ballet,” says Susannah.

Most of the students who sign up for ballet, according to Khushi, have watched movies that feature ballet and are fascinated. Like 12-year-old Hansika Krishnan, a student of Holy Angels ISC School. “I watched the film Swan Lake and was captivated by how the dancers were dancing on the tips of their toes. That is my goal, to be able to dance on pointe,” she says.

For 10-year-old Divyangshi Dash of Trivandrum International School, however, it’s the strict discipline involved that drives her to pursue ballet. She says: “At first I found it physically demanding but I still wanted to keep going. Khushi ma’am teaches me to combine grace, good posture, discipline and self confidence through ballet.”

Kushi with some of the students of On Pointe

Kushi with some of the students of On Pointe   | Photo Credit: Liza George

Ballet, says Khushi, is not for the faint hearted. Like any dance form, it requires rigorous practice to become proficient in this dance form. She has fused multiple styles of ballet training to create a curriculum that is uniquely theirs. “We have incorporated the fundamentals and practices from the Royal Academy of Dance, Vaganova and from the Cecchetti style, a more direct offshoot of the original Russian ballet school into our lines and movements. We have also included a bit of pilates and yoga into the training to help strengthen the students,” says the 22-year-old dance instructor, who is currently pursuing her Masters in Bharatanatyam.

Students have to clear a theory exam and have to perform a short ballet piece before they enter the next level of training. Certification is by On Pointe. As ballet slippers are hard to find in the city, Khushi has them tailor made for her students. “I measure each student’s feet and send the measurements to a shoemaker in Nagercoil. Ballet shoes need to be snug yet flexible. We use leather soles and the material is sourced from Mumbai.”

Classes are held every Saturday at Alliance Francaise de Trivandrum. Contact: 8289852300

(A close encounter with people and places in the city)

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Printable version | Feb 21, 2020 9:58:08 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/dance/ballet-students-are-putting-their-best-foot-forward/article22507957.ece

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