For the love of ballet

For the love of ballet

Cultural connection

For the love  of ballet

Yana Lewis is a familiar face in the city. Having come to the country many years back in pursuit of Yoga, she has formed a deep-rooted connection with the place.

      An international ballerina, a teacher and a choreographer, Yana is now in the process of helping ballet students in the country take their passion to the next level. She is planning to rope in the Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing to conduct grade exams in Imperial Classical ballet. She takes time off from her busy schedule to talk to Rajitha Menon.

Tell us about your tryst with dance.

Dance has always been my only vision in life. I went to a full-time vocational school at the age of ten.  We did half a day of school work and half a day of dance there. I continued at the same college for my diploma and teaching qualifications.  I have always been interested in teaching, along with a performing career which included a lot of commercial work like TV and music shows, music videos, advertisements and small film roles.

What has the journey been like so far for your organisation ‘The Lewis Foundation of Classical Ballet’?

My first ballet workshop in India was in Mumbai in 1999. I started taking regular classes from 2000 and in 2006 I started The Lewis Foundation of Classical Ballet along with my husband Devang Bhanushali. Our objective was to take India and dancers from India to the forefront in ballet internationally. The journey from then to now has been challenging yet fulfilling.

Are there takers for this dance form here?

16 years ago there was little interest in ballet in this country. Now children have had much more exposure to ballet and one of the main reasons for that is ‘Barbie’ (laughs).  Movies like ‘Barbie in the 12 dancing princesses’, ‘Barbie of Swan Lake’ and ‘Barbie in the nutcracker’ have been instrumental in changing the face of ballet in India. Sadly, we see very few touring ballet companies coming to perform in Bangalore .

What are your thoughts on Bengaluru?

Unlike most people, my reason to choose Bengaluru isn’t the city’s pleasant weather. I normally favour hot places, like Mumbai. But Bengaluru is good too; the summers here are pleasant. And culturally, it is a very vibrant city. Also, I have learnt some invaluable lessons here, which I wouldn’t have learnt in the UK. Like how simple life can be. You can find a group of men playing cards on a pile of cabbage in a truck and having fun.There are street kids playing on the road holding sticks. Back home in London, we have cranky children crying out to their moms saying they want this and that.

Other than a teacher and choreographer, what is Yana like as a person?

I am a very hyper active person. I am also a fruitarian by choice and strongly believe in holistic wellness. My life is about my family, my dance and yoga. When I came here, my goal was a long way off in the future, but being a realist I knew I would need to start from the grassroots. This is my way of giving back to the country that gave me my identity and a home.

If not dance, then?

There is never a question of  'if not dance' because dance is life for me. I started
dancing at the age of two. And I am really lucky as I have been able to make a living out of what I love doing. I am not sure if many people can afford to do that these days.

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