Kamal Singh’s story made waves on social media as the Delhi e-rickshaw driver’s son managed to raise enough through his crowd-funding campaign to be able to realise his dream of taking up his admission offer at the world-famous English National Ballet School (ENBS) in London this month.
On Sunday, the ballet protégé completed his first two weeks of lessons, which involve training with a face mask amid strict Covid-19 lockdown restrictions for artists, but he says he is loving every minute of it.
The 20-year-old raised an incredible GBP 20,764 with the help of hundreds of supporters, including Bollywood stars like Hrithik Roshan, through the crowd-funding platform Ketto to meet his fees and living expenses to be able to fly in to the UK capital and begin the course.
“I still feel very strange, like a miracle that I am attending my ballet course at ENBS,” said Singh.
“Speaking about it is one thing but when you enter that building, put your hands on those bars and you do some relevés (rises), jumps or turns in those classrooms, it is an incredible feeling. It makes you feel very special, like you are a different person,” he said, in reference to his first weeks in training.
It was a chance encounter with Maestro Fernando Aguilera, the director of a ballet school and company in New Delhi, that changed the course of Singh’s life a few years ago. He fell in love with ballet and embarked upon a tough training regime, finding it quite challenging as he started to learn only from the age of 17.
But Aguilera had confidence in his talent and trained him for eight to nine hours a day. After years of intense training, his dream came true with an enrolment at the renowned ballet school in London, but the finances were a hurdle that the young dance enthusiast from a humble family had to overcome.
“I am so moved by the love and support I have been getting from the people. I am so grateful to the people who donated for my Ketto campaign… I am really very grateful as well as obliged. Your kindness is permitting me to fulfil my purpose and dreams,” he says, of his hugely successful fundraising drive.
“My focus is to work very hard and with full dedication. I have to give my 100 per cent because it is my big responsibility to myself, the school and to my Maestro Fernando. I have to prove to them that they chose the right guy and make them proud,” he said.
Singh’s focus is now on honing his skills on the path to becoming a professional dancer and join a prestigious ballet company to represent India. After a trip with his classmates to acquire new ballet shoes and other essential gear, he has been embracing the English National Ballet School’s routine of rehearsals which involve ballet, contemporary, pilates and solo variations.
“It is very complete. The faculties are amazing; one better than the other one… and they always take care of you and make sure that you understand and learn what they are teaching,” said Singh.
In his very little spare time over the weekend, Singh has been trying to find ways to explore the “beautiful city” of London – within its current lockdown restraints.
Besides regular video calls with family members back home, he has also mastered the art of cooking the perfect butter chicken thanks to online lessons from his mum.
“I do miss them a lot but thankfully today we have camera calls, so I speak to my family every day. I have to make them proud. They have lots of hope from me,” he said.
Meanwhile, the young dancer says he is determined to keep his focus on learning from the best, even if it means adjusting to masked routines and the lack of any pairing up with a dance partner to rehearse crucial steps amid the strict social distancing norms in place for the arts industry the world over.
(This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text.)