Arts & Entertainment

Indian slum dweller dances his way to English ballet school

By Indira Guerrero

New Delhi, Dec 16 (efe-epa).- The story of Kamal Singh seems straight out of a Bollywood musical.

The Indian danseur discovered ballet at the age of 17, but his natural gift for dance and some tutoring by an Argentine trainer led him to the English National Ballet School.

One afternoon in 2016, without knowing a thing about ballet or classical music, Noddy, as his friends call him, showed up at the Imperial Fernando Ballet Company, the most prestigious ballet school in New Delhi.

He had seen the Bollywood dance drama “ABCD: Any Body Can Dance.”

He approached the school that, unknown to him, was run by the same choreographer as in the movie: Fernando Aguilera of Argentina.

But when the 17-year-old showed up at the school, Aguilera told him: “Sorry, but it is too late to be a dancer,” the Argentine recalled four years later as he checked his phone to read the messages Noddy sent him from London.

However, that was going to be his day.

Aguilera, a veteran dancer at Teatro Colón in Buenos Aires, invited the young man for an audition so that his visit was not futile. That was when the magic exploded.

“We started the floor exercises and I said ‘we have to extend our legs a little,’ and he opened up,” said Aguilera, stretching at an angle of 180-degrees to illustrate how that afternoon, Noddy managed to make movements that require a decade of training.

In that same class, Kamal curled his toes to stand only on the tips.

“His rotation was impressive, the flexibility, his muscles, it was as if he was made of rubber, and I said ‘Wow! It took me years to achieve that flexibility.’

“He already had it, he already had his natural posture, he was already as elegant as a prince, so I said, ‘Well, don’t leave,'” the teacher recalled, sitting in the rooms where Kamal learned ballet and his posters adorn its walls now.

The veteran dancer was not the only one to be surprised. Kamal was also “very excited” to meet a character from the film.

However, on the first day of his class, he felt a “little weird.”

“I had never heard piano music earlier and I had never done ballet earlier, So, it was a little boring for me,” Kamal said.

He was speaking to EFE in a virtual interview from his room in London, where he recently started training at the British National Ballet School.

“But after maestro Fernando began the exercises with a lot of combinations of turns and jumps, I started loving,’” added Kamal, who now, like his teacher, dances influenced by the Vaganova method, the classical ballet technique developed during the Russian Revolution.

Kamal also speaks with ease of Farukh Ruzimatov, Rudolf Nureyev, and Ivan Vasiliev, the three iconic dancers who inspire him, in contrast with the amusement he caused among his friends not long ago when he walked around in training tights.

There were also other obstacles in addition to his initial lack of knowledge of the ballet and his age.

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