Teen From Mumbai Slum Picked For American Ballet Theatre New York
American Ballet Theatre Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School (ABT JKO) in New York is a pre-professional ballet training program for young dancers. It is the top ranked ballet school in North America and ranks among the top five in the world.
15-year-old Amir Shah from Navi Mumbai is headed to one of the most prestigious ballet academies in the world on a full scholarship program. He got offered a scholarship from Royal Opera House in London too, but chose the New York programme instead.
He is one of the first male ballet dancers from India to reach this level of classical ballet. Amir, who grew up in a low-income neighbourhood in Vashi, Navi Mumbai, only began training in classical ballet two years ago.
During a hip-hop class at Mumbai’s Danceworx Academy, ballet master Yehuda Ma’or noticed his extraordinary dancing abilities and asked if he would try a ballet class.
Amir Shah and Manish Chauhan (who is at Oregon Ballet Theatre right now and trained with Shah) were a part of The Danceworx’s (Ashely Lobo’s dance studio) Going Home programme, an initiative started by Lobo to help underprivileged kids achieve their full potential through dance.
Earlier this year, Mr Ma’or sent a homemade audition tape to the academy’s artistic director. The young dancer was immediately offered an invitation.
Shah just came back from a four-month-long stint at the prestigious Oregon Ballet Theatre (OBT) in Portland. On May 18, a crowd-funding campaign was started to help Amir raise money to pay for the school fees, flight tickets, and living costs in New York.
Now, a generous donation from the Yusuf and Farida Hamied Foundation will help fund his expenses for his first year at ABT JKO.
Mr Ma’or hopes Amir will become one of India’s first male professional ballet dancers.
“Amir will put India on the ballet map, and we have no doubt that he will go on to dazzle audiences all over the world,” the Israeli-American ballet master claims proudly.