India’s Very Own ‘Billy Elliot:’ How Bollywood Inspired One Boy to Become a Ballet Dancer
Mohammad Ali Yasser | On 30, Oct 2020
Kamal Singh has become one of the first Indian students to attend the English National Ballet School in London. Singh discovered his passion through watching Bollywood films. Before this, the then 17-year-old hadn’t even heard of ballet!
For the next four years, Singh was taught by Fernando Aguilera at the Imperial Fernando Ballet School, in Delhi. Aguilera immediately recognised Singh’s incredible raw talent and potential. Because of this, Aguilera decided to waive the 3,500 rupees a month fee for the lessons as Singh couldn’t afford them. He then went on to secure the talented young man a scholarship and even went so far as to pay for his lunch and transport to school.
Clearly, Aguilera’s belief in Singh was not unfounded as the dancer was very dedicated, never missing a lesson and making the 5-hour round-trip to school every day to practice. Through this unrelenting dedication, Singh became an accomplished dancer earning him his place at the prestigious ballet school.
Just like in the beloved success story, ‘Billy Elliot,’ Singh comes from humble origins, and his dancing career was nearly over before it had begun. With the cost of living in London and school fees totalling an eye-watering £20,000 (almost 2 million rupees), the rickshaw driver’s son from Delhi didn’t see how he could ever afford to pursue his dream.
Luckily, thanks to the many kind people (including many Bollywood stars), who helped him reach his crowdfunding target within 2-weeks, Singh is now able to continue to grow as a dancer.