5 Stellar Indian Dancers Paving the Way for Ballet in India

Posted on 25 August, 2016 by Team Wishberry

Image Courtesy: Pixabay


India’s association with ballet goes a long way back. Kathak – one of our most prominent classical dance forms – is said to have taken influences from classical ballet. And institutes such as The National Ballet Academy and Trust of India, and The School of Classical Ballet and Western Dance further paved the way for Ballet in India. However, major credit needs to be given to individuals who relentlessly honed their craft, spread the word about it among Indian masses and also helped put India on the global map. 

Uday Shankar

Hailed as the “Father of Modern Indian Dance”, he was performing at a charity event organized by his father in London, when he met noted Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova. It was after this that he not only immersed himself in Ballet but also in Kathakali, thus giving rise to an entirely new dance style that he called “Hi-Dance”. He founded India’s first dance company in 1931, under which he toured and performed throughout Europe.

Sanjay Khatri

Sanjay Khatri fell in love with ballet at the age of 19. At 30, he is considered to be India’s first male ballet dancer. He founded Central Contemporary Ballet Academy in 2010, and has been teaching ballet since eleven years now. In spite of no formal training in ballet, he became the first Indian to be selected by South Korea’s Universal Ballet Company and later the American Ballet Theatre. One of his students became the first ever Indian to be admitted into the Kirov Academy of Ballet, Washington D.C.

Tushna Dallas 

Tushna Dallas founded The School of Classical Ballet and Western Dance in 1966, and is considered as India’s foremost professional ballet teacher. She is one of the very few Indians to have been trained at the Royal Academy of Dance, London. She’s a certified Royal Academy of Dance (RAD) instructor. And her school is the only one in India to conduct RAD and ISTD (Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing) examinations. Some of Tushna’s famous students include Shiamak Davar, Perizaad Zorabian and Ayesha Dharker.

Khushcheher Dallas

Khushcheher Dallas is the daughter of Tushna Dallas and takes her mother’s legacy forward ever so gracefully. She started learning ballet at the age of 5, at 11 she received two successive scholarships from the prestigious Royal Academy of Dance, London, by 13 she had perfected the pointe and by 19 she completed a teacher’s training course on scholarship from the Royal Academy. Khushcheher is the other half of Tushna’s brainchild The School of Classical Ballet.

Ranjita Karlekar

Ranjita teaches modern dance, ballet and jazz at the Calcutta School of Music (CSM) and is a noted dance ethnologist. She studied Dance Ethnology at UCLA, USA and is also trained in West African dance and Jazz. She has been involved and helmed many dance outreach programs, and has immense experience in producing dance productions. Ranjita Karlekar is also Network Chair for Research and Documentation of the West Bengal Chapter of the Dance Alliance, India.

The road ahead is long and full of its own set of challenges. But these stalwarts and many more have set the foundation as well as continue to fight the good fight to secure ballet a home in India!

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