Hello, my name is Apeksha Bhattacharyya. I am the Founder & Director of India's leading Russian ballet school, the Indian Academy of Russian Ballet (IARB).
Being the only Indian to study under the Russian ballet system internationally (Russia and New York), I represent ballet in India. I am the Indian Ambassador in Italy for promoting Russian ballet. Our school has been awarded the Indian Education Award and I have been named in the “Top 5 Successful Mumbai Stories” in India Today. I have also been featured in Mind Magazine as the modern Indian ambassador.
Organization Name: Indian Academy of Russian Ballet
Location: Mumbai, India
Operating since: 2017
Instagram & Twitter: @indianacademyofrussianballet
What service does your organization offer?
We are India's leading Russian ballet school. We teach Russian ballet in India with affiliations from the UK. Our students are the first and only in India to represent at international ballet competitions and festivals in places like Vienna, Turkey, Greece, Russia, Bangkok, Singapore, Hong Kong. Our students have been awarded scholarships to USA and Hong Kong. We also organize Mumbai's only pan-India ballet competition - The Great Indian Ballet Competition (GIBC).
How did you get the idea or concept for your organization? What was your mission at the outset?
To popularize ballet in India and to put India on the world map for ballet. In a country full of traditional folk art, Indian classical dances and culture, Western dance forms like ballet are still quite unpopular and rare to find. Being a dancer all throughout my life, it was only very late that I understood ballet and its importance - why ballet is such an important learning and disciplinary tool for every dancer, and that it has great potential in a country which has the second highest population in the world.
Growing up, did you always intend to start your own organization?
Growing up, I never knew ballet existed. There was no ballet school in our country [at the time]. Hence, I never would have thought that one day I would grow up to open a ballet school and be the face of ballet in India.
How have your past experiences helped you to run your organization?
Well, being a dancer always had its positives to open a ballet school. But I am also a graduate of Advertising Media, which helps me greatly to network, to market, to promote, and to help popularize ballet here [in India]. I proudly call myself a ballet entrepreneur.
What is the biggest obstacle you've had to overcome?
I still struggle to explain the culture that comes with ballet. This is not just simply a dance form. Just like how the Europeans and Russians consider ballet a lifestyle and a discipline, this is a dance education, not just a dance style. But such perspectives are very hard to explain in a country where Bollywood is the most popular. We struggle every day, but the motive is, and will always be, to educate more and more about what ballet stands for truly.
What's your definition of success? Do you consider yourself a success? If not, when will you?
Yes, I do consider myself successful. It is the attitude of being successful that helps me to never give up even when times are difficult. There are struggles always, but with the correct faith and trust in your ambition, you never give up on your dreams.
Have the women around you helped you to rise? How?
My mother, who introduced me to dance at age 3, who believed in my dreams of continuing my dancing career. In India, the only true careers one considers are Engineering and the Medical Sciences, or maybe a service sector. To be a dancer is not [considered] a job! I am adamant to make dance a job, to give my students reasons of dreaming to be ballerinas with my examples, when most people in India still do not know what or who a ballerina is.
What are some of your future plans?
To make our ballet competition, GIBC, of international standards, to create a ballet show on Indian stories and history, to create Indian ballerinas, to give our Indian students an opportunity to study ballet worldwide, and to let the world know that ballet exists in India.
What advice would you give to a woman starting out in your industry or starting her own company/organization?
I would say, keep trusting in your dreams and reasons for beginning the journey. When times are the toughest, faith will keep you still going…And never compromise on any of your dreams.
Describe yourself in ONE word. [Two :)] Ballet entrepreneur
Complete this sentence: "To be a girl or woman today is..." a beautiful challenge.