15-year-old Amir Shah only began his training in classical ballet two years ago
From Navi Mumbai to New York! 15-year-old Amir Shah is headed to one of the most prestigious ballet academies in the world, the American Ballet Theatre Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School (ABT JKO) in New York. He is one of the first male ballet dancers from India to reach this level of classical ballet. Remarkably, Amir, who grew up in a low-income neighbourhood in Vashi, Navi Mumbai, only began training in classical ballet two years ago.
Amir's introduction to ballet was serendipitous. 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.
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.
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.
"We are extremely grateful that Yusuf Hamied recognised Amir's potential. Amir will finally have the chance to concentrate on dance at ABT JKO without worrying about where his next ballet shoes are coming from," reads an update on the GoFundMe page.
The page will be kept alive "in case anyone still feels compelled by Amir's story and wants to contribute."
In the audition video, filmed entirely on a smartphone, Amir shows off his stunning extensions and powerful jumps.
ABT JKO 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. Students have gone on to become principal dancers, or the dancers at the highest rank within a professional dance company, at some of the world's best professional ballet companies.
And that's the future Amir sees for himself. "I've had this dream for a long time now, that I would become a principal dancer with the American Ballet Theatre," he says. "I hope that I can become one, and I'll keep pushing myself until I get there."
"My inspiration is Daniil Simkin (who currently is the principal dancer with ABT) I want to dance with him one day - like brothers," he smiles.
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.