It’s hard not the see the parallels between Rahul Pradeep’s life story and that of the fictional dancer Billy Elliot. Pradeep, who was born in Bangalore, became fascinated by dance at an early age but concealed his interest from his family for years.
“I always feel in the back of her head my mother knew that I wanted to dance,” Pradeep recently told the BBC. “But there’s such a stigma attached to boys doing ballet. First of all, ballet being done in India - it’s new for everybody - and boys on top of that.”
That’s why, as the dancer told the network, he did not end up taking his first ballet class until he was 20 years old — which is more than a decade after most performers get started. But even then, he did not tell his family exactly which style of dance he was studying. Instead saying he was taking jazz classes and teaching aerobics and yoga in order to make a living.
“But then we had a little performance coming up and I’d say ‘Oh by the way, I’m in a ballet show and can you come and see it,’” he said.
Despite thriving in the world of ballet, there were limited opportunities for him to grow as a performer in India. That realization led Pradeep to apply to the Ballet West Academy in rural Scotland. He impressed the admissions committee by sending them demo videos of his performances in India.
But while the school did provide him with some funding for his tuition and board, he struggled to make up the rest. Gillian Barton, the head instructor and founder of the Academy, told him to come to Scotland anyway. “We decided to offer Rahul a place as we could see he was a very committed young man,” Barton told Scotland’s Daily Record.
While he continues to look for scholarships and funding, Pradeep’s dance experiences have grown. Since arriving in the United Kingdom about six months ago, Pradeep has already performed on stage at some of Scotland’s most prestigious theaters in productions of the 1841 ballet Giselle.
Now 26, Pradeep is embracing his time both studying and teaching ballet at the Ballet West Academy. “It’s the opportunity of a lifetime,” he told the Daily Record.