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Saskatoon ballerina earns spot in a top school

Saskatoon ballerina earns spot at a top dance school
WATCH: Art has always been about expression, about conveying meaning through creativity. For one young dancer its also about building bridges across cultures.

It’s Prarthona Datta’s dream to be a professional ballerina. She recently learned she got accepted into a summer intensive program at a prestigious school, which she said helps her towards her goal.

“I was like, is this a dream? Is my mom lying to me? I was like super excited,” she said, describing the moment she found out she was accepted to the Alberta Ballet School.

Datta will study ballet for up to seven hours a day in Calgary during the month of July. Datta, 12, said she dances more than six hours a week, also taking Indian classical and lyrical dance classes. She said she dedicates most of her dance time to ballet.

READ MORE: Canada’s National Ballet School breaking new ground — majority of graduating class are boys

“I’m really excited because I’m going to be able to pursue my dreams, I’m going to be able to make even bigger dreams and I’m going to make everybody proud,” she said.

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She studies at the Saskatoon School of Dance with Nina Koroliuk, who said she has mixed emotions about her pupil’s success.

“It’s exciting, it’s fantastic, it’s bittersweet because you’ll have to lose them,” she said, referring to her students who are accepted into other programs.

“You grow with them and then they have to leave. But it’s exciting.,” she added, wiping away tears.

Datta was encouraged to study ballet by her mother, Jebunnessa Chapola. A singer and dancer from Bangladesh, Chapola wanted her daughter to continue learning Indian classical dance and Bangla songs, which she introduced Datta to when she was three. But she realized the opportunity to practice Indian and Bangladeshi culture was limited in Saskatoon.

She encouraged her daughter to begin studying ballet, another classical art form, despite not knowing what a ballet slipper looked like.

“I wanted to introduce art just to make her a good human being,” Chapola said.

READ MORE: Alberta Ballet celebrates 40 years of Christmas classic ‘The Nutcracker’

Chapola said she took Datta to Koroliuk’s studio shortly after they arrived in Canada five years ago.

She also said she worries about Datta in a new culture and art form.

“I have a constant fear whether she is a misfit here or not,” she said.

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“What I have perceived is that [the] ballet world is a very white-dominant world and they have their own beauty standards where my daughter doesn’t fit.”

READ MORE: Joffrey Ballet student dances for children in hospitals around the world

She said she hopes her daughter’s dancing builds cultural bridges and that “there shouldn’t be any barriers in any art form.”

It is the art and the communication that Datta enjoys. She said dancing is about expressing herself, something she had trouble doing when she was young.

“I didn’t really like to talk or anything, I was very shy. And so when I would dance or sing I didn’t have to talk.”

She said that her love of art and dancing will carry her through the long days of practice in Alberta.

“You always have to love what you’re doing,” she said.