Dance Mom Series part 1: Kumi Ota
Kumi’s daughter is Nana Ota is a 14 year old ballet dancer at TLFCB.
Do you have a background in ballet?
I like ballet, there were a lot of Japanese comics that had ballet in it and as a child I enjoyed reading them a lot. However I never took ballet classes myself, when I was young I was into swimming and later on into volleyball.
Why did you choose an education in ballet for your child?
As a mom I wanted my children to have something to enjoy themselves through without a language barrier. As we have to move around a lot due to my husband’s job, I thought it might help them in any circumstance. So Nana followed her sister’s path and learned ballet and art in Singapore and Japan. After coming to Bangalore, she chose to continue with ballet
Ballet in India
What is the difference between the ballet learning abroad and here in India?
The difference in ballet is that teachers in Japan have their own methods to teach and students do not follow an international syllabus like ISTD.
Students train over a considerable number of years and are encouraged to participate in ballet competitions. Then they start to pursue ballet seriously. We have a lot of competition from local ones to nationwide all over Japan.
Here with TLFCB we focus on a set syllabus which is good so we as parents can see the progress and understand. I’ve also noticed that the students are trained in such a way to prevent injuries and dance in a safe way.
One thing seen in teachers no matter which country they are from, is their strong passion for the art and their high intensity during show time.
What would you like to see in the future for ballet in India?
Recently on a vacation I had taken Nana to the Paris Opera House to watch a ballet and she enjoyed it so much! It was like Disney World to her. She was inspired and motivated. So it’ll be nice to see more professional companies travelling here so more children can watch them in real life. Instead of just on t.v. or YouTube.
Rules to keep as a dance mom
What are the ABCs of being a dance mom and how did you learn to pick it up?
Ballet buns, proper dance costume and providing support wherever possible, these are the essentials. Nana had a junior company’s show every year in Japan and parents were expected to contribute as a volunteer.
We are assigned to various tasks at reception, waiting room, costume room, behind the curtains and more. Just as we have here in India. So, I hardly watched Nana’s show on the seat. But through those volunteer experiences, we learnt all about the running of a ballet production and the way to support the children or school.
One thing seen in teachers no matter which country they are from is their strong passion for the art and their high intensity during show time.
What diet do you keep for Nana?
I don’t really have a proper diet plan set for her. As a mom I do try and avoid letting her snack too much on junk food. Fruits and nuts are the best. Nana enjoys Japanese food a lot. Japanese food isn’t very oily or unhealthy, so that is what I prepare for her at home.
What is the number one rule to keep?
Consistency and being on time. I believe it is very important not to make excuses to skip class. Even when I don’t have the energy to tackle Bangalore’s traffic, I always do my best to get Nana to class on time and regularly.
Support and views as a dance mom
In terms of school, dance and extra curriculars how do you support her in handling it?
Whenever Nana has extra curriculars in school and has ballet later that evening I take her directly from school to the studio. During the drive, she eats a light meal and takes a short nap, lying in the backseat.
Once she reaches home she takes a shower and starts her homework if she has the time. She always gets up at 6:30am and does any left over school work. Nana used to take piano classes but once it started to get too much to handle, she stopped them.
Time and health management are essential and she’s enough old to understand it. So, I just help prepare what Nana has to do and confirm with her about her schedule that day in the morning.
How do you keep yourself fit as a dance mom?
I was into swimming and volleyball but now I take Callanetics classes at least once a week on wednesdays or saturdays to keep fit as a mom. Whenever Nana is on holiday I take her along with me for the class that day.
How was the journey from watching Nana start ballet as a 4 year old to now?
Nana started taking ballet classes in our apartment from a teacher. Now she takes intermediate classes, grade 5, pointe work and JDC (Junior Dance Company) classes and grade 6.
Seeing her interest and passion in ballet gives me joy as a dance mom. It makes her happy, so that makes me happy. I’m very proud of her. If she should decide to make a career out of it, I will support and encourage her completely on this journey.
Are you a dance mom? Share with us your experience and wisdom of being the pillar of support to your little dancer.
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