Yana Lewis – Co-founder, Artistic Director, Principal
Yana Lewis (AISTD Dip.) has been dancing since she was two years old. For her, dance is not just a passion, but a way of life. Her career as a ballet teacher, performer, and choreographer has spanned the globe.
Yana has extensive training in classical ballet (teachers include: Jean Campbell, Lorna Neil, Molly Lake, Heather Fish, and Celia Johnson), jazz (teachers include: Ivor Megiddo, Arlene Phillips, and Libby Rose), and modern techniques such as Cunningham, Graham, Horton, and Limón; an RSA in Anatomy and Physiology; and 30 years of study of Iyengar yoga. Her physical expertise extends beyond most.
Yana’s repertoire is diverse—she has danced principal roles in several ballets (Sleeping Beauty, Coppélia, Swan Lake, and Peter and the Wolf) and performed with Gravity Dance Theatre. She has danced on stages worldwide, from London’s West End to the NCPA in Mumbai. Yana has choreographed for and featured in music videos for Elton John, Bryan Adams, Phil Collins, and Ray Parker Junior from Ghostbusters. She performed on many BBC programmes (The Young Ones, London Weekend Television, A Proper Little Nooryeff, Top of the Pops, and Leo Sayer) and staged a dance-a-thon for the Children in Need appeal. Her choreography has featured on Asianet, Udaya TV, Kairali TV, and at numerous TV, film, healthcare, and architecture award ceremonies around India.
Yana is accredited to the Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing (ISTD) in the UK. She has taught classical ballet and jazz across the UK, at full-time vocational schools (Urdang Academy and Tring Park School for the Performing Arts) and summer intensives. Yana has taught dance to people with physical and mental challenges, children with HIV, and deaf students in the UK and India.
I firmly believe that through dance, the boundless and untapped talent and energy of these children can be directed to develop important life skills including self-respect, self-motivation and a sense of responsibility.Inspiration for Outreach programme
In 1998, Yana visited India for Guru BKS Iyengar’s 80th birthday, which sparked a lasting affinity to India. She travelled throughout India, exposing herself to several classical Indian dance forms. Seeing the many similarities between classical forms and ballet, she was inspired to contribute to the foundation of Western dance in India, especially for dancers experimenting outside of their idioms. After teaching dance across India, she settled down in Bangalore in 1999. Then, in 2006, Yana co-founded The Lewis Foundation of Classical Ballet with Devang Bhanushali, with the aim of expanding the nascent Western dance scene. Today, TLFCB has over 900 students and continues to grow. Yana choreographs, directs, and produces biennial shows in which every dedicated student is encouraged to perform (recent productions: Belle and the Beast, Loopy Living Library, Cinderella, The Nutcracker, and Oz – the Ballet).
Over the course of her 40 years of teaching dance and fitness, Yana has developed a signature style, which embodies safety, strength, and vitality. Her keen interest in kinaesthetic awareness informs how she teaches dance, yoga, and fitness, focusing on strength, flexibility, injury prevention, alignment, and toning. Yana’s classes cater to students and professionals who are keen to learn dance or work towards healthier bodies and minds. The passion and inspiration that she teaches with develops a love of ballet in her students. A strong believer that dance is for everyone, she teaches students of different nationalities, ages, abilities, and socioeconomic backgrounds.
Yana has given lectures on injury prevention in dance to classical Indian dance communities all over India. She contributed a chapter titled The Dancer’s Posture to the book, Iyengar, The Yoga Master. In 2018, she gave a talk on The Breaking Point of a Dancer at TEDx Bangalore’s conference at Infosys.
Equally at home floating fairylike across the studio floor with young children or discussing an anatomical problem or injury prevention with adults, Yana’s trademark is the supreme sincerity, passion and dedication with which she goes about all her work.Maureen Gonsalves, Cultural Coordinator, Max Mueller Bhavan