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The Pursuit of Passion – Chitra Soundar & Yasmine Naghdi on Ballet Besties

We are pleased to welcome Principal Dancer of the Royal Ballet Yasmine Naghdi and well-known children’s author Chitra Soundar to our blog this week, to celebrate the publication of a new inclusive series called Ballet Besties. Chitra and Yasmine tell us more about the book and share insights into balancing passion and studies, while growing up with the pursuit of dreams…
chitra Soundar blog

chitra Soundar blog

Guest Post: Chitra Soundar with Yasmine Naghdi

Authors of the Ballet Besties Series

The Pursuit of Passion

When we are young, we have many hobbies. I collected stamps, wrote poems, and performed in amateur theatre in a drama club my Mum organised during summer breaks. While I wrote and performed all through school life, I never thought I’d take it up as a career one day. So I focussed on school and academics while writing for my own pleasure during my free time.

This is the same for the five friends in Ballet Besties. While Yara wants to become a professional ballerina, she too has to focus on her school. She’s in a regular school with a focus on academics. Her parents had signed her up for ballet classes at Shimmer and Shine and they even put on a show – but Yara learns that it couldn’t come at the cost of her school lessons.

Pursuing Ballet as a Profession

Yasmine Naghdi, the co-author of Yara’s Chance to Dance,  went to a regular school. After school, she attended a nearby dance studio to learn ballet. On Saturdays, she took lessons in gymnastics and learned to play the piano. Until Yasmine was offered a place to attend The Royal Ballet School when she was 12, she had never thought of becoming a professional ballet dancer. There her normal academic lessons were mixed with intense ballet lessons every day of the week, even on a Saturday morning and it wasn’t until the age of 14 that she decided she wanted to become a professional ballet dancer.

In our new book Yara’s Chance to Dance, Yara gets distracted with ballet practising for her lead in Sleeping Beauty. When she forgets to complete her homework or concentrate on her classwork, Miss Diamond and her mum explain that schoolwork is equally important to pursue a career in ballet.

Reflecting Real-life Experience

This reflects Yasmine’s real-life experience too – to be a professional ballet dancer you need multi-faceted skills and self-discipline.

From managing your finances to juggling your daily and weekly work schedule, to understanding work contracts for performing abroad, and knowing how to work as a team especially when dancing in the Corps de Ballet, and so much more. The skills we learn at school come in handy throughout our lives.

Combining Passion and Studies

In our series Ballet Besties – and in the first book Yara’s Chance to Dance – we explore this theme through Yara’s experiences. Her passion for ballet at first distracts her from school work especially because she gets the lead part in a performance that had so much at stake. But with the help of her friends and timely advice from her teachers and her parents, Yara realises that it’s important to balance both without giving up one or the other.

Ballet as a Hobby

We also illustrate this through the experiences of Indu and Dante, too. Indu is not learning ballet because she wants to be a professional dancer. Her hobby might always remain a hobby, but that’s ok too. Dante on the other hand has two passions – football and ballet – while also focussing on his studies and he does make it seem easy to balance them.

Let’s all celebrate our passions while pursuing our jobs in a way that makes us happy!


Yara’s Chance to Dance by Chitra Soundar, Yasmine Naghdi and Paula Franco is available via Amazon or Bookshop.


More About Ballet Besties:

The first in a new inclusive series by Principal Ballerina Yasmine Naghdi and well-known children’s author Chitra Soundar

Ballet Besties breaks down the traditional idea of what a ballet dancer looks like – featuring characters of all ages, genders, ethnicities and body sizes enjoying dance! The first book discusses teamwork and perseverance, with students coming together to save their dance school. With gorgeous black and white illustrations and the endmatter including a glossary and explanation of dance moves – this is a fun way to bring the joy of dance to all readers! 

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