Thiasha Karunasekara, a student at The Cambridge High School in Abu Dhabi, displayed a talent for ballet from a young age. We asked her what ballet means to her.
What do you love about ballet and what inspires you to develop your ballet skills?
Ballet has given me an outlet to express myself artistically and highlight my defining quality – my work ethic. Things have never come easily to me and this drives me to work hard for what I achieve. Ballet has always been my passion because it rewards hard work. There is no way around the hours and hours of practice that go in to make a performance perfect, but the joy and satisfaction derived from standing on stage and hearing the applause coming your way is truly indescribable.
Describe your ballet journey so far – what have been the highlights and challenges?
Ballet has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember – I’ve practically grown up in the studio. Naturally, that came with challenges. As a little girl I was extremely shy and struggled to express myself. Through ballet I have been able to gain immense confidence and face new challenges. My proudest achievement is undoubtedly representing the UAE internationally in both the US and Bulgaria; being part of such an exceptional and dedicated team was truly an honour.
You have several ballet certificates and honours – what do these mean to you?
Throughout my ballet career I have managed to achieve quite a lot. I successfully completed Level 8 from the Royal Academy of Dance (RAD) and was also certified as ‘Professional’ by the Pisarev Ballet Academy of Ukraine and Fantasia Ballet of UAE. I have received recognition from Bolshoi Ballet, Russia as well. I’m definitely proud of all my accolades as they serve as a tangible reward for my hard work. I have performed in many social responsibility events for noble causes, such as Autism Week and Mother’s Day. The memories and confidence I have gained through doing ballet is invaluable.
How do you go about balancing your academics and your ballet commitments?
Juggling studies and dance, of course, has been a huge commitment and a real challenge, but I believe my success comes from the early realisation of the importance of excelling in both. Time management is crucial, but if you enjoy what you do, busy schedules become a lot easier to manage.
Where do you hope to go with your ballet – do you see it as a career or pastime?
I am currently in Year 13 completing my A levels and I’m looking forward to studying economics at university. Although I don’t see myself pursuing ballet as a fully-fledged career, I will definitely continue dancing, as it is my passion.
What advice would you give to others looking to either start or develop their ballet?
Ballet is a very demanding activity both physically and mentally, so dedication and hard work are a given. Perseverance is also an integral part of doing ballet. You have to be able to pick yourself up and try again and again until you do a turn or land a jump perfectly. The most important thing to remember, though, is to love what you do and, believe me, the reward at the end makes all your hard work worthwhile.
We put some questions to Thiasha’s father, Sanjeewa Karunasekara:
When did you first realise that your daughter has a talent for ballet and how did you go about nurturing this and supporting her development?
Thiasha was an active child from an early age. She enjoyed various activities. In fact, she played rugby with the Abu Dhabi Harlequins when she was small. We wanted to channel her energy productively. We thought of giving her a shot at ballet and it was an instant success. She fell in love with it. She started when she was about five years old and it has been a remarkable journey. We want to thank her ballet studio, Fantasia Ballet Abu Dhabi, for providing her with the platform to blossom.
Has CHS been supportive of her love of ballet?
Certainly. CHS has been greatly supportive of her love for ballet. She was awarded a GEMS Performing Arts Scholarship for the past two years in a row. This is great encouragement for every student at CHS who is hoping to take up a challenge away from studies.
What are your hopes and aspirations for Thiasha?
Thiasha is a multitasker. She is focused. She is now preparing for her A Levels and we hope she will continue to excel academically. Ballet is her passion and we are sure, whatever career she chooses in the future, she’ll always find time to pursue her passion. We are very proud of her.