Yana Lewis came to India in 1998, on the 80th birthday of her guru, Shri B. K. S. Iyengar. About her visit, Yana says that the moment she stepped foot in India (Chennai), she knew that she had to start a trust to take dance to the street children in the country. She saw and met children in the slums in Chennai. Having performed for as diverse and unfortunate groups as the mentally retarded and individuals in reform homes, she had the appropriate capability and concern to initiate the trust. She feels that it is important to take dance to the less privileged to open up the world of imagination and visual stimulation for them, which can give them the ability to dream and aspire beyond their circumstances.
In 2004, The Enchanting Extravaganza enthralled Bangalore audiences with performances from the Company and over 400 students from the Academy. The first day of the show was open only to less privileged children from several NGOs while the second was for the public. The same year also saw the devastating tsunami. The Foundation responded immediately by collaborating with the Red Cross and hosting a fund raiser which collected over Rs. 9.5 lakhs.
In 2005, a unique interaction with a multinational company for their annual celebrations made the Foundation come up with the concept of “Make a Difference Day” where corporate instead of celebrating with gala dinners can organise a dance camp for street children. In 2006, as part of the ‘Dance for a cause’ initiative, in collaboration with the Inner Wheel Club of Bangalore, the women’s wing of the Rotary club, the Foundation raised over Rs. 3 lakh for Mitra Jyothi, an organisation for persons with disabilities.
In 2009, as part of the follow up to an Indo-Swiss collaborative event, the Company went to Switzerland to perform at the Client National Institute of Fashion Tech., Winterthur, Switzerland. In the same year, we came up with our second production, Fantasy & Fairytale, a showcase of sequences from famous ballets and musicals like Coppelia, Midsummers Night Dream, Gulliver’s Travels & Cats, that attracted a wide ranging audience from the international community in Bangalore to local connoisseurs of art and dance. Following the tradition of previous productions, the first day of the show was open only to the less privileged children from various NGOs. This production was possible due to generous contributions from our patrons and sponsorship from companies like Mercedes Benz, Abharan Jewellers, Vividha and Fitness & Fairies.
2010 saw a series of workshops for our partner NGOs along with several performances for corporate events. Following the tradition of biannual shows, this year the Foundation is working on the The Nutcracker which will be staged on 10th and 11th of December, 2011. One of the less-privileged students who has been trained under sponsorship from the Trust for the past 3 years will play the lead role.
The Lewis Foundation reaffirms its committment to the belief that dance is for everyone, and that it can be used as a medium of self-expression and personal development, as well as being a beautiful art form in its own right. The Foundation aims to lay the foundation for classical ballet in India and is working towards building India’s first National
Ballet Company and setting up an Institute of Dance offering full-time professional 3-year Diplomas in Dance employing the best instructors from around the world. TheFoundation has lived up to its premise of “shaping the future through dance” and shall continue to do so.
- Lewis, Yana
Classical Ballet / Artistic Director