kuwait-BalletAt some point in almost every little girl's life, she dons soft pink slippers and learns to soar. Ballet teacher Teni Matian danced and refused to play with toys and dolls when she was around three years old. Her supportive family helped Matian become a ballet dancer and a certified teacher of the Royal Academy of Dance in London. "My family supported me and never asked me to be a doctor or engineer, even when I got high marks in my studies. They kept pushing me to learn more about dance and getting the highest scores in my BA and MA degrees," she said.

Matian spoke to Kuwait Times about her experience as a ballet teacher who teaches youth with and without disabilities. Matian not only teaches dance, but has also directed and produced several choreographic pieces for the TV show "So You Think You Can Dance".

After a potentially career-ending injury, Teni's perseverance and passion shone through and landed her a role giving classes in ballet based on the RAD syllabus. "I'm a certified teacher of the Royal Academy of Dance in London and now part of LAPA Loyac since March, teaching kids how to dance, and the best ones will be prepared to take the dance test by the Royal Academy of Dance in London," she noted.

Hip hop, free movement and more

Matian has also trained as a dance teacher for hip-hop, free movement and holding dancing sessions for people with disabilities in Kuwait and Armenia. She told Kuwait Times that because of her love of children and their vivid imagination, she teaches them ballet to make them reach their dreams. "Kuwait is going to establish an opera house and I'm hoping that this big investment in the country will really help unleash a new wave of dance and creativity," said Matian, expressing happiness and hope.

Before Matian came to Kuwait, she used to hear from people that this country was dead end for artistic work and her dreams of dancing will crash. "I'm very surprised by the achievements and influence of the youth in Kuwait, especially at Loyac. Many of us did not know this exists, and it is a matter of time parents will realize that ballet is one of the great dances that their children can continue pursuing it as a career to make them happy and make them feel free to fly like butterflies," she enthused.

Matian has taught, trained and choreographed for people with and without disabilities. These young people rediscovered their abilities through movement, and a new sense of identity emerged through the exploration of their fullest potentials of being persons with disabilities. "Only our own selves can transform the idea of being 'disabled' to 'being able'," she said.

Matian advises people to try something new. "We can always become new persons when we try new things in life, so don't give up on your dreams. And that is why I'm the funniest and craziest person - I can be a child or an adult and I have learned to play different characters."

Teaching dance for Teni is an honor and a dream come true. Deep down, she is still that little girl dreaming big and wanting to be a dance teacher, inspire young ballerinas and pave the road for them. "Dancing is my life and I only hope that there are many more young ballerinas out there that feel the same way. I always say that my career and my job is not work for me - it is my passion, my love, my soul."

By Faten Omar