An Indian teenager is living out his own Billy Elliot story after being given the chance to study at one of the world’s most prestigious ballet schools.
Amir Shah, 15, is the son of a welder and grew up with his six siblings in a low-income neighbourhood of Mumbai, but his extraordinary talent will soon take him to New York.
Shah’s introduction to ballet happened serendipitously when two years ago he was spotted by dance teacher Yehuda Maor during a hip hop class at the city’s Danceworx Academy.
Maor immediately noticed his “remarkable physique, the shape of his feet and natural movement” and invited him to try ballet.
He described it like "winning the lottery".
Shah applied himself to ballet with a single-minded dedication that saw him give up school and which paid off when he was accepted to several American dance academies, including the renowned American Ballet Theatre Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School in New York.
To get him there, a GoFundMe page was set up which caught the eye of Indian billionaire Yusuf Hamied, remarkably offered to pay Shah's full tuition and residence costs.
The billionaire, who made his fortune creating generic versions of life-saving medicines at a fraction of their original cost, decided to make the donation after seeing a video of the teenager dancing on his YouTube account.
"Amir has received an extremely generous contribution from the Yusuf and Farida Hameid Foundation that will cover tuition and residence costs at JKO," an update on the fundraising page reads.
"However, we are still fundraising to make sure Amir will be able to afford classes outside of JKO to keep up his technique when not at the school, English tutoring, dance equipment, as well as the high cost of living in New York."
Maor also needs money to accompany his student to the US to help him settle in.
The pair have already received more than a third of their fundraising goal, which means Shah is well on his way to living out his dream to become one of India's first professional ballet dancers.
Who knows, he might even have a film made about him one day.
Feature image: GoFundMe