Pat Saini, head of immigration at Penningtons Manches Cooper, has secured a rare global talent visa for Indian dancer Kamal Singh, the first Indian trainee to be selected for the English National Ballet School's professional trainee programme in London.
The son of a rickshaw driver in Delhi, Kamal gained global media attention in 2020 when in just two weeks he raised the $28,000 he needed to accept his place at the English National Ballet School. Now his ‘special talent’ visa has been granted, Kamal will be able to pursue his dream of being a professional ballet dancer.
Kamal first discovered ballet in 2016 when he attended a trial class at the Imperial Fernando Ballet School in Delhi at the age of 17, drawn by his transfixion with ballet dancers in a Bollywood film. Though he couldn’t afford the school fees of 3,500 rupees (£37) a month, his teacher Fernando Aguilera taught him for free in recognition of his natural talent.
Following years of training sponsored by his teacher, in October 2020 Kamal applied and was offered a position on the professional trainee programme at the English National Ballet School. Funding the opportunity was out of his reach so, together with his teacher, Kamal launched a crowdfunding campaign to fund the cost of the year-long course.
Kamal’s story and his crowdfunding campaign caught the attention of leading Bollywood names including Kunal Kapoor and in just a fortnight he had raised enough to travel to London to take up his place.
As the year-long programme neared completion, Penningtons Manches Cooper’s Pat Saini worked with Kamal to apply for a visa to enable him to carry on living and working in the UK.
Securing a global talent visa is a delicate process, with very precise criteria to meet. Applicants must include three separate letters of endorsement, including from an approved endorsing body such as The Royal Society or Arts Council England, as well as evidence of specialist press interest and published critiques of performance.
As Kamal is a trainee, who is yet to have performance in a professional production, Pat worked closely with Kamal, his family and the English National Ballet School to draw together the evidence needed.
Pat commented: “Kamal is a brilliant dancer with an incredible future ahead of him, and a pleasure to work with. We are delighted to have helped him secure a global talent visa, particularly as it is highly unusual for such a visa to be awarded to someone at the beginning of their career. We look forward to seeing him in his first professional performance very soon.”
Kamal said: “I would like to thank Pat for all her support during this extremely detailed process. I’m so excited to have this opportunity to build my career in the UK, something I could never have imagined only a few years ago.”