Dance moms how old are they

What the Stars Are Doing Over 10 Years Later

'Dance Moms': What the Stars Are Doing Over 10 Years Later Search iconA magnifying glass. It indicates, "Click to perform a search". Chevron iconIt indicates an expandable section or menu, or sometimes previous / next navigation options.HOMEPAGE


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"Dance Moms" first aired nearly 10 years ago. Jason Merritt/KCA2015/Getty Images
  • The reality show "Dance Moms" first premiered on Lifetime 10 years ago in 2011.
  • JoJo Siwa has gone on to achieve a massive social-media following. 
  • Maddie Ziegler made it big when she danced in Sia's music video.

Maddie Ziegler was 8 years old when "Dance Moms" started filming.

Maddie Ziegler on "Dance Moms." Lifetime

In the first episode, her mom, Melissa Gisoni, proudly declared that Maddie was Abby Lee Miller's, the controversial and strict teacher of the elite Abby Lee Dance Company, favorite student.

The dancer kept that title for most of her ALDC career.

The 19-year-old is one of the most famous dancers to emerge from the show.

Maddie Ziegler appeared in the "West Side Story" remake. Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images

In 2014, Maddie hit it big when musician Sia tapped her to appear in the "Chandelier" music video. The two have continued to work closely together, and Ziegler starred in Sia's 2021 movie "Music," which has been criticized for casting an able-bodied actor to play a disabled character.

Maddie also played Velma in the 2021 "West Side Story" remake.

In addition to dancing and acting, she judged Fox's "So You Think You Can Dance?" in 2016, released a memoir titled "The Maddie Diaries" in 2017, and launched a makeup collection with Morphe in 2020.

Maddie's younger sister, Mackenzie, was one of the youngest ALDC dancers.

Mackenzie Ziegler on "Dance Moms." Lifetime

Mackenzie was around 6 years old at the start of the show, so she competed in a lower age bracket than the rest of the team.

She was known for her comedic quotes, like when she said she didn't need to be a Broadway dancer, she just wanted to stay home and eat chips.

She's now focusing on an acting and singing career.

Mackenzie Ziegler released an album, "Phases," in 2018. Paul Archuleta/Getty Images

After leaving "Dance Moms," Mackenzie has released music under the stage name Kenzie.

She dropped her first album "Phases" in 2018 and even collaborated with Sia for her 2020 song "Exhale."

With a growing presence on YouTube and TikTok, Kenzie's also branched into acting by starring on the Brat web series "Total Eclipse" and voicing the main character in the US version of the film "Ice Princess Lily" (2019).

Recently, Mackenzie competed as Tulip on Fox's "The Masked Dancer" and came in third place. She also played Ivy in "Let Us In" (2021).

In September 2021, she marked a new era of her music career with her single "Happy for Me," and she also released her collaboration with NOTD, "Worst Thing," in May 2022.

Chloe Lukasiak often played second fiddle to Maddie.

Chloe Lukasiak on "Dance Moms. " Lifetime

Chloe was 9 years old when she first appeared on "Dance Moms," and she was one of Maddie's biggest challengers.

Every week was a battle to see which one of them would win the solo at the competition.

Now, she's a published writer.

Chloe Lukasiak has talked about attending Pepperdine University. John Wolfsohn/Getty Images

Chloe stepped away from the often-toxic competitive-dance world when she left the series at the end of season four. Now, she's 20 years old.

She has a separate Instagram where she posts her poetry, and she previously released a book in 2018 called "Girl on Pointe: Chloe's Guide to Taking on the World."

She also uploads vlogs on YouTube for over 2 million subscribers. In her videos, she talks about attending Pepperdine University and her college experience.

Additionally, Chloe has appeared in various movies like "Center Stage: On Pointe" (2016) and "Loophole" (2019).



Nia Sioux was 10 when her "Dance Moms" journey began.

Nia Sioux on "Dance Moms." Lifetime

Although Abby Lee seemingly didn't consider her one of the top dancers, Nia held her own and even learned how to perfect a difficult signature move — the death drop, in which the dancer falls to the ground in a split-legged pose.

Nia is currently enrolled at UCLA.

Nia Sioux is acting and singing while attending UCLA. Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images

The 20-year-old is attending UCLA while also staying busy with a budding singing and acting career.

She's worked on shows like CBS' "The Bold and the Beautiful" and Brat's web series "Sunnyside Up.

Nia dropped her latest single "Low Key Love" in 2020, and she vlogs on YouTube for over a million subscribers.

In 2021, she started the podcast "Adulting with Teala and Nia" alongside Teala Dunn and played Hanna Brooks in the TV movie "Imperfect High."

She also appeared in the film "I Am Mortal" in 2021. 

Brooke Hyland was the oldest member of the team when the show started.

Brooke Hyland on "Dance Moms." Lifetime

At 13 years old, Brooke had already been dancing for years and seemed, at times, to be getting tired of it.

Throughout the series, she would say that she was missing out on regular high-school activities because she was so focused on dance.

Brooke eventually got the normal school experience she wanted.

Brooke Hyland graduated from Ohio University. Presley Ann/Getty Images

After leaving the show at age 16, Brooke finished up high school and eventually went on to graduate from Ohio University with a marketing degree in 2019.

She tried her hand at a singing career shortly after she left "Dance Moms," but now she runs a popular food-themed Instagram account and occasionally posts on her YouTube channel, which has over 200,000 subscribers. 

She still seems to be close friends with Nia and was pictured hanging out with her in late 2020.

Brooke's younger sister, Paige, was 10 years old when the show started.

Paige Hyland on "Dance Moms." Lifetime

Paige tried hard to keep up with Chloe and Maddie but often found herself relegated to group dances instead of solos.

Kendall Vertes joined the show on season two.

Kendall Vertes on "Dance Moms." Lifetime

Dancing since she was just 18 months old, the then-9-year-old stayed on the show through season seven.


Kendall is now an actress and singer.

Kendall Vertes has appeared in several films. Paul Archuleta/Getty Images

Under the stage name Kendall K, she released several albums and singles, with her latest song "Girl Talk" debuting in 2018.

The 19-year-old also branched into acting, recently appearing in the movies "Rapunzel: A Princess Frozen in Time" (2019), "Santa in Training" (2019), and a live-action version of "Anastasia" (2020), about the Romanov royal family.

In 2021, she started hosting "The Kendall K. and Friends Show" on CBS-TV.

She also regularly posts on her Instagram page, which has over 9 million followers.


Asia Monet Ray joined the show during season three.

Asia Monet Ray on "Dance Moms." Lifetime

When she was 8 years old, Asia was brought onto the ALDC team and challenged other performers like Mackenzie.

Asia is now focusing on a singing career.

Asia Monet Ray posts song covers on YouTube. Yuchen Liao/Getty Images

After "Dance Moms," she had her own Lifetime reality show called "Raising Asia" that ran for a single season in 2014.

Asia also jumped into acting, appearing on multiple episodes of ABC's "Grey's Anatomy" and FX's "American Crime Story. "

These days, the 16-year-old is prioritizing a music career, as she released her single "Real Life" in 2019 and frequently posts song covers on her YouTube page to nearly 500,000 subscribers. 

Kalani Hilliker joined the elite dance team during season four.

Kalani Hilliker on "Dance Moms." Lifetime

Kalani gained attention on Lifetime's "Abby's Ultimate Dance Competition," a "Dance Moms" spin-off in which young performers compete for $100,000 and a scholarship to the Joffrey Ballet School.

She officially joined the reality-show cast when she was 13 years old.

The 21-year-old is still dancing.

Kalani Hilliker launched a line of prom dresses. Dana Pleasant/Getty Images for

Her Instagram page, which has over 6 million followers, is filled with videos showing off her moves. She captioned one clip, "Dance is always my 1st love."

In addition to dancing, Kalani now vlogs on her YouTube channel for over 800,000 subscribers.

She also dove into the world of fashion with a line of formal dresses for Prom Girl, and several "Dance Moms" alumni, like Nia and Kendall, attended her launch event.

Kalani's also acted in projects like the movie "Swiped" (2018) and on the Brat TV show "Dirt."

She still seems to be friends with Kendall, and shared a selfie with her on Instagram in January 2021.

JoJo Siwa joined the "Dance Moms" cast in 2015.

JoJo Siwa on "Dance Moms." Lifetime

JoJo was a late addition to the series, officially joining during season five.

Before her entrance to the official team, JoJo was on "Abby's Ultimate Dance Competition" when she was only 9 years old.

She's one of the most famous stars to come from the show.

JoJo Siwa has millions of followers and subscribers across multiple platforms. Stefanie Keenan/Getty Images for GLAAD

JoJo has over 12 million subscribers on her YouTube channel and she's also gained over 41 million followers on TikTok.  

The 19-year-old does a little bit of everything, from acting to singing to vlogging.

JoJo also has an accessories line with Claire's, portrayed T-Rex on Fox's "The Masked Singer," and was named one of Time's 100 most influential people of 2020. 

Recently, she starred in Nickelodeon's dance flick "The J Team" (2021).

She also competed and got second place on season 30 0f ABC's "Dancing With the Stars," though she earned the first perfect score of the season for her and dance partner Jenna Johnson's foxtrot. 


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JoJo Siwa Evergreen story Maddie Ziegler


Photos from Dance Moms: Where Are They Now?

11 photos


Phillip Faraone/Getty Images for Showpo

Maddie Ziegler

Since leaving Dance Moms in 2016, Maddie's career has skyrocketed thanks to appearances in music videos for Sia songs such as "Elastic Heart" and "Chandelier." Her memoir The Maddie Diaries became a New York Times best-seller and a YA trilogy followed. Today, she continues to explore dancing, acting and modeling opportunities, appearing in Sia's directorial debut Music and the 2021 West Side Story remake. 


Rowan Daly

Chloe Lukasiak

Before starting college at Pepperdine University in the fall of 2019, the actress wrote a book titled Girl on Pointe: Chloe's Guide to Taking on the World. She started a YouTube channel to keep fans updated on all her projects. And for those who loved the dancer's mom Christi Lukasiak, she remains Chloe's biggest fan. "She always encourages me to follow my dreams, as does my entire family," Chloe shared with E! News. "Everything I've done up until now has been possible because of my family's belief in me." 

One of her most recent projects—kicked off while she was quarantining away from Pepperdine's Malibu campus due to COVID—sees the author sharing poetry on Instagram with the handle @chloelukasiakwrites.  


Amy Sussman/Getty Images

Kendall Vertes

After being a member of Cheryl Burke-led reformed dance troupe The Irreplaceables, Kendall starred in the 2019 movie Rapunzel: A Princess Frozen in Time. She also set her eyes on the music industry, Kendall K's list of singles including the 2017 track "Where Would I Be Without You." As for her friendships with the girls, Kendall had a "family reunion" with co-stars Maddie Ziegler and Nia Sioux in 2019 before meeting up with Brooke Hyland and Paige Hyland last June. 


Paul Archuleta/FilmMagic

JoJo Siwa

After leaving Dance Moms, the YouTube star has become the unofficial tween queen thanks to an exclusive licensing deal with Nickelodeon, branded merchandise with retailers and even a sold-out tour across the country. "One of the biggest things that I ever learned from Dance Moms was either to sink or swim," JoJo previously shared with Kelly Ripa. "Not, like, physically, actually in a swimming pool. But to really just be able to survive and to want it."

These days, as she pals around with the likes of Miley Cyrus, Kim Kardashian and Paris Hilton, she's doing more than treading water. In 2021, the LGBTQ+ icon partnered with Jenna Johnson to compete as the first same-sex couple on the U.S. version of Dancing With the Stars. Her appearance on the ABC competition show followed the premiere of her feature-length film The J Team



Mackenzie Ziegler

The dancer's music career began with her 2014 album, Mack Z. In 2018, she released her second album titled Phases. That same year, the singer was a finalist on Dancing With the Stars: Juniors and launched her own cosmetics line called "Love, Kenzie." But her most recent endeavor was a group project, Sia agreeing to join her on the 2020 track "Exhale. "

A song "about needing to just breathe and have a party," as Kenzie put it to People, "I sent her the demo and she was like, 'Oh my gosh, I love this song so much.' I wrote the song, but I wasn't sure if I was going to release it, and she was like, 'Oh my gosh, if you don't release it by yourself, I'll take it from you or I'll just be on it with you.'" Expect more dance bangers in the future, with Kenzie telling the outlet an EP is in the works: "I have lots of songs that I've done, but I'm still trying to figure out which ones are my favorite. So after quarantine is over, I'm definitely going to be back in the studio."


Leon Bennett/Getty Images

Nia Sioux

The star of The Bold and the Beautiful and Sunnyside Up continues to stay in touch with her more than 1 million fans through YouTube and book future acting gigs. (On the docket: drama The Lies I Tell Myself and sci-fi flick IM/Mortal. ) And in May 2020, she released her first children's book, Today I Dance

"I know that I am young and have a lot to learn, but I also know that I am young and have a lot to give," she shared on Instagram following her graduation from high school. "I'm so excited for the next adventures life has in store for me. Moving on to the next chapter, I want to encourage our generation that we can be the change. We have so much power and I have hope that we will make the world a better place."



Kalani Hilliker

Now based in L.A., the dancer, actress and entrepreneur shares a new YouTube video with fans every Friday where she gets "to show you beauty, challenges, collaborations, and my life!" She also launched an exclusive dress collection for Promgirl. And, yes, she still considers the dance studio her "happy place."



Camryn Bridges

While this Dance Moms alumna isn't as active on social media when compared to her co-stars, the high school cheerleader celebrated her 2020 graduation with a special guy named Darius Turner. And yes, fans. She's still dancing!



Brynn Rumfallo

They grow up so fast! The Dance Moms fan-favorite documented her prom on Instagram in 2019, promising to be active on YouTube all summer long. Still dancing, the Twilight fanatic ("Robert Pattinson is the love of my life") is embarking on her senior year of high school. "I've gone to four high schools now in four years," she shared in a Sept. 28 Q&A sesh with her 3.1 million Instagram followers. "I really like school."



Paige Hyland

Since leaving the show, Paige attended high school in Pennsylvania where she was able to model for various brands including Sherri Hill. Next on her agenda is three more years at West Virginia University, where she's dating Youngstown's defensive back Jayvon Thrift.



Brooke Hyland

It's hard to believe, but all the way back in 2016, Brooke graduated from high school. Having dabbled "in the world of fame," as she put it in a January post to her 3.5 million Instagram followers, "I was able to have more fun than I thought was humanly possible with the best of friends, new & old. I traveled to 17 different countries." She went on to attend Ohio University, collecting degrees in marketing, management information systems and business analytics, before road tripping to California to begin her new life as a social media influencer.

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Moscow does not believe in tears, but dance, Ashvani, dance!. From Russia with love. Nation

Guru Ashwani Nigam's story is more like a Bollywood movie script. A descendant of a noble Indian family dreams of becoming a professional dancer, but in his caste this occupation is considered shameful. Ashwani hides his passion for dancing for a long time, and when the secret is revealed, he leaves sunny Delhi for gloomy Moscow in the 90s. Crying, sitting in a bare diplomatic apartment, looking at the Ostankino television tower.
But then a happy turn happens in the fate of the Indian, Ashwani acquires thousands of grateful students, well-deserved fame and great love. And all this while dancing, dancing, dancing.

Actually, thanks to dancing, I learned about the guru. About ten years ago I saw his dance lessons on cable TV. The teacher's charisma spilled over the screen. And I also fell under his magic: I put aside pots and irons and did “like this” with my hands. It didn't turn out very well.

- Guruji (respectful form of address to the guru, teacher. - Auth.) , Indian dances were not given to me. You probably have to be some kind of especially relaxed person to bend like that. And we, Russians, are often squeezed, tense.
“So when we learn, we start with body language. Facial expressions, eyes, hands. Yes, it is difficult for Russian people. But not because there is something wrong with the body, no. This is psychology. Russians are afraid to open up: probably, the difficult history of the country, the memory of generations, is having an effect. Out of a hundred people, if there are two or three who immediately easily make contact, this is already a great success. But a year or two passes, you look - and their faces are already different, they dance and live easier. All the negative energy comes out through the dance: people begin to speak freely, to show themselves. And from that moment on, Russian dancers begin to dance no worse than Indian ones.

- Tell your story from the beginning.
— My name Ashwani is translated as “doctor from God”. The surname Nigam indicates belonging to the Brahmin caste. This is the highest caste in India: Brahmins serve in temples, are engaged in teaching, medicine. My dad was a journalist, my older brother became an editor. Six of my uncles, my paternal aunt and all my cousins ​​work in offices in good positions, I alone fought back.

— How did it happen?
- I graduated from the university with honors and even worked as an engineer in a Japanese company for 6 years. That's what my father wanted. But since childhood I have played different instruments and danced. Everyone dances in India, but in our caste, especially for a man, this cannot be a profession. That's why I danced after work. I deposited money in the bank at interest. I planned, when I had saved enough, to come to my father and say: “I did what you wanted! Now I'm going to dance." But the father suddenly died. I quit, but I didn’t want to upset my mother, so I left the house in the morning, as if I were going to the office, and in the evening I returned, as if from the office. She did not suspect anything for two years, and then she needed me for some reason, and my mother called me at work.

In the evening they put on a performance for me: “You are 28 years old, it's time to get married, fathers offer their daughters and suddenly you, a descendant of an ancient family, are a dancer! Pah-pah-pah! What have you become?!”
I decided to leave India. I wrote a statement to our Foreign Ministry: I asked for a dance teacher in another country. I had good potential - 2nd place in the state competition. I was offered two countries to choose from: Indonesia and Russia. It was 1996: in Indonesia it was very restless, in Russia there was a mess after the collapse of the USSR. But the Foreign Ministry described Moscow to me like that! That I will live at the embassy, ​​that I will have thousands of students and they all speak English, and some even Hindi! Ashwani laughs.

— What really happened?
— Shock! Frost okay, I was ready. But I did not live at the embassy, ​​but at VDNKh, these are three metro stations that I still had to drive through, not knowing a single Russian letter. No one speaks English around. And I arrived at a time when Moscow was preparing for the Days of India, all the Indian teachers were busy - and they forgot about me.
They gave me an apartment, it had an electric stove. I have never seen such ones, I tried to figure it out, but it did not work (later it turned out that only three of the four burners were broken). The first day I ate the chips that were left in the bag. On the second I decided to make tea. No boiling water: hot water flowed from the faucet. The tea did not brew very well, but I corrected it with milk.
My things from India were supposed to arrive only in a week. I had no money, I could not speak, I did not know the city. They also scared me that you can’t walk the streets alone. In those years, we suffered greatly from skinheads. One of my Indian colleagues was severely beaten, his fingers were deliberately broken. I also ran away from them several times in the subway (I had to run to the stairs, there was a police patrol), once from skinhead girls; I couldn't even think that such things exist...

So at the very beginning I was sitting hungry in a bare apartment in the center of Moscow. I went to bed without linen, and the pillow pricked my face with feathers (our pillows are stuffed with cotton wool or coconut fiber, they do not prick). I remember how I got up at night, went out into the living room - the Ostankino tower was blinking outside the window. I looked at her and cried: where did I go?
So two days passed, and on the third day the teacher who lived with me on the floor came: “Oh, sorry, we were busy. Forgot about you." Brought Indian food. I ate, calmed down, then went to work, they gave me 150 dollars in advance, my things came, life gradually improved.

— Did many Muscovites want to learn Indian dance in 1996?
It was another shock. I dreamed that I would have a large hall, many students, they would touch my feet, as is customary in India. And everyone will be delighted with my professionalism! I'm coming. My hall is the smallest of all: 8 by 8 meters. And not a single student. I went to the secretary: "Whom to teach?" She called former students.
Three days later, a 16-year-old girl came. A month later there were 15 students. A year later - already hundreds, then - thousands.

— After the bright warm Delhi, what did Moscow look like to you?
- We lived at VDNKh, there are diplomatic houses, there are a lot of trees around, very beautiful and clean. After old Delhi, where two people cannot pass between houses at the same time, Moscow, where eight cars fit in a row on the road, seemed huge to me.
Our ancestral home was opposite Lal Qila Palace (the main residence of the emperors from 1652 to 1856, the main tourist attraction of Delhi. - Auth.) . Our haveli, the mansion, had 52 rooms. Once it belonged to one of the emperor's wives, and after her death, it went to our relatives, who worked as accountants for the emperors. Our whole large family lived in this haveli: uncles, aunts, their children. But these 52 rooms are small and dark. And in my Moscow apartment I had only three of them, but they were so huge that I got tired of running from the kitchen to the living room. I liked it.

— And when everything is more or less settled for you, you meet Svetlana, your future wife?
- Yes. She was then 18 years old, she is also an engineer, a hydrobiologist. Studied in 1st year. A friend brought her to the dance; Sveta's mother died, it was a difficult period in her life. At first I noticed her because of the clothes. She did not have a sari, and she went to a Krishna temple and bought strange pajamas there, she looked very funny in them. But at the same time, it was clear that she was smart, attentive: in a month she learned what I taught for a year. I wanted to promote it. But one fine day, Sveta came, and her hair is a centimeter long! Her friend was engaged in haircuts, they experimented, ruined her hair - and as a result, zhuh-zhuh under the typewriter. And I have a show! I wanted her to perform! I swore a lot: in Indian dance, even men do not do such a small hairstyle! Light listened and left. I was sorry: the girl was good, they could have put a wig on her. Why am I like this?

And suddenly, six months later, she comes, I was delighted and treated her more carefully. We began to slowly get closer, to communicate. And my contract with the embassy is already ending. The students ask me to stay: we will find a place for you to live, we will pay. And Sveta said that if I go to India, she will follow me! I liked it and I decided to stay. Then my friends and I rented an apartment, Sveta came, helped me around the house, and then, when I had to leave the apartment, she offered to move in with her. Since we are a moral couple, we decided to get married.

— How did your relatives react to the appearance of your young wife?
- Mom, when I said that I would be a dancer, doubted about my orientation, worried that she would not have grandchildren at all. And then I sent her a video from my lesson: girls were dancing in the hall. I asked my mom which one I would like. There were bright girls, heavily made up, but she pointed to the most modest, Svetlana Pavlova. And I said: if you like her, then I will definitely marry! (laughs) Mom was surprised: “Really? I am so glad!" Then: “Is she Russian? Christian? Nothing, I'm glad. " Svetlana was then 25, and I was 37. In India, 37 is a big age, you will not find a young good girl anymore.

But all my relatives, except for my mother, were against it. Some said that I had died for them and should not come to them. At our wedding in India there were only my mother, brother, his wife and children.
...Once we lived with my brother for several weeks. They made us a separate refrigerator and gave us dishes for guests so that we would not go to their kitchen. The kitchen for the Indian family is a sacred place, only its own are allowed to enter there. Svetlana wanted to warm up something, but they didn't let her in. She didn't understand why. I explained: the difference of cultures, nothing can be done.
The attitude towards us, as to the exotic from the zoo, was until the children were born. And then everything was accepted as it should be. Children are my blood.

How many do you have?
- The oldest is Ishika, she is 18 years old. And three sons: Nil, 14 years old, Niketan, soon 11, the youngest Vasanta-Vasily, 7 years old.

Ashvani, Svetlana and their children.

- All the kids, I know, are homeschooled.
- Yes. And everyone was born at home. Sveta categorically decided to give birth herself, and she herself teaches them. It works out well for her. I’m not so good: I learned Russian, I speak fluently, I learned to read, but I can’t write without mistakes. “A” and “o” I can’t distinguish, “vada” I can write, “malako”. Children laugh, what mistakes I make!
In general, we have golden children, very modest, always behave decently. Society no longer accepts such people, I tell my wife: home schooling is good, but they need to live in the present! But Sveta is against it. The eldest daughter is already preparing to enter the art school.

— What religion do the children have?
- They are Christians. I myself invited my wife to baptize them. We live in Russia, so we must follow the rules of our country. But the children also have a residence permit in India. we go there often. And my mother, after the birth of her first child, lived in Russia for a year, came to help.

— We say: “The husband is the head, and the wife is the neck. Wherever the neck turns, there goes the head. How is it in your family?
- The same situation. You can even say that the wife and neck and head. I am only hands. They work, bring money, and the head and neck figure out where to spend it. In India, I gave all the money to my mother, she allocated me for life. And then I give everything to my wife. Nothing changed. (Laughs.)

- I heard that Svetlana addresses you as "you".
- And I to her on "you". When we swear, it turns out very gently. "You are a goat!" - "No, you are a goat!" "You" softens the evil, no matter how much it is. And when I scold children, I also turn to “you” with them so as not to be rude. Therefore, we do not have a strong curse. But I also scare with my eyes, they are large enough for me to express everything that I think.

- Yes! I remember from your video tutorials how you dance with your face, facial expressions, this is something amazing.
– Indian dances are the only classical dances in the world where you can show more than ten emotional states with facial expressions. I can do it. I can teach you to swear with your eyes. But these are years of training! (Laughs)

— You teach classical Indian dance, and Svetlana teaches dances in the spirit of Bollywood. What is the difference?
- Bollywood is not a style, but a porridge of fashionable dance styles. If you watch Indian Bollywood 1960-70s, then they dance rock and roll, samba, rumba. In the 80s it was disco and breakdance, today something else.
But Svetlana owns not only bolliwood dance, she has a diploma of a professional dancer of classical Indian dance Kathak. She was my first student to receive such a diploma. And I'm proud! By the way, I also teach Bollywood. True, not so modern, but retro Bollywood, old songs that I like.

— How many students did you have in 25 years in Russia?
- When I taught at the embassy, ​​there were two thousand. In 2003, I created the theater of Indian dance "Tarang", in Russian it means "wave". I am the artistic director of the theatre, Svetlana is the choreographer. We have many students, many of them are children. Plus, I conduct seminars: I fly to different cities of Russia and there I teach groups for 3-4 days. If we gather everyone, then there will probably be twenty-five thousand students.
Two or three thousand are constantly engaged, and there are people who have been with me for more than 20 years. A lot of students teach. And their students teach. I am the grandfather of Indian dances in Russia. (Laughs.) And for several years now, Svetlana and I have been giving lectures on the culture of India at the State Museum of Oriental Art.

Guru Ashwani Nigam with his Russian students.

— How many cities have you seen in Russia?
- About forty. And not only cities - villages, auls, villages. I was in Yakutia. The first time he tried to eat this horse there, what is his name? Deer!

— Are Yakuts different from Muscovites?
- Yakuts are so calm! I brought them bright, emotional dances - “oh, no, we need soft dances, we don’t like so quickly.” He came to St. Petersburg with calm dances - “no! We need a tygydyn-tygydynchik!”
People in Russia are different, and they have different desires, and ideas about India. Many, especially from small towns and villages, have never been to India. But they watched movies, they love music and fantasize a lot. I often feel sorry that they cannot see everything with their own eyes, so I want to help, I give literature, videos. This is also my cultural mission.

— But at the same time, you say that you already feel like a Russian.
- I'm in shock! In India, they believe this: what language a person speaks in a dream is the language of his soul. And in my sleep I even speak Russian with my parents. But this is understandable: my friends are Russians, my relatives are Russians, my children's godparents are also Russians. So I became a Russian inside my soul.

Selfie against the background of Moscow, which has become native.

— What are the Russian people like?
- Generous and funny. Sensitive, kind, joyful. I remember a case when we were with a performance in one small village, and my Moscow student's parents lived there. He invited me to their house. They didn't have money to buy food. We climbed into the cellar, went to the garden to dig potatoes. I understood the situation, gave them some amount of money - for life. But they bought a sheep, sour cream, bread and set the table. I say: “Why? It was your help!” But no, these are the people.
There was a seminar in Kemerovo. Everyone had already got off the plane, but they didn’t let me in, they said I had to wait. Then they called, and I went out of the ladder onto the red carpet! He walked like a king: bread and salt, smiles, joy around. I was a star for them: Mithun Chakraborty came to Kemerovo! (Laughs) Of course I was ecstatic.
I looked at these people, remembered how it all began, what path I had traveled - and I couldn't believe myself...

From Russia with Love is a project of the Nation magazine, created with the support of the Presidential Fund for Cultural Initiatives. These are the stories of foreigners who once came to our country, were imbued with Russian culture, open spaces, people - and in the end they themselves became a little Russian.
Tell your friends about our hero, share this story on your social networks.

“Sing and dance as much as you like,” the doctor said to little Polina, realizing that this would help her fight cancer

competition "Scythe - a girl's beauty"

When Polinka Sobolevskaya was included in the Kakhovka Book of Records, the girl has the longest braid in the city (“Not only in her age group, but in general,” her mother proudly emphasizes), most of all local physicians marveled at such an achievement.

“If children get sick as seriously and terribly as Polya, you don’t expect any records from them,” they explained to “FACTS” in the Kakhovka district hospital. “Moreover, our little fairy stunned the audience and the jury at the city competition “Kosa - girlish beauty” not only with the length of her hair - she sang and danced, believe me, the best!

A huge malignant tumor affected most of the vital organs. The correspondent from the local newspaper, before taking a picture, measured it himself with a ruler and was very surprised.

“We will grow hair to the toes,” the girl’s eyes sparkle with happiness.

* More recently, Polina had a braid to the waist, now almost to her knees, but the girl firmly decided that she would grow her hair to toe

I listen to the record holder and involuntarily admire her: such a clear-eyed miracle!

- Do boys pull pigtails at school? - I'm interested.

- What are you! We are big, and no one flirts so childishly, - he smiles shyly Polinka .

Many people in Kakhovka know that this child is unique. “An angel who has been to hell,” they say here about a girl. To understand what it was about, I met with Paulie's mom.

“My husband and I didn’t even think about having a second child,” , 37-year-old Alena Sobolevskaya, begins her story from a distance . - Volodya, our first-born, suddenly began to insist on the appearance of his sister. He was five years old. I lead my little son to the kindergarten in the morning, a woman with a pram meets me. Vova looked into her and said: "I want such a Lyalya in such a carriage." And ten times a day he reminded us of his dream. “What storks? Stop fooling me! Give birth to a girl! - demanded under the laughter of adults. “I see he won’t let go,” the husband joked. "We'll have to think."

The birth was fast, the girl was born healthy, mom and dad began to choose a name.

“The little girl lived for a long time without a name, and our Vovchik called his sister simply Lyalya,” says Alena . “She really looked like a wonderful doll. By that time, the son had gone to first grade, somehow brought a book with a list of girls' names from the school library and chose Paul himself. “Do you know how it translates? Kind!" convinced me.

Polinka, earlier than other children, began to hold her head, quickly stood up on her legs. “For some reason, the pediatrician didn’t warn us that girls shouldn’t be seated early, taught to walk,” Mom sighs. Soon the parents noticed that one of the girl's legs was much shorter than the other.

“We managed to find a specialist who could fix everything without surgery,” Alena recalls. - It seemed that the troubles were over: Paulie's teeth came out early, the child spoke well, knew a lot of rhymes. We were two years and two months old, when suddenly: the tummy hurts! The day before, I fed her canned cherries, so I immediately began to sin for poisoning. I ran to the hospital and took a blood test. “You have appendicitis,” the doctor concluded. "Emergency surgery is required." And on the same day, our girl was placed on the operating table. We stand under the operating room for an hour or two. The doctor comes out and explains: “I suspect a tumor, parental consent is required to continue the intervention.”
It’s hard for mom to remember that terrible day: an ambulance was brought from Kherson, a group of specialists urgently arrived - they consulted for a long time whether they could take the cut child to the regional center - after all, 80 kilometers. The operation in Kherson continued for another five hours: a huge malignant tumor touched most of the vital organs.

- Nikolai Sheiko, surgeon at the Kherson Regional Children's Hospital, , explained to me: “I couldn't save this organ, and I removed that organ, and another one,” says Alena. - Meanwhile, we are very grateful to Nikolai Stepanovich - it is his merit that Polya remained alive. Looking ahead, I’ll add: later, when they took my daughter to Kyiv for a revision operation, the capital’s oncologists were surprised: “Did they really manage to cope with this in Kherson? Remove so many organs at once?! We haven't even done this yet!" And it went: “chemistry” after “chemistry”, and we had to buy expensive drugs ourselves. Lists with the names of people who were borrowed money took up half of the school notebook. The hardest courses of chemotherapy continued for almost two years. The drugs with which we were saved were later abandoned as too aggressive - doctors then only learned how to use them. Once, due to an overdose, Paul's stomach and intestines were burned. No one promised us that everything would be fine, on the contrary, they honestly warned us: any day could be the last. For the slightest tear, mothers were expelled from intensive care. All the troubles were joined by another one - the baby was infected with hepatitis C, which ate the liver.

Soft toys are not allowed to be brought into the surgery, but Polina's strict ban has been lifted. “This child can do anything,” Sheiko said. The little patient's hair fell out three times from "chemo", but even bald she looked like a real beauty! "Angel!" - everyone around was touched. Just to survive!

“After every rehearsal, Polya dances for two hours at home — this is a rest for her”

Modern Ukrainian medicine is able to cure 70 percent of children from cancer, while most of them recover completely - this is what the statistics say.

“Oh, I don’t know,” Alena shakes her head. - We have several albums from the hospital period left: I'm afraid to even take them in my hands - almost none of those kids are already in the world. Why did we survive? You see, your child fights every day and proves that he wants to live. Thanks to the Kherson doctors who taught me that my daughter needs something to please every day, without joy there will be no recovery. "Help your child to live a wonderful day - maybe these are your last hours together" - this is now my philosophy of life. Every moment becomes priceless when you realize it.

— I can’t imagine how such advice can be put into practice when you wake up in the morning and want to howl with grief

— Put an hourglass in front of you and imagine that this is your life. Probably, something will want to change Lord, and clowns were invited almost every day, and they just didn’t come up with anything. We still spoil Paul very, very much. I remember we were discharged, and my daughter said: “Mom, let's make ourselves beautiful hairstyles!” Let's go and buy different hairpins, rubber bands But at that time we had debts - I can't even tell! I got a job as a market implementer in order to get rid of them as soon as possible. My hostess, feeling sorry for Paul, with each purchase of goods personally brought her beautiful children's clothes, different handbags, unusual dolls.

At the age of five, Polya wanted to dance, despite all my doubts, I could not say “no” to her - she had never heard such a word from us. We go to Kherson for permission, the attending physician is amazed. "Have you thought of anything else?" - twists his finger at his temple. It can be understood: for four years after being discharged from the hospital, Polya did not gain either height or weight - ten kilograms, and that's it. Walking skeleton! A year later, we again ask for a certificate for enrollment in a dance group. And I must say that the intern Igor Romanovsky had an internship in the Kherson regional hospital, he now works as a doctor in Odessa. What kind of person is this! Miracle! They immediately became friends with Paul. The young doctor spent three or four hours at our daughter's bed during her most difficult days - he read poems, drew, entertained. Who has a real calling! It was Igor who then wrote us a certificate: “there are no contraindications.” “Sing, dance as much as you like,” he said. "It's only good for you."

No matter how healthy and cheerful such a child may seem, parents and doctors are most worried about the possibility of a subsequent relapse of the disease, which may occur after a year, two, six years. Cancer children for life should be examined every six months. Seven-year-old Polina was already running to dances, when suddenly, during her next trip to Kyiv, a terrible sound again sounds - a new tumor on her bladder.

“They took the tissue for histology, and it turned out that the mistake was the old scar was mistaken for a new growth,” Alena recalls.

Polinka, meanwhile, conquered new creative peaks - she became the winner of the eighth regional pop song contest "Carousel of Melodies " in her age group, and with dance group "Veselushki" of the Children's Art Center of the city of Kakhovka performed almost every day .

“They are very famous dancers in our city,” boasts Polya. - Where we don't dance, there are full houses everywhere!

The girl likes dancing so much that after an exhausting rehearsal she comes home and sighs: "We need to rest." But since the best rest for Paulie is to dance, she arranges another rehearsal in her nursery.

“I’ll tell you a secret,” Alena’s voice becomes quieter, “that we signed up for another dance group and are now learning oriental dances. You should have seen how Polya performs a belly dance!

- Do you go to a regular school? - I'm interested in a girl.

— If the weather is fine, the little star smiles. - But mostly I study at home, I pass exams externally.

“We keep repeating that God helped us to get out,” the mother pats her daughter on the head. Polya takes it literally. Recently we go to school in the morning, we are late for the math test. Suddenly, the daughter stops near the church: “We need to go in and pray.” I wait. Polya runs out of the temple enlightened, we barely have time for the lesson. And what do you think? Helped! I wrote a paper for 11 points. And yet we also have a fiancé, a classmate. All the girls run after him, and he brings flowers home to Polina.

- How do you feel about him? - I'm curious.

“I am making up my mind,” the schoolgirl replies evasively.

“I am amazed at the willpower of this girl!”

— Why does one seriously ill child survive and another die? - Vera Redkina, head of the hematology department of the Kherson Regional Children's Hospital, argues. - Perhaps because someone manages to focus on the positive, focus on the strengths of the character of their baby, but someone does not. Polina's parents did and do everything right. And the girl herself is extraordinary, very talented.

- What did the Sobolevsky family have to go through?

— Tiny baby admitted to hospital in critical condition. During the surgical intervention, a huge inoperable tumor was discovered that affected many organs.

- What is an inoperable tumor?

- It has grown, occupied the entire peritoneum. The only option for salvation is a radical removal: I had to “throw out” several internal organs at the same time.

- Polinka was born with this?

- Hard to say. Based on age, yes. But when such children are cured, this is a great happiness for the doctor. How much we have been together! Me, parents, girl. Now there are new research methods, you can immediately determine the type of tumor, give a prognosis. And then there was none of that. But Polya is the most grateful patient I have ever met. She knows how to gather strength, focus on victory. People, even healthy ones, often spend too much time worrying about their weaknesses instead of developing their strengths. Polya already then, at her three or four years old, "concerts" in the oncology department. If the disease receded even a little - immediately a holiday, bright costumes, songs, applause, flowers. May her life be rewarded with a long and happy life. Health to her!

Having won the palm in the competition "Kosa - girlish beauty", Paul had to learn the intricacies of interviews and filming. Noticing that I was taking a camera out of my bag, the little record holder became worried: “Are you going to shoot me? Wait a minute! You have to get ready. " It is prepared in a completely grown-up way: having immediately rejected several hats, picks up a box of jewelry - which ones to choose?

“A real little woman,” Alena laughs. - She won’t leave the house so that she doesn’t varnish her nails, decorate her hair. The heart rejoices when the daughter is spinning at the mirror, which means that nothing hurts her. But there are days with headaches, fever for no reason. Then I immediately panic, pack my things and go to Kherson. As long as God has mercy, nothing serious.

In order for Polina to have everything - hats, dresses, sequins - her father works day and night at a construction site, and her mother has been wearing the shoes of her eldest son for three years now.

* Father Eduard, mother Alena and elder brother Volodya tried to surround little Polinka with joy and fun. Maybe this helped the girl to survive

— So what? Elena waves her hand. — Where do I go? Why should I?

And I understand her perfectly.

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