My name is Neha Lakhanpaul. I'm based in London and I study law at Brunel University. I started dancing when I was 3 years old at Babel Dance. I originally began learning tap and ballet. I am now in the process of starting my own arts foundation to encourage collaboration between art forms and development into the industry for young people. Personally, I am developing every day as a dancer, and broadening my horizons into the paths of spoken word and visual arts.
My choice to study law actually links a lot to where I want to go artistically; I want to create art that can change the world. This idea stemmed from the first time I watched Christopher Bruce's "Ghost Dances" choreography. I was drawn to how emotive the piece was and when I learnt about the impact it had on the world I decided it was the kind of thing I wanted to do. However, the reality of being a full-time artist didn't feel like it would guarantee me a sufficient income when I was older. I have always wanted to focus on issues that affect different people and cultures and human rights activism became my choice. Thus studying law will allow me to take up a legal profession if I want to, and if not will give me the knowledge to support my work to create campaigns that inspire change as an artist.
Opportunities are also key, lots of big industry companies offer various sessions or creative days and placements to encourage young people to explore their talent and interests. A few really key ones I can think of are Channel 4, the Radio One Academy and o2ThinkBig. It's good to look around and keep up to date with openings on their websites. Attending the things they have to offer can allow you to network, learn new skills and really count as work experience or something on your CV.
One thing to bear in mind when you're growing, whether that be as an artist or through life is that there will always be hurdles; and for me there have been quite a few. I think one instance that really threw me was damaging my hamstring last year. With a muscle injury, there is no treatment or way of telling how quickly and efficiently it will heal. Now a year later, I am just getting into regular dance sessions again. I think what you have to focus on is that there is always a solution, and even if it'll take a while, there's no harm in being patient. From being so ready to complete my Gold Leadership Project last Spring, (which was focused around a dance show) to it now having developed into starting a charity and putting on a festival has been amazing. Giving myself the time to recover has also given me perspective and allowed me to come back fighting.
The work I am now doing is slowly but steady progressing, I plan to hold a creative showcase this summer and for it to eventually develop into an annual festival. To follow my progress or get involved, check out letloose2016.wordpress.com or follow @letlooseldn.