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Hope student wins dance award after swapping IT job to follow her dreams

A Liverpool Hope University student has scooped a top dance award after swapping her career as an IT engineer to follow her dreams.

Santosh Nair started dancing aged four and became so good she received a national honour– the Bal Shree award - in her native India, presented personally by the country’s president, when she was a teenager. 

She even wrote a book about traditional dance when she was 16, but studied engineering at university before moving to England to do an MBA and then working as a management consultant in London.

Santosh began to study dancing again in her spare time while also working in the capital, and was introduced to staff at Milapfest - the UK's leading Indian Arts Development Trust. 

That led her to follow her passion and move to Liverpool, to study for a PhD in dance at Hope’s creative campus, where Milapfest are based.

Santosh, who is from Kerala but was raised in Hyderabad, now teaches dance alongside her studies at the Shaw Street campus, and was delighted to be named Young Dancer of the year in the National Indian Arts Award 2019. 

“For me a degree is not something you should just do for the sake of it,” she said. “You must enjoy it. I wanted to come back to study something I loved and felt passionate about and dance is that. 

“I came to Liverpool to meet Professor Simon Piasecki and Dr Silvia Battista who would become my tutors. They have been fantastic and my journey began from there. 

“I’m very proud and happy to receive the award.” 

Santosh’s studies take in the cultural, religious and even scientific aspects of dance.

“Dance is a universal language,” she said. “It goes beyond borders of religions and even has elements of maths and science. Rhythm itself has a basis in mathematics.

“I’ve enjoyed every minute of my research. Even making mistakes was not an issue because of the guidance and support from my tutors.

“International students here have a wonderful experience.

“I’m aiming to finish by 2020 but after that I want to continue researching in some capacity and see if I can contribute more to the University. I want my research to have a practical use.”

Santosh said she hopes that her homeland can eventual embrace the academic study of arts based subjects such as dance.

“India is so rich with culture but in relation to some things, such as dance, there is still alack of academic structure,” she added.

“I want to help change that and for people in India to be able to study for a degree in dance and see a future in it.”

Santosh received her award at a special ceremony at the Southbank Centre in London on June 6.

Published on 07/06/2019