Barkingside student left ‘gobsmacked’ after performing in Opening Ceremony

A talented biochemistry student, who has been dancing for most of her life, took centre stage for the Paralympic Opening Ceremony last night.

Sangeeta Tohani, 19, of Longwood Gardens, Barkingside performed a special dance routine in front of 80,000 people in the Olympic Stadium alongside fellow dancers from Sakthi Fine Arts, The Crescent, Gants Hill.

The Queen Mary University student auditioned back in February and she was soon told she had been selected after learning Indian classical dancing since she was about five years old.

She said: “From the very beginning the whole experience has been incredible. We saw people auditioning with disabilities, who were all catered for, which was really inspiring.

“I was determined to get involved in the Paralymics after missing out on the Olympics, which I watched constantly. And knowing that I’d be performing just around the corner from where I live was amazing.”


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Miss Tohani, who also performed during the Torch Relay in Redbridge, was part of the Navigation segment of the ceremony representing the sea.

She said: “Despite the steps being fairly simple I forgot them in the dress rehearsal because everything was so overwhelming and to see everything come together in the stadium left me gobsmacked.”

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Miss Tohani, who described the experience as “surreal” had been practising with the large group of dancers for ten hours a day for the past three weeks in preparation for the performance.

She added: “It started to rain during our section, which was quite late on, leaving the floor really wet; but we didn’t even think about it.

“Once our part was almost over everyone got really emotional because we didn’t want it to end. I have met so many people who I wouldn’t normally get a chance to meet.”

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