Yukari Saito was appointed Artistic Director of The Tokyo Ballet in 2015.
Born in Yokohama, Kanagawa Prefecture, Saito began her ballet training at the age of six with her mother who was a professional dancer. From the age of 16, she frequently visited Moscow to take lessons with Marina Semionova and Ekaterina Maximova. After gaining stage experience both within and outside Japan, she joined The Tokyo Ballet in 1987. Her poetic and dramatic expression was quickly rewarded.
While touring Europe with The Tokyo Ballet in 1988, Saito was chosen to dance the role of Lady Kaoyo, the heroine of Maurice Béjart's The Kabuki, and greatly impressed dance critics throughout Europe. In "Béjart's Ballet Gala" also held in 1988, she performed Bugaku with dancers of the Béjart Ballet Lausanne at Béjart's request. Her artistic excellence inspired another great choreographer John Neumeier to create Seven Haiku of the Moon, which premiered in 1989. During The Tokyo Ballet's Russia tour in 1992, she danced the leading role in La Sylphide at the Bolshoi Theatre, the Mariinsky Theatre and the Kiev National Shevchenko Theatre, drawing lavish praise from Russian critics who called her a "Japanese Marie Taglioni".
During her 28 years with The Tokyo Ballet, Saito danced a full range of the Company's principal roles. She performed many world premieres and The Tokyo Ballet's premieres including John Neumeier's Seasons -The Colors of Time (2000) , Spring and Fall (2000), Lady of the Camellias (2004), Maurice Béjart's Bhakti III (2000), Jiří Kylián's Dream Time (2000), Vladimir Vasiliev's Don Quixote (2001), Frederick Ashton's The Dream (2005), Pierre Lacotte's La Fille du Danube (2006), Natalia Makarova's La Bayadère (2009) and John Cranko's Onegin (2010). She was also acclaimed as a guest artist at major theaters around the world.
In 2002, Saito published an autobiography titled Yukaryusha to portray her life as a dancer, mother and woman. Since 2004, she has been a member of the jury at The Russian Open Ballet Competition "Arabesque". In 2009, she graduated from the Moscow State Academy of Choreography with highest honors in ballet master and ballet teaching, and obtained ballet teaching qualifications.
Her awards include the Hattori Chieko Award, the Tokyo Shimbun's Dance Arts Award, the Kanagawa Bunka Award and the Medal of Honor with Purple Ribbon awarded by the Japanese government.
Born in Kumamoto, Kazuo Kimura began his ballet studies at the age of 8. He joined The Tokyo Ballet in 1984.
For the premiere performance of Neumeier's "SEVEN HAIKU OF THE MOON" in 1989, Kimura was chosen by the choreographer to make his leading-role debut at the age of 19. He has since danced leading roles in such ballets as, "THE NUTCRACKER," "SWAN LAKE"; Lacotte's "LA SYLPHIDE," Balanchine's "THEME AND VARIATIONS", "LE PALAIS DE CRISTAL", and "BALLET IMPERIAL"; Béjart's "L'OISEAU DE FEU", "BHAKTI", "MANDARINE MERVEILLEUX"; Blaska's "TAM-TAM ET PERCUSSION"; Kylián's "STEPPING STONES", "SYMPHONY IN D" and "DREAMTIME"; the 'Mazurka' and 'Adage' of Lifar's "SUITE EN BLANC", Alonso's"CARMEN," Fokine's "LE SPECTRE DE LA ROSE," "LES SYLPHIDES," Lander's "ETUDES," among others.
He has also danced other important roles such as 'Blue Bird' and 'Four Princes' in "THE SLEEPING BEAUTY", 'Hilarion' in "GISELLE", 'Rothbart' and 'Pas de trois' in "SWAN LAKE", 'Pas de deux' in "LA SYLPHIDE", 'Morono' in Béjart's "THE KABUKI", 'Deux chefs' in "LE SACRE DU PRINTEMPS", 'L'ami' in "PETROUCHKA", 'Grand pas de deux' and 'Paris' in "CASSE-NOISETTE", and in "BOLERO".
Mr. Kimura created the role of 'Rikiya', who is Yuranosuke's son in Béjart's "THE KABUKI" in 1986, 'III－san' (one of Yukio Mishima's alter egos) in Béjart's "M" in 1993, and 'Time' in Neumeier's "SEASONS - the colors of time" in 2000. Mr. Kimura also danced 'Basilio' and 'Espada' in the premiere of "DON QUIXOTE" of Vassiliev's version in 2001. In 2005, he danced the role of 'Oberon' in the Tokyo Ballet premiere of Ashton's "THE DREAM"" and in 2006, he danced 'Rudolf' in Pierre Lacotte's "La Fille du Danube."
Born in Kanagawa, Mizuka Ueno began her ballet studies at the age of 5. In 1989, she won the first prize at the Japan dance competition in Saitama. Having won the Prix du Lausanne Scholarship in 1993, she entered the Academy du Danse Classique Princess Grace in Monaco.
Upon graduation from the school at the top of the class, she joined Asami Maki Ballet in Tokyo in 1995.
Ms. Ueno received the gold medal at the World Ballet and Modern Dance Competition in 1996. In February 1999, she danced in the gala performances "Roland Petit and stars" in Mexico. She made her debut as Odette/Odile in "SWAN LAKE" in July 1999, and danced the role again in March, 2000.
She created the soloist role in Roland Petit's "DUKE ELLINGTON BALLET" in July 2001, danced 'Kitri' in "DON QUIXOTE" in March 2002, and 'Esmeralda' in Petit's "NOTRE DAME DE PARIS" with the Ballet of the Teatro alla Scala in Milan. She has also danced in "DUKE ELLINGTON BALLET" as a guest with the Ballet of Teatro San Carlo in Naples. She was awarded the Recommended Artists Prize in the category of "New artist of 2001" by the Minister of Education and Culture of Japan, Einosuke Nakagawa Prize by Tokyo Shimbun (newspaper). In February 2003, she danced the role of 'Juliet' in "ROMEO AND JULIET", 'Esmeralda' in "NOTRE DAME DE PARIS" in August, and made her debut as 'Princess Aurora' in "SLEEPING BEAUTY" in October.
In 2004, Ms. Ueno left Asami Maki Ballet in February and joined the Tokyo Ballet in March. With the Tokyo Ballet, her repertory includes, 'Kitri' in "DON QUIXOTE," 'Princess Aurora' and the 'Lilac Fairy' in "SLEEPING BEAUTY," 'Clara' in "THE NUTCRACKER," 'Odette/Odile' in "SWAN LAKE," the 'Lucile Grahn role' in "PAS DE QUATRE," soloist role in Balanchine's "THEME AND VARIATIONS" and "BALLET IMPERIAL," 'Étoile' in "ÉTUDES," as well as many leading roles in Maurice Béjart's ballets, including 'meolody' in "BOLÉRO," 'Shakti' in "BHAKTI III," 'Rose' in "M," 'young girl' in "LE SACRE DU PRINTEMPS," and the 3rd Variation in "DON GIOVANNI."
In 2004, she danced 'Odette/Odile' in "SWAN LAKE" opposite Vladimir Malakhov. In 2005, she danced the role of 'Titania' in the Tokyo Ballet premiere of Ashton's "THE DREAM." In 2007, she was invited to Corpo di Ballo del Teatro alla Scala's "DON QUIXOTE" to dance 'Kitri' opposite Leonid Sarafanov during the company's Japan tour, and also invited to dance "BHAKTI III" at Teatro Municipal de Santiago's 150 year anniversary Gala.
Mika Yoshioka was born in Matsuyama. Having studied abroad in Moscow and St. Gallen in Switzerland, she joined The Tokyo Ballet in 1989.
In 1993, Ms. Yoshioka made her debut as 'Lady Kaoyo', heroine in Béjart's "THE KABUKI" and was promoted to principal dancer. She has since danced almost all leading roles of the company's repertoire, including 'Odette/Odile' in "SWAN LAKE", 'Princess Aurora' in "THE SLEEPING BEUATY", the title role in "GISELLE", Lacotte's "LA SYLPHIDE", 'Kitri' in"DON QUIXOTE" (Vassiliev's version in 2001), 'Etoile' in Balanchine's "THEME AND VARIATIONS" and "BALLET IMPERIAL," the 'Marie Taglioni role' in "PAS DE QUATRE," 'Etoile' in LANDER'S "ETUDES," 'la Jeune Fille' in Fokine's "LE SPECTRE DE LA ROSE," 'cigarette' and 'adage' in Lifar's "SUITE EN BLANC", Kylián's "STEPPING STONES", "SYMPHONY IN D" and "DREAMTIME," as well as roles in many of Béjart's ballets, including 'la mère' in "CASSE-NOISETTE", 'L'Élue' in "LE SACRE DU PRINTEMPS," "L'OISEAU DE FEU", "DON GIOVANNI", "BHAKTI", "DANSES GRECQUES." She has danced Odette/Odile, Princess Aurora, Giselle with Vladimir Malakhov in 1997, 1998, 2004, and 2006. In 2005, she danced the title role of Lacotte's "LA SYLPHIDE" with Mathieu Ganio of the Paris Opera Ballet. In 2007, she danced "GISELLE" with Fridemann Vogel of the Stuttgart Ballet, and "LE SPECTRE DE LA ROSE" opposite Mathias Heymann of the Paris Opera Ballet.
Ms. Yoshioka created 'la femme' in Béjart's "M" in 1993, Kylián's "PERFECT CONCEPTION" in 1994, and 'Spring' and 'Summer' in Neumeier's "SEASONS - THE COLORS OF TIME" in 2000. She also danced 'Titania' in the Tokyo Ballet premiere of Ashton's "THE DREAM" in 2005 and 'Fleur des Champs' in Lacotte's "LA FILLE DU DANUBE " in 2006. She was invited to St-Florent Festival in Angèrs, France, to dance "PERFECT CONCEPTION" in July 1994, to the Staatsballett Berlin to dance 'Princess Aurora' in "SLEEPING BEAUTY" opposite Vladimir Malkhov in 2006, and to "Malkhov and Friends" at Deutsche Oper Berlin to dance "SPRING AND FALL" and the pas de deux from "LA SYLPHIDE"" in 2007.