Cupcakes & Conversation with Yuriko Kajiya, Soloist, American Ballet Theatre

March 6, 2012

Cupcakes & Conversation

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Cupcakes & Conversation with Yuriko Kajiya, Soloist, American Ballet Theatre

ballet dancer headshot


What motivates you at 8am on a Monday morning ?

Work on whatever ballet/role I’m working at the time and make more progress.

What are you looking forward to dancing this year ?

I have a première of Giselle coming up on March 25th in Chicago. Very excited.

Who would you most like to dance with & what would you dance ?

I can’t name one person, but I would love to dance with more experienced dancers, so I can learn from them.

ballet dancer in jete

Yuriko Kajiya Photograph : Gene Schiavone

If you could dance anywhere in the world (not only in a theatre), where would you dance ?

I feel that going to the theater is a time when you can escape from the present and be lost in another world. There are so many places that have had catastrophes in the past couple of years (for instance the tsunami in Japan), I as a performer could help them for a few hours by bringing the joy of ballet to their lives. It might not change much but hopefully it could make them smile.

How do you prepare your pointe shoes ?

I cut the insole in half and water the box of the shoe when I first put them on.

What is your daily routine at the moment ?

I’m watching different interpretations of Giselle. I think it is very important to learn from all the past dancers. Even though technique has progressed quite a lot, I can still learn so much from great dancers from decades ago.

What would surprise people about you ?

I left home when I was ten to go to China to train at the Shanghai Ballet School.

Who inspired you to dance ?

No one really.. It just kind of happened and I’m very happy.\ ^0^ /

What is your best piece of advice ?

It is important to be happy in life outside of dance. You need to accept who you are, because that translates into your dancing.

ballet dancer in a long white dress


How do you prepare in the hours before a show ?

Usually at ABT we have rehearsals until two hours before the show.  I always try to take a power nap. Maybe ten minutes; it depends on how much time I have. No matter how tired you are, it’s amazing how much that ten minute nap can do ! I guess that’s why it’s called a “power nap.”

Which role has tested you the most & how ?

Theme and Variations. Coming from Shanghai, Balanchine’s steps and speed are something I have never done before. It was very challenging.

What do you look for in a dance partner ?

Someone who, no matter what happens, who will be there for me, and also someone that I can look into their eyes and who can look back to me with feelings.

A phrase I use far too often is … ?

“Let’s do it again.”

What’s been your best on-stage moment so far ?

When I can feel the dancers on stage and the audience become one. It’s a very special moment.

ballet dancers on stage

Yuriko Kajiya

In terms of your ballet career, where would you like to be in a year from now ?

I hope I’m injury free and happily dancing the best I can.

If you could dance in front of anyone, who would it be and what makes them special to you?

All the little girls who looks up to me, because when I was a little girl and I had someone I admired dancing or even talking to me, they gave me so much inspiration and courage to work harder.

ballet dancer in arabesque


Watch ABT dancers Yuriko Kajiya and Jared Matthews appear on television show So You Think You Can Dance dancing Don Quixote

Watch Yuriko Kajiya “Everything happens for a reason”


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