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The Current Situation of Japanese Ballet Companies

This is from my posts in the ballet forum Ballet Talk.

In my opinion, if I have to list a few Japanese troups, it will be New National Theater Ballet, Tokyo Ballet, Asami Maki Ballet and K-Ballet. One of the reasons is the issue that those troups the dancers are paid salaries.
In many so-called "professional" ballet troups in Japan, dancers are not paid salaries and they have only wages per stage. They have to make a living with teaching ballet, guesting in ballet school performances and/or part-time jobs.
Especially for female dancers, they are obliged to sell performance tickets to appear in them, and that is sometimes a huge amout. In that context, at least the troups listed above have none of this.
So many dancers go to companies abroad to be actually professional and seek opportunities. Also the big problem is the lack of formal ballet education, and young dancers who want to be professional have to go to ballet schools abroad.

Tokyo Ballet
They are known for Maurice Bejart works and tours Europe every year. Also they had some good male dancers, but that is becoming to be history. Mizuka Ueno is an international star but this troup has a weak point in corps de ballet. Not all of them are beautifully proportioned. Many famous star dancers such as Manuel Legris, Vladimir Malakhov and Sylvie Guillem guests here because of the connecion of impresario Tadatugu Sasaki of NBS. He is who runs this company making international connection.

Matsuyama Ballet
Yoko Morishita & T. Shimizu still dances but no other dancers seem to arise, and if Morishita retires I think this troup will be over.

New National Theater Ballet
As some of the American audience have seen in Washington, the corps de ballet of this troup is amazingly beautiful, well trained and female dancers have beautiful proportions. The problem is that there are few soloists that can virtually dance the leading role. Hiromi Terashima, Hana Sakai, Maki Kawamura and Ryuji Yamamoto are the few leading dancers with that quality. Also the lack of male dancers is serious. So they tend to rely on guests.
They are eagar to make new produtions such as Aladdin by David Bintley, Orphee and Euridice by Dominic Walsh. And their repetoire is mainly classical but contains works by Roland Petit, Nacho Duato, and in the past Kenneth MacMillan. Svetlana Zahkarova and Denis Matvienko are regular guests.
They are the only ballet trope to have a theatre of their own, but The New National Theatre seems to put more money and management on Opera.

Asami Maki Ballet
Actually this troup is run by Asami Maki's husband Kyozo Mitani. Many (better) dancers from here also dances in New National Theater Ballet, which is quite confusing. With the emergence of New National Theater Ballet, this troup seems to decline. But they have Tachibana Ballet School which has very good students. The problem seems that most of the audience are not ballet goers, they are students who learn ballet and their parents.

K-Ballet
Indeed they boast very high production standards in classcal repetoire, and Viviana Durante and Miyako Yoshida, Shoko Makamura are guest principals. Anthony Dowell also guests. Tetsuya Kumakawa is extremely popular in Japan, but as he had an serious injury last summer and is still away from the stage, there is no next star and the tickets sales seem not so good, although there are some good dancers such as Kenta Shimizu, former soloist of Miami City Ballet. Tetsuya Kumakawa is expected to return in March or April.

NBA Ballet, Tokyo City Ballet, Star Dancers Ballet, Momoko Tani Ballet and Inoue Ballet are some troups to mention, although they lack the quality of the above four. Star Dancers Ballet often performs contemporary stuff such as Forsythe and Tudor, but all the good dancers have gone in my opinion. The performance they held in December was a disaster.

One small but good company is the Noriko Kobayashi Ballet Theatre lead by New National Theater Ballet ballet mistress Noriko Kobayashi. They often perform British stuff such as Kenneth MacMillan (The Invitation, Elite Syncopations, Concerto), Ninette de Valois (The Rake's Progress, Checkmate). Ayako Ono of New National Theater Ballet is from this company. Akiko Shimazoe is a very good dancer with high acting qualities. Dancers such as Johan Cobborg, Robert Tewsley and David Hallberg guests here.

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