Japanese Dancers at the English National Ballet

ENB Le Corsaire

Things have got a lot more exciting in the London ballet world since Tamara Rojo took over as Artistic Director of the English National Ballet. Suddenly there’s a buzz around London’s second ballet company. We expected her to do amazing things and she has – including poaching one of the Royal Ballet’s top dancers, Alina Cojocaru, to star in ENB’s new production of Le Corsaire. It’s a show that features many of the company’s Japanese dancers so it’s a good chance to take a look at some of them.

The ENB has a great mix of dancers of different nationalities – it’s part of what makes them so interesting to watch, and Le Corsaire is a fabulous showcase for them. It’s a jolly romp full of slave girls and pirates, harem girls and rich sultans, in a story of love and betrayal with fabulous costumes and great dancing. Unfortunately the London run has ended but you can still catch it in Manchester at the Palace Theatre from 11th to 15th February.

ENB Le Corsaire

Lead principal Erina Takahashi dances the role of the heroine, Medora, on 13th February.

Erina Takahashi She started ballet classes in Japan when she was three and came to the UK (by herself) when she was fifteen to study at the English National Ballet School.

She joined the company in 1996 and has been a lead principal since 2007.

She’s a neat, elegant dancer who’s always a pleasure to watch.

Le Corsaire

Erina Takahashi (Guinare) and Dmitri Gruzdyev (Lankendem) in Le Corsaire.
© Dave Morgan

Soloist Shiori Kase dances Guinare on 12th February and the matinée on 15th February.

Shiori KaseShe’s from Tokyo and trained at the Royal Ballet School.

She joined ENB in 2009 and won the Emerging Dancer Award in 2011. She was promoted to soloist in 2013.

She’s an attractive dancer and it’s good to see her getting on in the company.

ENB Le Corsaire

Artist Ken Saruhashi is one to watch. He comes from Shiga in Japan and studied at the English National Ballet School.

Ken Saruhashi

Though he’s ranked only as an artist (the first rung on the ladder at ENB) he’s already dancing major roles – see him as Lankendem on 11th and 14th February, and as Ali on 13th February matinée and 15th February.

Le Corsaire

Ken Saruhashi as Lankendem in Le Corsaire © John Ross

Junior Soloist Senri Kou is from Gifu Prefecture.

Senri Kou

She previously danced at the Peter Schaufuss Ballet and has been with the ENB since 2005.

Junior Soloist Kei Akahoshi is from Okayama.

Kei AkahoshiShe studied at the English National Ballet School and joined the company in 2002. She’s married to ENB soloist Daniel Jones.

Le Corsaire

Children from Tring School and artists of ENB © John Ross

First Artist Makoto Nakamura is from Tokyo and previously danced with the Tokyo New National Ballet. He joined ENB in 2009.

Makoto NakamuraArtist Sayako Tomiyoshi is from Tokyo. She trained at the English National Ballet School and joined ENB in 2008.

Sayako TomiyoshiI can’t resist adding the latest news in the Royal Ballet/English National Ballet rivalry. Vadim Muntagirov, the ENB’s talented young lead principal, who has been dancing the lead role of Conrad in Le Corsaire, has just been poached by the Royal Ballet. Looks like Tamara Rojo is not going to have it all her own way.

Le Corsaire

2 thoughts on “Japanese Dancers at the English National Ballet

  1. I read just now that the first and second prize winners at this year’s Lausanne competition were Japanese, Haruo Niyama (guy) and Sae Maeda (girl), respectively. Also in the 6th place was another Japanese girl. 😀


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