Welcome back to our Meet the Artist series! As part of the 15th anniversary Presenting Series season, Indiana’s own Indianapolis Ballet is coming to the DeBartolo Performing Arts Center for a night of beautiful ballet by George Balanchine. To give you a behind-the-scenes look at the hard work and love that goes into a career in ballet, Yoshiko Kamikusa, one of the dancers, answered some questions about her passion for dance. Here is an in-depth look at what goes into the life of a dancer with a brilliant ballet company like the Indianapolis Ballet!
What has been your biggest challenge as a dancer?
Being a dancer is a full-time job and at times the demands of the profession can be very stressful, physically and mentally. We are constantly under pressure to perform well and prove ourselves daily so there are moments when I struggle with myself and feel overwhelmed. Even so, I’m fortunate to have amazing parents who are always supportive of me and give solid advice when I need it. Honestly, a strong and positive mentality goes a long way and I think it’s essential if you want to succeed in any career.
What is your favorite ballet to watch? To dance?
I can’t pick one, so my favorite ballets to both watch and dance would be Don Quixote, Swan Lake, and Serenade.
How often do you rehearse?
Although the schedule changes when we have performances and special events, the company normally rehearses five days a week, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. We also always have a ballet class at the beginning of the day to refine and work on our technique which allows us to warm up properly before heading into rehearsals.
The professional company debuted in 2018; how long has the Indianapolis Ballet School been open?
The Indianapolis School of Ballet has been open since 2006.
What is the most rewarding part about being a dancer and why?
Being on stage and performing. Although dancers are constantly rehearsing and the process is extremely important, we ultimately exist to put on a show for an audience. Nothing can quite explain the feelings we experience during a live performance and it’s unique to each individual. A really good show, for me, is one where everything falls into place. It’s not about the steps or acting, but simply living through every second of the journey you’ll have on stage that day. I especially love the moments of connection dancers share with each other on stage, and when there is the added energy of a passionate audience, it’s very special.
Do you prefer classic ballets or contemporary pieces? Why?
I prefer classical ballets because there’s something about the tradition and timeless feel of masterpieces like Swan Lake, La Bayadere, Giselle, and Don Quixote, to name a few. I also grew up watching countless DVDs of amazing ballerinas dancing all the great classics (thanks to my mom, who was invested in my ballet education) and though I don’t believe I knew it at the time, I was falling in love with the art form through this experience. A part of me was certain that I wanted to be Odette or Kitri someday, and I guess that led me to where I am today!
What advice would you give to aspiring dancers?
For anyone truly wanting to become a professional dancer, I would say: always commit to class and rehearsals. Be prepared; really know your strengths and work on your weaknesses. Stay motivated; be humble but believe in yourself. Keep an open mind and never lose sight of what made you want to dance in the first place. The dance world is a challenging place full of setbacks and obstacles but, the way I see it, if you want it badly enough and you work with diligence, things will turn out one way or another. It really is an extraordinary profession and, in the end, it is worth all the effort.
Many thanks to Yoshiko for her personal look into ballet performance and a glimpse of the life of a professional dancer! To see her and the rest of the company, get your tickets to the Indianapolis Ballet at the Center on October 3–4. Stick around for a meet and greet with the company after the October 3 show if you want to know more about their performance and career.
Making its debut in 2018, the Indianapolis Ballet is the first professional ballet company in the state’s capital in more than a decade. Affiliated with the Indianapolis School of Ballet the company brings us a top-notch program of works by George Balanchine, the “father of American ballet.”
Thursday + Friday, Oct 3–4, 2019