Yuria Isaka: "Ballet is my life and my passion"
18-year-old Yuria Isaka, a graduate of the Princess Grace Academy, joined the Staatsballett Berlin this season. Being the company’s youngest member, on November 25 she debuted on stage of the Deutsche Oper Berlin with the first serious role in her career – Yuria danced Clara in Burlaka-Medvedev’s production of “The Nutcracker” with Daniil Simkin. We had a talk with Yuria about the beginning of her career and her attitude to “The Nutcracker” before the performance.
How did you start doing ballet? Was it your own decision or your mum's, maybe?
Yes, my mum wanted me to dance, so I started doing ballet at the age of 6. When I was 15, I entered the Princess Grace Academy of Ballet in Monaco. After my graduation I joined the Staatsballet Berlin.
Almost all ballet artists say that ballet children are different from other children because from their early age they are accustomed to pain and hard work. Do you agree with it?
Where did you find motivation for your studies?
From my family, friends and people who support me, it gave me motivation.
What is your relationship with pain? I mean that sometimes this profession can be really hurtful.
Actually, it doesn't hurt so much until now. Of course, sometimes I have muscle pain but it's normal for dancers. Stretching and massage every day is important. I want to prevent possible injuries, so I have to take care of myself.
Can you please name three most talented Japanese dancers of your generation?
The first one is May Nagahisa, then Rina Kanehara and the third one I couldn't think of. They are also from the Princess Grace Academy, and they are doing really good.
Do you think Japanese artists express feelings in a different way?
Yes, I believe so because Japanese personality is very sensitive, and we also pay attention to details, so in dance you can see it very much.
Why is art, to be more exact, ballet so loved in Japan?
As I said, our personality is very delicate, and the same in classical music. I think It matches Japanese personality.
Do you think feelings and emotions are exaggerated in ballet?
For me, it's easier to express feelings in ballet. Talking is much harder. To show emotions through my body in a ballet is better for me.
Do you think such love stories exist in a real life?
Yes, all these stories come from a real life and then are expressed in ballets. I think they exist.
What is ballet for you?
It's my life, my passion. When I dance, I feel something warm going from my heart. After a show, when public smiles, I also have warm feelings that make my life complete.
What is your favourite musical and dance part in «The Nutcracker»?
I think a pas de deux after the variation of Sugar Plum Fairy. It's because of the music which I had heard a lot of times before I knew it's from «The Nutcracker». When I hear this piece, I remember my childhood and ballet began for me. In this music there are a lot of feelings. Also I like the variation as a dance part as well.
Which toy and which dessert would you like to portray?
As for a dessert, it's chocolate because I like it very much. As for a toy, a doll, I think.
The Bolshoi's production of "The Nutcracker" doesn't have a happy ending because Yuri Grigorovich thinks Marie's goodbye to her childhood beliefs is really tragic. Do you agree with such a vision of this ballet?
Most of «Nutcrackers» have a happy ending, and I think it's good when there's another version. For me it's very nice that he thought about it.
Do you hear anything tragic in the music for this ballet?
Most of it is quite happy and very excited music for me, but, maybe, the pas de deux and snowflakes' part can seem so a bit but not all the ballet.
Your prince for the debut will be Daniil Simkin, who is already well-known around the world as a professional dancer. What is it like to dance with him?
Of course, it's like a dream. When I started ballet, he was already famous. Before the first rehearsal I was worried about what he is like, how it's going to be but he was very kind and never arrogant. He also taught me a lot of things. He is always positive and happy, he gives me energy and motivation. Yes, it’s a very precious time working with him.
How do you deal with your nervousness before your debut?
Actually, I'm not so much nervous now. As I said, Daniil's personality is very nice and positive, so, maybe, his personality will help me because he's my partner for these performances. So, I believe him and I just believe myself.
Do you believe in fairy tales?
Yes, I do. If I don’t believe, I cannot dance.
Photos by Adil Sunil