Mr. Tadatsugu Sasaki, Executive Director of the NBS (Japan Performing Arts Foundation) and General Director of The Tokyo Ballet, has been granted the title of Grand Officer of the French National Order of the Legion of Honor

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Left to right, H.E. Mr. Christian Masset (Ambassador of France to Japan), Ms. Brigitte Lefevre (Director of Dance at Paris Opera Ballet), Mr. Norio Takahashi (Standing Director of NBS)

The French government has awarded Mr. Tadatsugu Sasaki, who is both the Executive Director of the Japan Performing Arts Public Interest Incorporated Foundation and the General Director of The Tokyo Ballet, with the title of Grand Officer of the National Order of the Legion of Honor. The French Ambassador to Japan, Mr. Christian Masset, conferred the award in a ceremony that took place on March 23rd at the Ambassadorial residence. The day of the ceremony coincided with the Paris Opera Ballet's final show of their 2014 visit to Japan, and the conferment took place prior to a reception held at the Ambassadorial residence.

Mr. Sasaki has made his career as a stage director and producer in a wide variety of performing arts fields, including opera, ballet and theater, and in 1964 he established The Tokyo Ballet. Besides its domestic performances, since its foundation the company has visited 150 cities in 30 countries, and has performed at a host of distinguished European opera houses including the Paris Opera House, completing a total of 722 shows over the course of 26 tours.

Earlier in his career Mr. Sasaki helped to bring the French mime artist Marcel Marceau to perform in Japan, and since the eighties he has been instrumental in introducing the work of French choreographer Maurice BĂ©jart to the Japanese public. In more recent years he has brought to Japan eminent ballet dancers such as Sylvie Guillem, and exchanges with distinguished international opera houses have allowed him to invite The Paris Opera Ballet to perform in the country. Through organizing events such as the triennial World Ballet Festival, a festival which sees many of the world's top dancers assembled in a single venue, he has long strived to use art as a medium for cultural exchange.

In the words of Ambassador Masset, "Cultural exchange often has the tendency to become one-way, but Mr. Sasaki is a man who has succeeded in making exchange flow equally in both directions. This year marks the 90th anniversary of cultural partnership between Japan and France. The two countries have always shown a natural sympathy with each other, and we have also found a lot of common ground in the world of culture and the arts. Looking back, if we were asked which name has stood out over the past 90 years, I think that we would all naturally respond 'Mr. Sasaki'".

On the day Ambassador Masset applauded Mr. Sasaki's achievements and spoke of the events that had led to the awarding of this title in this 90th anniversary year of France-Japanese cultural partnership. Standing Director Mr. Norio Takahashi accepted the prize on behalf of Mr. Sasaki, who is currently recuperating.

Mr. Sasaki had previously been awarded three other honors by the French government: Knight of the Order of Arts and Letters (1985), Commander of the Order of Arts and Letters (1991), and Officer of the French National Order of the Legion of Honor (1999).