The Brilliant New Artistic Director, Yukari Saito, Spreads Her Wings
Don't Miss the First Performance of the Vladimir Bourmeister Staging of Swan Lake!

Having served for many years as the prima ballerina of the Tokyo Ballet, Yukari Saito assumed the position of the troupe's artistic director this past August. This performance will be the first major project under her charge. In addition to her abundant experience as a dancer, her profound understanding of the culture of ballet, and her training as a ballet master in Russia, Saito has already received high praise for her backstage involvement in productions at the Moscow Musical Theater Ballet and in productions of La Sylphide and Don Quixote at the Tokyo Ballet. With this production, Saito will display the full potential of her celebrated genius.

What makes Vladimir Bourmeister's staging of Swan Lake so enchanting is encapsulated in the choreographer's own words: "The dancer must live the life of the character he is playing onstage." Bourmeister had studied theater before becoming acquainted with ballet. In contrast to the 19th-century Petipa-Ivanov revival staging--which emphasized formal beauty--Bourmeister faithfully reproduced Tchaikovsky's original intent by adhering to the dramaturgy of the composer's original score, thereby restoring a dramatic narrativity to the ballet. This staging was a major success worldwide, and it has earned the distinction of being a masterpiece production.

The Tokyo Ballet has received acclaim for its stagings of numerous classical ballets and, in more recent years, dramatic ballets, including Onegin and Romeo and Juliet. Now that the Tokyo Ballet has gained Yukari Saito as its new artistic director--shortly after the troupe's 50th anniversary--this truly presents the peak opportunity to perform the Bourmeister version of Swan Lake, which combines the classical with the dramatic.

This performance will have three pairs of lead performers: Mizuka Ueno and Dan Tsukamoto, who continue their glamorous presence as the Tokyo Ballet's top duo; Rie Watanabe, acclaimed for her graceful dancing in La Sylphide and Giselle, paired with the notable Yasuomi Akimoto, who joined the troupe after receiving overwhelming praise for his ability in the August auditions; and Mamiko Kawashima plus Hideo Kishimoto, who were celebrated for their elegant performances in the February production of The Sleeping Beauty.

Expect a new era for the Tokyo Ballet in 2016, ushered in with the Bourmeister-staged version of Swan Lake.

What Is the Bourmeister Version of Swan Lake?

This dramatic staging of Swan Lake (first performed in 1953) by Russian choreographer Vladimir Bourmeister was a worldwide success. Bourmeister went back to Tchaikovsky's original score, heightening the drama and changing the greatest highlight of the ballet--the third act--into a dramatic development in which folk dancers become the devil's minions and bewitch the prince. In 1960, the Paris Opera adopted this version for its first production of Swan Lake. The staging also became part of the repertoire of La Scala Theatre Ballet in Milan.

Yukari Saito, Artistic director of the Tokyo Ballet

Saito joined the Tokyo Ballet in 1987 and went on to perform as a prima ballerina for many years. With her poetic and graceful dancing and dramatic expressiveness, she immediately blossomed into a star performer. She has played the lead role in all the major classical full-length ballets. In 2010, Saito won the 27th Chieko Hattori Ballet Prize, the Tokyo Shimbun Dancing Arts Award, and the Yokohama Cultural Award for her performance as Tatiana in Onegin. She has also performed works by Béjart, Kylián, and Neumeier, and she has given numerous guest performances overseas. In 2005, she graduated top of her class from the Moscow State Academy of Choreography (the Bolshoi Ballet Academy) and went on to gain experience as a ballet instructor at the Moscow Musical Theater Ballet. In 2012, Saito won the Medal with Purple Ribbon awarded by the Japanese government. She became the artistic director of the Tokyo Ballet in August 2015.