Inside Yumiko Takeshima's Dance Bag

Published in the June/July 2009 issue.

Photo by Sarah Keough

Dresden SemperOper Ballett principal dancer Yumiko Takeshima knows a thing or two about time management. When she’s not rehearsing, she’s designing for Yumiko, her trendy dancewear line. “I never have a holiday!” she says. “But I don’t feel like it’s a job—I really enjoy it.”

Her dance bag reflects her dual worlds. She listens to music on her iPhone  (“I’m loving Jennifer Hudson’s album right now”), but the device also comes in handy if she needs to check her e-mail for new leotard orders. Her darned pointe shoes rest alongside her color chart.

An avid reader, Takeshima usually has a book with her. When Pointe caught up with her, she was reading TOYOTA no dekiruhito no shigotoburi (Learning From Toyota’s Top Workers) by Sumie Ishii. “The people at Toyota have the most amazing ways to run their business,” she says.

Before joining the SemperOper in 2006, Japanese-born Takeshima was a principal dancer with Dutch National Ballet, where she began designing custom leotards as a hobby. Her sleek styles became so popular that she decided to start her own company. She recently opened the first Yumiko retail store in New York City.

Why are her leotards in such hot demand? “Well, they’re very comfortable,” she says. “I have a dancer’s eye, so I focus a lot on cut and proportion.” There’s also a personal element to Takeshima’s designs: A dancer friend inspires each one. “Just watching my colleagues dance gives me so much inspiration,” she says. Her latest leotard, “Becky,” is named after Becky Gladstone, a dancer in Dresden. And Yumiko’s “Veronique” design will be cut to show off the tattoo on her friend Veronique Breen’s back.