Yoshiaki in La Bayadère. Photo by Rich Sofranko, Courtesy PBT.

Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre's Yoshiaki Nakano on His Choreographic Debut

Choreographing for a professional company is a major honor for any dancer. For Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre principal Yoshiaki Nakano, it's an even bigger deal: He's the first company dancer to debut mainstage work during Terrence Orr's 19 years as artistic director. Nakano's neoclassical ballet, A Fellow Feeling, premieres Mar. 10-13. For Pointe's free bi-monthly newsletter, we spoke with him about this milestone.

How does it feel to make work for your fellow dancers?

It means a lot to me. I always wanted to choreograph on a professional company, so this is my dream come true. It also feels easier here since I already know the dancers.

How did you start choreographing?

My mom was my ballet teacher, and when I was, I think, 16 years old, I had to dance a contemporary piece for one of the biggest competitions in Japan. She couldn't afford to hire a choreographer, so she said, "You make it." The process of creating a new piece was actually fun, so I kept choreographing at her studio.

What's the most challenging thing about this process?

I'm actually in the piece, so when we're rehearsing, I'm watching and dancing almost at the same time. Sometimes I step back to watch the other dancers, and then I go back and work on my part. There's a lot of back and forth.

You've described your piece as neoclassical. What attracts you to that vein of movement?

Making movement that's slightly different than classical is more interesting for me. And I've danced in pieces by choreographers like Jirí Kylián, William Forsythe and Mark Morris. They're somewhere between contemporary and ballet, so I got inspired by them.

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How to Support the Black Dance Community, Beyond Social Media

The dance community's response to the death of George Floyd was immediate and sweeping on social media. Dance artists, including Desmond Richardson and Martha Nichols, used their social platforms to make meaningful statements about racial inequality. Theresa Ruth Howard's leadership spurred ballet companies including Dance Theatre of Harlem, American Ballet Theatre, and New York City Ballet to pledge #BalletRelevesForBlackLives. Among the most vocal supporters have been dance students, who continue to share the faces and gut-wrenching last words of Black men and women who have died in police custody on their Instagram feeds and Stories.

The work we're doing on social media as a community is important and necessary—and we should keep at it. But now, that momentum must also carry us into taking action. Because to be a true ally, action is required.

A responsible ally amplifies Black voices­­. They choose to listen rather than speak. And they willingly throw their support, and, if they can, their dollars, behind Black dancers and Black dance organizations. Here are some ways you can do your part.

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Class of 2020, These Ballet Stars Have a Heartfelt Video Message Just for You

Congratulations to this year's graduating seniors!

You might not have had the chance to take that long planned-for final bow, but we're here to cheer you on and celebrate all that you've accomplished. And we've brought together stars from across the ballet world to help us; check out the video to hear their best wishes for your futures.

To further fête all of the ballet grads out there, we're also giving away 100 free subscriptions to Pointe... plus, one lucky bunhead will receive a personalized message from one of ballet's biggest stars. Click here to enter!

Tulsa Ballet in Ma Cong's Tchaikovsky: The Man Behind the Music. Kate Luber Photography, Courtesy Tulsa Ballet.

Updated: Mark Your Calendars for These Online Ballet Performances

Updated on 5/27/2020

Since COVID-19 has forced ballet companies around the world to cancel performances—and even the remainder of their seasons—many are keeping their audiences engaged by streaming or posting pre-recorded performances onto their websites or social media channels. To help keep you inspired during these challenging times, we've put together a list of upcoming streaming events and digital performances.

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