As a first-timer in the corps of Concerto Barocco, Mayumi Enokibara exercised a basic tenet: to find joy in a challenge. Though in the end she felt exhausted by the nonstop, intricately entwined Balanchine steps, the Brazilian-born ballerina—in her fourth year, following an apprenticeship, at Miami City Ballet—calls that performance last season's high point. "I loved giving it my all!" she says.
A growing number of ballets have let this MCB School alumna reach for the top. Sparkling with personality, she brings individual gusto to action-packed works. Yet she never loses rapport with her dance companions. "In Tschaikovsky Piano Concerto, my eyes were everywhere," she says, stressing she drew special energy from the principals. Equally alert in Brahms/Handel, she tore through the Jerome Robbins/Twyla Tharp choreography, coming to relish its collective quirks.
While nursing a shoulder injury last fall, Enokibara gained a more holistic view of ballet. "Watching like an audience member," she says, "I appreciated the beauty in everything coming together." Sure, it felt great to return to The Nutcracker as a Marzipan Shepherdess—but now she understands better how every waltzing Flower perfumes the whole bouquet.