Rosalie O'Connor; Courtesy Boston Ballet

Boston Ballet's Misa Kuranaga on Her Favorite Role and How She Stays Motivated in the Studio

What comes naturally to you?
My emotion onstage. I don't have the ideal ballerina body, so I have to move to prove myself. My strength is that I can work hard and I don't think it's hard; I enjoy it.

You went to the School of American Ballet after your apprenticeship at San Francisco Ballet. Did that experience change you?
Hugely. I had coordination and could do some tricks, but no basic technique. I came to the United States from Japan and hit the wall. What do you do? You have to fix it. SAB gave me confidence to be a dancer because I was able to fix myself.


Is there a skill you've acquired that you're particularly proud of?
I had no turnout when I came to the U.S.; that's partly why I wasn't rehired by San Francisco Ballet. American companies care about that so much, everyone has an amazing way of using their feet. I really admired that. SAB gave me turnout and footwork—I'm still working on it every day.

How do you prepare for the rehearsal day?
I take class as a training session, not just to warm up. I'm always close to the mirror, side view, checking my turnout and line to improve myself. If I see something, I fix it right away. If it doesn't come overnight, I fix it on a month plan or a year plan. That way I have a goal that motivates me every day. It's fun.

Do you have a favorite role?
My favorites are dramatic roles. I don't particularly like Kitri in Don Quixote because the story is shallow—you're just a happy girl. In Swan Lake you are half bird and half woman, depressed, and then this evil, deceptive creature. Tatiana, in Onegin, is such a shy girl, then she grows into a sophisticated married woman who has to reject her real passion. Those things are so deep, so interesting.

Are there performances or dancers you return to for inspiration?
Gelsey Kirkland's Nutcracker or Theme and Variations. Natalia Makarova. Misha Baryshnikov is still my favorite male dancer.

What is it like working with your coach, Larissa Ponomarenko?
It's really fulfilling. She's about my height, and because of that, she wasn't always the first one to be chosen. Larissa mastered how to make herself look big and long, and she teaches me all that. It's a treasure.

Latest Posts


Courtesy Tiler Peck

Tiler Peck's Top 10 Tips for Training at Home

On March 15, New York City Ballet principal Tiler Peck announced to her 172,000-plus Instagram followers that she'd be teaching a live class from her family's home in Bakersfield, California, where she's currently waiting out COVID-19. Little did she know that she'd receive such a viral response. Since then, Peck has offered daily Instagram LIVE classes Monday through Friday at 10 am PST/1 pm EST, plus an occasional Saturday class and Sunday stretch/Pilates combo. "The reaction was just so overwhelming," she says. "These classes are keeping me sane, and giving me something to look forward to."

Keep reading SHOW LESS

#TBT: Miranda Weese and Damian Woetzel in "Swan Lake" (1999)

This February, New York City Ballet presented Peter Martin's two-act version of Swan Lake. In her New York Times review, Gia Kourlas reminisced about some of NYCB's past Odette/Odiles, pointing to a masterful, and high stakes, 1999 "Live From Lincoln Center" performance starring Miranda Weese and Damian Woetzel. With just an hour's notice, Weese stepped in to dance the Swan Queen for an injured Darci Kistler. The live television broadcast was Weese and Woetzel's first time dancing these roles together, though you'd never know; in this clip of the White Swan pas de deux the pair looks connected and utterly captivating.

Keep reading SHOW LESS
An instructor from The Hive in Chicago leads class over Zoom (courtesy The Hive)

The Dance Student's Guide to Making the Best—and the Most—of At-Home Training

If you're social distancing to do your part to slow the spread of COVID-19, you've inevitably realized that training safely and successfully at home poses a significant challenge. We talked to dance experts to find out how you can make the best of this less-than-ideal scenario—and about the unexpected ways it can help you grow as a dancer and artist.

Keep reading SHOW LESS