American Repertory Ballet's Ryoko Tanaka remembers her first class in the United States. She was 18 years old and a scholarship student at the Milwaukee Ballet summer intensive. "At barre, I reached out during demi-plié, and I saw the guy across from me in the class. I could tell he was enjoying himself. I could tell these people loved ballet. And I felt I fit." From then on the Japan native, now in her first season as a full company member with ARB, was certain the U.S. was where she was meant to make her career.
For dancers like Tanaka who cross borders to join American companies, the challenges of being far from home, adjusting to a new culture and navigating visa applications quickly become a fact of life. Yet, as these expat dancers' stories show, with a little patience, dancing abroad can be an incredible adventure.