When Yuria Isaka danced the grand pas de deux in Staatsballett Berlin's The Nutcracker alongside Daniil Simkin last winter, you never would have known it was her first season as a professional; a graduate of the Princess Grace Academy in Monaco, the fledgling corps member dances with a refined maturity and pristine clarity, exuding a particularly honest and infectious joy. "It's only now starting to sink in that I got to dance Clara," admits Isaka, a native of Japan. "Daniil is so imaginative and kind, and really took time to work with me on the role. It was amazing to dance with him!"
Isaka in La Bayadère. Markus Rack, Courtesy Staatsballett Berlin.
Along with dancing her dream role, Isaka shined this season as a demi-soloist Bayadère in Alexei Ratmansky's reconstruction of La Bayadère, in the pas de trois of Patrice Bart's Swan Lake and as a carnival jester in John Cranko's Romeo and Juliet. Though she's the smallest dancer in the company, her height doesn't limit her aspirations. "I try to concentrate on myself every day, and working toward more principal roles," she says. "It helps to focus on what's in front of you."