Yan Revazov, Courtesy Staatsballett Berlin

2019 Stars of the Corps: Staatsballett Berlin's Yuria Isaka

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."

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La'Toya Princess Jackson, Courtesy MoBBallet

Join Memoirs of Blacks in Ballet for Its 2020 Virtual Symposium

Memoirs of Blacks in Ballet, founded in 2015 by writer and activist Theresa Ruth Howard to preserve and promote the stories of Black ballet dancers, is offering three weekends of interactive education and conversation this month through its 2020 Virtual Symposium. The conference, titled "Education, Communication, Restoration," encourages participants to engage in candid discussions concerning racial inequality and social justice in ballet. While it is a space that centers on Blackness, all are welcome. Held August 14, 15, 21, 22 and 28, MoBBallet's second annual symposium will allow dancers to receive mentorship and openly speak about their personal experiences in a safe and empowering environment.

The first event, For Us By Us (FUBU) Town Hall, is a free community discussion on August 14 from 3:30–4:30 pm EDT via Zoom, followed by a forum for ballet leadership. The town hall format encourages active engagement (participants can raise their hands and respond in real time), but the registration invoice also contains a form for submitting questions in advance. The following discussions, forums and presentations include topics like company life as a Black dancer, developing personal activism, issues of equity and colorism in ballet companies, and more. Tickets range from free to $12 for each 60- to 80-minute event.

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Revisiting Pointe's Past Cover Stars: Adji Cissoko (August/September 2011)

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