The Dirt: Yuriko Kajiya

American Ballet Theatre soloist Yuriko Kajiya has crystal-clear technique that dazzles audiences—including the “So You Think You Can Dance” crowd, which gave her a huge ovation after she performed the Don Quixote pas de deux on the show during Season 7. This month, Kajiya will put that technique to good use as one of the grown-up Claras in ABT’s new Nutcracker, choreographed by Alexei Ratmansky. With her petite, delicate frame, Kajiya is a natural choice to play the “not a girl—not yet a woman” holiday heroine. Catch her and the rest of the company at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, December 22 through January 2—and read on for The Dirt!  —Margaret Fuhrer

 

If you could work with any choreographer, past or present, who would it be? Petipa, Balanchine, Ashton, MacMillan...I would LOVE to see how all the greatest ballets are created.

Must-see T.V. show: Top Chef. I also like CSI.

What’s your biggest guilty pleasure? I love ice cream!

One thing most people don’t know about you: I left home when I was ten and went to Shanghai Ballet School. As a result I speak Japanese, English and Chinese fluently.

What did you want to be when you were a teen? Nurse, flight attendant, and a ballerina.

One thing you can’t live without: My MacBook Pro

Favorite city in the world: New York! I am so happy that it is my home.

 

Latest Posts


Trans dancer, choreographer, and activist Sean Dorsey in his work Boys in Trouble (Keegan Marling, courtesy Sean Dorsey Dance)

8 Phenomenal Trans and GNC Dancers to Follow

Whether through color-specific costumes, classes separated by sex, or the "traditional" view of the roles boys and girls should play in ballet, most dance students are taught that their gender determines their role in the studio beginning in elementary school. And, especially for those struggling with their own gender identity, that can cause harm and confusion. "From a very young age, I did not see myself reflected anywhere in the modern dance field," says trans dancer, choreographer, and activist Sean Dorsey. "There was a really intense message I received, which was that my body and identity don't have a place here."

Despite significant societal progress in regards to gender representation, the dance world has trailed behind, and many transgender and gender nonconforming teenagers still feel lost within the world of dance. Prominent trans and GNC professional dancers are few and far between. "Being a Black trans woman means I have to work extra, extra, extra hard, because I have to set the tone for the people who come after me," says Brielle "Tatianna" Rheames, a distinguished voguer.

But the rise of social platforms has given Rheames, Dorsey, and other trans and GNC dancers a path to visibility—and that visibility helps create community and change lives. "Social media plays an extremely big part," Rheames says. "You can't just hide us anymore." Here are eight incredible trans and GNC dancers to add to your own Instagram feed.

Keep Reading SHOW LESS
Project 21 dancers (from left) Selena Hamilton, Gracyn French, and Dyllan Blackburn (Photo by Quinn Wharton; hair and makeup throughout by Angela Huff for Mark Edward Inc.)

How Project 21 Is Shaping the Next Generation of Competition-Dance Standouts

"I wish I had a better story about the name," says Molly Long, founder of the Orange County, CA–based dance studio Project 21. In truth, it's a play on the fact that she was born on the twenty-first of August, and 21 is her favorite number. "I was away on a teaching tour, the audition announcement was going live on Instagram the next day, and I desperately needed a name. Project 21 was just the least cheesy of the options I thought of!"

The fact that fans might expect the name to have some profound meaning speaks to the near-mythic status Project 21 has achieved on the competition and convention scene since its founding in 2014. Long's dancers are all wholly individual, yet jell seamlessly as a group, and are consistently snagging top prizes everywhere on the circuit. Each season brings a slew of new accolades, high-caliber faculty, and legions of devoted followers.

The industry has taken notice of the studio's unique ethos. "Molly gets through to her dancers in a special way, and they have this incomparable level of commitment to their craft as a result," says dancer and choreographer Billy Bell, who's worked closely with Long and her dancers. "That's what sets them apart—it's like a little dose of magic."

Keep Reading SHOW LESS

Editors' Picks

contest
Enter the Cover Model Search