Not many students get the opportunity to perform a variation onstage with the Mariinsky Ballet. But in April 2016, when May Nagahisa was just 15 and training at Monaco's Princess Grace Academy, the Japanese prodigy was invited to perform the Manu dance in La Bayadère with the venerable Russian company—an unprecedented honor for a non-Vaganova student.

Mariinsky director Yuri Fateyev was impressed, and just after her graduation in Monaco last June, the 17-year-old dancer started her career as a trainee in St. Petersburg. During the Mariinsky's summer tour to London, Nagahisa was assigned variations in Paquita's grand pas and La Bayadère. Her outstanding technique and épaulement made an impression, with The Telegraph praising her "ethereally light upper body." Nagahisa may well be the Mariinsky's next standout foreign soloist: Her serene classical articulation is already at home in St. Petersburg.


Find out who else made Dance Magazine's "25 to Watch" list this year.

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