In a crowded company class at Tulsa Ballet, Maine Kawashima stands out, and not just because of her tiny size. (She's 4'11".) The 22-year-old corps de ballet member is fiercely focused, repeating combinations over and over again with tireless determination. Once class is over, she keeps going, whipping out fouettés.
"She is a technical wizard," says artistic director Marcello Angelini. "But she's also a sensitive and versatile dancer."
Kawashima, who was born in Japan but trained in the U.S., is only a third-year corps member, but she's already a favorite among visiting choreographers. During the company's recent Creations in Studio K program, Kawashima had first-cast featured roles in all three premieres.
Onstage, her almost brutish work ethic allows for utter freedom, whether as a soulful, searching loner in Annabelle Lopez Ochoa's Shibuya Blues; the lone woman among a posse of tough suits in Young Soon Hue's If; or an assertive demi-soloist in Helen Pickett's abstract Meòul. Her steely technique allows her to fearlessly plunge into movement without sacrificing grace or intention—a choreographer's dream, indeed.