Kawashima in rehearsal. Photo courtesy Tulsa Ballet

25 to Watch 2018: Maine Kawashima

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.


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

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Charlene Gehm MacDougal as Lead Nursemaid in Petrushka. Photo by Herbert Migdoll, courtesy the MacDougal family.

In Memoriam: Joffrey Dancer Charlene Gehm MacDougal, 69

Former lead dancer with The Joffrey Ballet, Charlene Gehm MacDougal died of ovarian cancer on January 10 at her home in New York City, age 69.

Gehm illuminated the inner life of each of the varied characters in her extensive repertoire. Whether she was the gracious hostess in George Balanchine's Cotillon, the riveting Lady Capulet in John Cranko's Romeo and Juliet, or in the tumult of William Forsythe's Love Songs, she drew the viewer's eye and heart to the essence of the role.

As Forsythe puts it: "Charlene was certainly one of the most elegant dancers I have had the privilege to work with. Her striking countenance flowed into her work and, joined with her wicked sense of humor and intelligence, created thoughtful, mesmerizing and memorable art."

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February 2021