Yumi Kanazawa as Young Jane in Marston's Jane Eyre. Cheryl Mann, Courtesy The Silverman Group

For Yumi Kanazawa, a Small Dramatic Role Led to Deep Artistic Growth

Last fall, The Joffrey Ballet's Yumi Kanazawa had a breakout moment as Young Jane in Cathy Marston's Jane Eyre. "She suddenly had a dramatic role that required a lot more of her as a human being, rather than just as a dancer," says artistic director Ashley Wheater. Kanazawa played a child dealing with the death of her parents and best friend, rejection from family and a punitive reform school. Capturing all of this within Marston's cinematic choreography, Kanazawa honed the complexity of her character while showing off her technical ability. "She dug really deep," says Wheater, "and became an amazingly expressive artist."


Age: 24

Company: The Joffrey Ballet

Hometown: Tokyo, Japan

Training: South Bay Ballet, San Francisco Ballet School

On searching for "normal" ballet: Kanazawa started ballet in Japan when she was 3. "Their classes are normal ballet classes, even at that age," she says. Shortly after, her family moved to Los Angeles. Kanazawa recalls looking into a pre-ballet class and telling her mom, "This isn't ballet; I can't do this. So, my mom had to find a class for 5-year-olds that actually did barre and center."

With her arms extended as she falls forward off pointe, Yumi Kanazawa, in a short, blue dress, is partnered by two shirtless men.

Yumi Kanazawa, Evan Boersma and Stefan Goncalvez in Stephanie Martinez's Bliss!

Todd Rosenberg Photography, Courtesy Chicago Symphony Orchestra

Joining Joffrey: Kanazawa finished her training at the San Francisco Ballet School, including one season as a trainee. In 2016, she was invited to audition for The Joffrey in company class. "I hadn't really done a lot of auditions," she says. But her first class, with ballet master Suzanne Lopez, was similar to those at SFB—where Wheater had once danced. "I felt like I belonged right away."

Staying humble: "I think I can see myself pretty clearly and realistically," says Kanazawa. "Sometimes I don't want to go in the front for something like pirouettes, but it's important to push yourself in class, and then onstage, keep it a little safer." That's not to say she appears timid in performance. Featured roles have come to her from choreographers like Wayne McGregor and Stephanie Martinez, showing off her flexibility and intrepid partnering skills.

On her work ethic: "She's incredibly intelligent about herself, her work and where she wants to go," says Wheater. "She finishes class every day. I've never seen her drop back. I've only seen her proceed forward."

Favorite Chicago haunts: Kanazawa loves Millennium Park and raves about taking visitors on the architectural boat tour on the Chicago River. She swears by Cho Sun Ok, a hole-in-the-wall Korean BBQ place. "They literally throw food at you," she says. "But it's so good and so cheap."

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Courtesy Esse

What It Was Like When Ruth Bader Ginsburg Was in the Audience—or Backstage

The 27 years that Ruth Bader Ginsburg spent on the U.S. Supreme Court were 27 years that she spent as one of Washington, D.C.'s most ardent, elegant and erudite supporters of the performing arts. The justice, who died on September 18 of metastatic cancer, was also an avid cultural tourist, traveling to the Santa Fe and Glimmerglass operas nearly every summer, as well as occasionally returning to catch shows in her native New York City.

Ginsburg's opera fandom was well known, but her tastes were wide-ranging. Particularly in the last 10 years of her life, after Ginsburg lost her beloved husband, Marty, it was not unusual for the petite justice and her security detail to be spotted at theaters several nights a week. She saw everything, from classic musicals to serious new plays, plus performances that defied classification, like Martha Clarke's dance drama Chéri, with Alessandra Ferri and Herman Cornejo, which toured to the Kennedy Center in 2014.

To honor Ginsburg, Dance Magazine asked three dance artists whose performances the justice attended to recall what Ginsburg meant to them.

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