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Akane Takada: ‘Creating a role is a very different experience to doing classical ballet’

Akane-Takada-©Andrej-Uspenski Akane Takada. Photo: Andrej Uspenski

A first soloist at the Royal Ballet, Akane Takada is currently in rehearsal for her debut performance in Giselle, in which she plays the title role. She talks to Georgia Snow.

Are you enjoying taking on the role of Giselle?

Giselle is one of my dream roles, one of those that everyone wants to play, so I can’t really believe it. Kevin [O’Hare, director of the Royal Ballet] called me up and asked if I would do it, and I couldn’t believe it. I have danced a few of the classic ballets already – Sleeping Beauty, Swan Lake – but Giselle is different. It’s a more dramatic role than I’m used to: more acting is involved. There is so much story in her, that makes it so different. I do enjoy the acting side of it, but it takes it out of you.

What is your history with the Royal Ballet?

I first came here in 2008 as an apprentice, and then I joined properly in 2009. I won a scholarship to come here and have moved up to where I am now, first soloist. I always wanted to come to England to dance – Japanese dancers I really admire have come here. I lived in Russia for two years before I came to London, so I didn’t come straight from Japan, but it was still a big change. The language is still quite hard for me even now, but I do love it. I have been here almost seven years, so it is my home now.

Have you especially enjoyed playing any particular roles?

I recently danced [Frederick Ashton’s] The Two Pigeons, which was really special. I enjoyed it so much. I have also worked a few times with Wayne McGregor. Two of the roles I have danced for him I have created, which is a very different experience from doing a classical ballet. It makes you think differently. With a more classic ballet, I just think about the character and of course technique. But when I work with Wayne there is so much movement and lots of steps to remember, it works my brain much more, at the same time as it works my body.

Did you decide at a young age that you wanted to be a dancer?

I started dancing when I was three. I didn’t always know I wanted to be a dancer, but there was a dance studio across from my house so I made my mum take me there. I fell in love with it straight away. I always had a dream to go somewhere to dance, so maybe by the age of 10 or 11 I knew. I had a big injury when I was 12, which made me think I wouldn’t be able to do it. I suffered another bad injury a couple of years ago, and I couldn’t dance for almost two seasons. It really made me realise how important it is to look after your body. I have to make sure my body is strong enough to do lots of roles.

CV: Akane Takada

Training: Hiromi Takahashi Ballet Studio and Bolshoi Ballet Academy
First professional role: Prix de Lausanne scholarship, Royal Ballet (2008)
Agent: none

Giselle runs at the Royal Opera House, London, until April 15. Takada performs the title role on March 28 and April 9

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