My Favorite Roles

Continuing with questions posed to us on Facebook, Nancy Sands asks:  What are your dancers’ favorite roles and why?

Soloist Nao Kusuzaki took a break from rehearsal to answer:

I’ve been thinking about your question for a few days–there are so many!–and I’ve narrowed it down to four.  They are:

“Red Couple” in Stanton Welch’s Tu Tu.  This ballet is simply gorgeous–its movement and music harmoniously creates an exquisite piece of jewelry to be showcased.  So just from watching the ballet, Tu Tu was a special piece to me.  And it became even more so in dancing the Red Couple.  The Red Couple dances a luxurious pas de deux: always flowing and graceful, and unexpectedly dynamic, balancing fragility, strength, searching, yearning.  Experiencing and exploring these sensations in studio and on stage, it now holds a special place in my heart.  

Suzuki in Stanton Welch’s Madame Butterfly is another one of my favorites.  From the beginning of rehearsal, I felt a deep sense of connection to this ballet through my Japanese roots, and while exploring Suzuki’s character I became attached and attracted to her attributes—her strength, integrity, stubbornness, kindness, charm, drama, and character–a true friend who is always on Cio-Cio San’s side.  I came to find out how complex this character was and couldn’t leave her alone.  I enjoyed nurturing her.


Grandmother in Ben Stevenson’s The Nutcracker–because she is the oldest character I’ve tackled so far!  She and the Grandfather are the oldest characters in the ballet, and yet they have as much fun as Clara and Fritz.  I love that!  Not to mention it has stretched me in a different way than a typical dancing role or a character.

Dancing the Sugar Plum Fairy in The Nutcracker is a role I love and look forward to every year because it is one of the most elegant, classical, and challenging ballet characters.  Every year I’m humbled–it does not get easier!  She is the quintessential ballerina role; growing up, I looked up to her, and I’m finding out it’s quite a task portraying and becoming this beauty!

Best Regards,


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