Summer Diary Series – Soloist Nao Kusuzaki

Ever wondered what our Houston Ballet company dancers do over the summer? Well, we asked our dancers what they did over the summer and what they are looking forward to the most in the 2012-2013 season. Check out this week’s entry from Soloist Nao Kusuzaki! Enjoy!

This summer, I returned home to Japan and performed Giselle in Hiraki Ballet School’s 30th Anniversary performance. Demi soloist Charles-Louis Yoshiyama grew up dancing here, and I was excited to celebrate their big birthday with the teachers, current students, and dancers who came back to perform for this occasion. An added bonus was to share this experience with family and relatives, and friends who flew out from the island I grew up in Ehime. It was their first time at a ballet. It was a very special Giselle performance!

Nao Kusuzaki (middle) with friends and family after a Noh class in Tokyo

When I was not in Chiba for Hiraki, I visited Ehime and took ballet class from a friend who recently opened a ballet school, Ehime Takeichi Ballet. We were classmates from age 3 to 10, and my earliest memories had her included. She went off to Russia, I to the States, and now back taking her barre in our hometown was a little odd at first, but something very familiar. I got in touch with my roots through taking a Noh lesson. A classical art form in Japan since 14h century, Noh uses voice and dance with a fan and a mask. I found it quite similar to ballet, in the way performers carry their body, and a basic stance of a turned out position of feet, although very subtle. Completely intrigued. A new destination of the summer was South Korea, where I visited my cousin Yoko. Only 2 hours flight from Tokyo but very different in culture, I embraced their food, frequented the bath houses, and relaxed on the beautiful beach east of Seoul.

Back home now in Houston, Madame Butterfly rehearsals are underway, and am very much looking forward to it. Also in the works is Aszure Barton’s creation for Houston Ballet. Aszure Barton & Artists toured Houston in 2010 and I was fascinated. Now working in the studio, the interest continues to grow and develop. Second half of the season, La Bayadere is a ballet I’m looking forward to. Such a gorgeous ballet with extraordinary dancing, dramatic story, and exotic setting!

– Nao Kusuzaki, Soloist

Congratulations to Soloist Nao Kusuzaki! She will be debuting in the lead role of Cio-Cio San in Madame Butterfly which runs September 6-16.

Tickets to Madame Butterfly are on sale via our website at


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