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Yuriko Kajiya  – Principal dancer with Houston Ballet

Team Zarely:  When did you start ballet classes? 

Yuriko Kajiya: I started ballet when I was 8 at the local school in Japan. Just once or twice a week, nothing serious.  

Team Zarely:  Did you decide to become a ballerina by yourself or was it your parents' decision? 

Yuriko Kajiya: I did. But there is a funny story about it. I moved to China from Japan at the age ten to go to The National Dance School in Shanghai. Most people think it was my decision and I wanted to be a ballerina... but the truth is "no". I had an opportunity to go to Shanghai and my parents thought it would be great idea to go there for a few months to get life experience. Not because they wanted me to be a "ballerina", or because I wanted to be one. Ballet was just a "thing" I did. I didn't like it very much nor was I particularly good at it. The plan was to stay there for a few months. However, I ended up staying for 6 years. It took me a while to get into dancing, but eventually around the age of thirteen I liked this "ballet" thing and the rest is history. 

Yuriko Kajiya - Principal Dancer with Houston Ballet and Zarely Role Model Photo by Kazunori Hataguchi.

Team Zarely:  What do you dream about? Anything – related to ballet or not.

Yuriko Kajiya: I always get inspired by people's story. And I hope I can inspire as many people with my story, too. 

Team Zarely:  And when aspiring young dancers ask for your advice what do you recommend them?

Yuriko Kajiya: My advice concerns not just young dancers – it can really work for anybody. Find what you love and love what you do. When you are passionate about something, it's easier to get into it and work harder. And that's when you shine the most. That’s when you feel complete and happy.

Yuriko Kajiya - Principal Dancer with Houston Ballet and Zarely Role Model Photo by NYC Dance Project 

Team Zarely:  Do you have your favorite performance/role and why?

Yuriko Kajiya: I absolutely love story ballets – they are my favorites. I enjoy getting into a character myself and (with your partner and fellow dancers on stage) to tell a story, share it with an audience. This is a pretty special experience.





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