Ballet dancer Shoko Nakamura, who had a successful career in Europe, has moved her base of activities to Japan — mainly to dance for the K-Ballet Company in Tokyo.
To mark her return to Japan, Nakamura performed the title role in “Carmen” at Bunkamura Orchard Hall earlier this month in Shibuya, Tokyo. The production was choreographed by K-Ballet Artistic Director Tetsuya Kumakawa.
Nakamura is rather tall for a female ballet dancer at 173 centimeters. She is known for her delicate expressiveness and a physique comparable to those of Western dancers. After working for the Vienna State Ballet and the Berlin State Ballet, she moved to the Hungarian National Ballet in 2013.
“The troupe has many classical programs in its repertoire, such as ‘Onegin’ and ‘Manon’ — programs any ballet dancer would love to dance at least once. I thought I would regret it if I didn’t take on the challenge,” Nakamura said.
She decided to move to Budapest with her son and leave behind her husband Wieslaw Dudek, who was her colleague at the Berlin State Ballet in Germany.
Ballet is popular in Budapest. “The seats were full all the time,” Nakamura recalled, so she was always practicing two or three programs at once.
“I found myself having different feelings day to day, sometimes in love and other times full of sorrow,” she said. “There were so many things you would never know unless you danced it. I was tempered that way.”
She gradually came to wish to take on another challenge — dancing predominantly in Japan.
“I’ve been overseas since 16, so I’d lived outside of Japan [for a long time] although I’m Japanese,” the dancer said. “I thought I’d be able to have new encounters and experiences in Japan. I was also worried that my prime would be over if the timing was delayed.”
When she talked to Kumakawa about her intention, he was willing to have her dance in his troupe, which she had worked with many times before. She then moved to Japan with her family.
“I can now be with K-Ballet dancers for a long time and talk to them a lot from now on. I don’t want them to hesitate if they have any questions,” Nakamura said. “It’s difficult creating good productions unless we closely work as colleagues. If there’s a line between us, that would show on the stage.”
Nakamura made meticulous preparations to build the character of Carmen, known as a femme fatale.
“She’s a woman who would completely fascinate any man at a glance, but she has never really been in love with anyone. I suppose she is intoxicated by her own charm,” Nakamura said, adding with a laugh, “We have nothing in common.”
She carefully built up the character by exposing her shoulders from the dress, putting on thick makeup and wearing showy earrings.
“I tried to change myself in a way other people would think was too much,” Nakamura said. “But during rehearsals, I would gradually get rid of them and build a woman with femininity just like Carmen.”
Nakamura is expected to be an inspiration for Kumakawa when he choreographs new works.
“I’m looking forward to that,” Nakamura said. “If he produces works with me in mind, I’d be able to express myself and might also discover something new.”
Nakamura will perform in “Swan Lake” with K-Ballet Company on Oct. 31 and Nov. 1 at Orchard Hall, and on Nov. 5 and 8 at Tokyo Bunka Kaikan in Ueno Park, Tokyo.