How old were you when you started ballet?

I was eight when I started learning classical ballet in Japan with my twin sister, Yuu Suzuki. Before that, I also learnt modern ballet at 6, but did not really enjoy it as I found what I was learning to be quite childish.

What was the first ballet you ever saw in a theatre? Who was it by, and what impression did it leave with you?

I don’t quite remember, but I think it was The Nutcracker by Matsuyama Ballet Company when I was about six years old. I remember Act 2 because of the beautiful costumes and set, and I really admired the dancers and wanted to be like the dancers on stage.

When did you decide to pursue a professional career, and why?

When I was 13, I performed as Clara in The Nutcracker with the Asami Maki Ballet Company. It was so fun and enjoyable that I wanted to perform again and again on stage after that experience. I later danced supporting child roles in New National Theatre Ballet Company’s Sleeping Beauty, La Bayadère, Raymonda, Roland Petit’s La Chauve-souris, and Don Quixote. While I was still in Junior High School, I auditioned at New National Theatre Ballet School  (NNT) in Tokyo, Japan, with my sister, and the both of us got in to NNT. We were about 15 years old when we enrolled in to NNT for four years.

Did you enjoy your training at your school?

Yes, I did. At NNT, we did not only learn ballet, but we also had Spanish dance, contemporary, historical dance, and character dance classes. We also studied ballet and music history, Japanese culture, and even acting and drama skills. Through my journey in NNT, I was able to learn how to incorporate what I learnt from school into my own dance expressions, and I think that has helped me a lot in forming the foundations of how I present my dance better.

When and how did you join SDT?

I remember that I was really interested in SDT when I found out about the company’s repertoire, and the dancers’ experiences and exposure at the company, I felt like this was the company I wanted to be a part of, and decided to apply. I auditioned in July 2014, and I joined SDT in October of the same year.

What was your first role in SDT as a professional dancer? Did you like it?

I was a Village Woman, Dryad, and Classical Girl in Don Quixote in December 2014. I enjoyed the process thoroughly, from learning the choreography from Cynthia Harvey to performing it, I found it to be really fun and exhilarating to be on stage.

How do you learn a new ballet/choreography? Is it different for contemporary and classical choreography?

When I learn a new ballet, I would usually listen to the music on repeat so that I am familiar with the timing and rhythms in the song, and I would run through the choreography over and over in my head as I listen to the music. I also try to pick up as much as I can when the choreographer is teaching the dance, and I will attempt to understand what the choreographer wants for each movement, and I learn by watching the other dancers dance as well, especially from those who have already mastered the choreography.

What is a typical rehearsal day like for you? What do you do during breaks?

I usually reach the studio at 9.30am to warm-up for company class at 10am. We would then have a whole day of rehearsals, and an hour lunch break at around 2pm. I would usually sew my pointe shoes, check my phone, and get ready for the next rehearsal during my break time.

Do you have any pre-performance rituals?

I don’t really have any pre-performance ritual, but I make sure that I have enough time to do my make-up and stretch before the show time. I realise that I will also send my family a text message and a photograph of my costume before I perform, it means a lot to me to have my family’s support and love. They would usually reply and tell me not to be nervous, and to try to enjoy myself on stage. (laughs)

What do you eat on a big rehearsal/performance day?

I usually try not to eat too much oily food, and I would eat more fresh vegetables and fruits, like cherry tomatoes. But I would also eat some chocolates (laughs), my favourite chocolate is Lindtt.

What is your dream role?

I have a lot of dream roles, some of them include Nikia in La Bayadère, Raymonda in Raymonda, and Princess Aurora in Sleeping Beauty.

What is your favourite costume so far?

I like delicate and exquisite princess tutus like Princess Aurora’s, but I also like simple costumes like Serenade by George Balanchine.

Who is your favourite choreographer in the works you’ve danced?

Before I came in to SDT, I enjoyed working with Birmingham’s Artistic Director David Bintley when I was with National Ballet of Japen (NBJ) as a Junior Artist, and I also really admire George Balanchine and Roland Petit’s style of choreography.

While I’ve been in SDT, having Cynthia Harvey stage Don Quixote has not only taught and helped me in my ballet technique, but she also guided us in how we could dramatise and act our my roles, especially in Act 1 and the Tavern scene for myself.

Do you watch ballets from the wings during performance days?

Yes, I really enjoy watching other dancers from the wings. However, if I have to get ready for my own performance or if I need some time to prepare my pointe shoe, I would not be able to watch my friends perform.

How do you feel after a performance?

It really depends on how I did for that performance. On days when I know that I’ve danced well, I will be really happy. But if the performance does not go well, I will usually become more pensive, and analyse how I have done to see how I can improve from future performances.

What is your most prized possession?

I think my most prized possessions are my two necklaces which I always have on. One of it is a letter ‘M’ which was given to me by my mother for my 20th birthday. My twin sister has a similar necklace of a letter ‘Y’, so it is really special to me. The other is a gold necklace that my father gave me when I decided to come over to Singapore; it is a symbolism of protection.

What do you like to do outside of SDT?

I like to walk around Singapore because I love to explore this city and get to discover more about this nation.
I also can get a little obsessed and spend too much time thinking about how I can become healthier. I would do a lot of research about dieting, exercises, nutrition, and would try put some of what I’ve found into practice.

Do you have a “guilty pleasure”?

Coffee! I enjoy a good cup of coffee, but I haven’t found a good café in Singapore yet, so I am still on a personal mission to find a café that I like.

Are most of your friends dancers?

Yes, most of my friends are dancers as we grew up together in the same dance school, and my closest friend is my twin sister, Yuu.

How does your family feel about your career?

My parents have been a very big support to me in my pursuit of dance, and because my twin sister is a professional dancer as well, she is the one person who understands me the best.

What do you want to do after dancing?

I have not quite decided yet, but other than dance, I am also very interested in health. So after I stop dancing professionally, I would like to be able to teach dance and help people lead a healthy and fit lifestyle in one way or another.