She's got long, beautiful legs, and a technique and expressive force that are rare on the stage today. Critics and audiences agree that the future looks bright for this 23-year old ballerina. Her name is Ueno Mizuka.
Ueno started studying ballet when she was five years old, with her mother's encouragement. She showed great promise at an early age, and in 1993 won the Prix de Lausanne Scholarship at an international ballet competition in Switzerland. This launched her onto the world stage.
"When they awarded me the top prize, I knew for the first time that I wanted to be a professional ballerina. The scholarship made it possible for me to study in Monaco. If I hadn't studied there, I wouldn't be the dancer I am today.
" Ueno was 15 at the time. She enrolled in l'Academie de Danse Classique Princesse Grace in Monaco, and graduated two years later with top honors. Then she returned to Japan and joined the Asami Maki Ballet Company. Her debut in Japan came when she was the principal female dancer inThe Nutcracker in 1998. The following year she danced at a gala performance in Mexico at the invitation of the world-famous choreographer, Roland Petit. Since then, she has performed in many of Petit's works, captivating audiences with her graceful style. She has become a prima ballerina both on the stage and in the hearts of her fans, taking the leading role in a number of productions, includingSwan Lake, which her ballet company performed in March 2000.
"It was wonderful being invited to the gala performance in Mexico. That's when I began feeling a strong desire to make it to the top. I want to put even more expression into my dancing, and learn more from other performing arts as well, like cinema and the theater."
Ueno now appears in about six productions a year. Each production only runs for about two or three days, so audiences don't have much chance to see her. But she still has to practice hard almost every day for those few performances.
"My fans give me the support I need to keep going. And I really like being on stage. When I'm up there expressing the music through dance, the emotion of the moment affects me, too. I hope audiences will continue to enjoy my dancing. In the future, I'd like to stay based in Japan and reach a level that will bring me many more invitations to dance abroad."