Meet the Artist | Nanae Matsushima

Headshot by Keith Alan Sprouse

Meet Nanae Matsushima, one of Charlottesville Ballet’s Company Artists! You might recognize her as the “Sugarplum Fairy” in a pink and gold tutu from The Nutcracker, but this March she’ll be in a black tutu performing as the vivacious “Kitri” in Don Quixote + New Works!  

1. When did you first start dancing?

I started dancing when I was 3 years old.

2. What made you fall in love with ballet?

When I am onstage I love the spotlight; it makes me feel magical.

3. Why did you decide to come to America?

I like what is considered the “American” style of dance because it’s very dynamic!

4. How long have you been in America?

This is my second year in America.  I left my hometown of Hokkaido, Japan in 2012 to train in Alberta, Canada at the School of Alberta Ballet.  In 2014, I moved to the United States to study at the American Repertory Ballet in Princeton, NJ.

5. How is dancing in Japan different from dancing in America?

In America the audiences are very interactive – it’s such a nice feeling to have an enthusiastic audience that really gets into the performance!

6. What is your favorite role?

I have many favorite roles. But the one that stole my heart is Juliet from Romeo & Juliet.

7. Have you ever performed Kitri before?

Yes, I did last year as a trainee with American Repertory Ballet. I’m incredibly excited to re-visit the role again this March!

Nanae as Kitri with her famous fan!

8. What’s your favorite thing about Charlottesville?

Everyone here in Charlottesville is very kind. And it is very beautiful, especially during the summer!

9. What’s your favorite spot in town?

ACAC!!!  I am so happy that ACAC is a wellness sponsor for the Charlottesville Ballet dancers!

10. Favorite ballet step?

My favorite step is fouetté  – a classical ballet term that meas “whipped.”  The fouetté turn (also called fouetté ronde de jambe en tournant) is usually performed by ballerinas at the end of a piece as an impressive, fast-paced ending.  I love doing the classic “32 fouettés” in a row – it is my favorite ballet challenge!

Click to watch a video of Nanae’s favorite step: the fouetté!

You can catch Nanae doing her favorite fouetté(s) onstage at Don Quixote + New Works on March 12 at PVCC!

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