From princess Aurora to McGregor’s “Infra”, from Kitri to “In the Middle, Somewhat Elevated”, the Japanese Principal of the Australian Ballet is running the spectrum of ballet roles – now, after getting nominated for the Benois de la Danse for Wheeldon’s “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland”, her role is changing once again.
Poised and elegant. An exceptionally fluent dancer. A revelation. Ako Kondo invites superlatives from all who know her and see her dancing. Her voice sounds gentle and calm, she looks elegant, outgoing and confident of herself at the same time. Yet there is no doubt she is strong as iron and she is a very determined person.
Kondo became a Principal at the Australian Ballet at just 24 years of age, a few seasons ago, after a performance of “Giselle” in which she danced the title role. Born in Nagoya, Japan, where she began her ballet training at three, she won the second prize at the Japan Grand Prix in 2005, and two years later she was awarded the Australian Ballet School Tuition Scholarship, which was announced at the Youth America Grand Prix. Ako Kondo joined the Australian Ballet in 2010. She had previously toured with the company in 2008.
She is just back from China («After being unwell for a few days in Nanjing», she explains) where she had her international debut as Princess Aurora in “The Sleeping Beauty”, one of the highlights of her repertoire. As far as roles are concerned, though, one of her signature ones is Alice in Christopher Wheeldon’s “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” – for this part she got a nomination for the Benois de la Danse this year. I cannot not to start by asking her about this nomination. (Interview by ALESSANDRO BIZZOTTO)
Tell me about your first reaction when you got to know you were a nominee for the Benois de la Danse.
I was so thrilled to be nominated for the Benois de la Danse! When I found out I was nominated alongside my ballet idol Svetlana Zakharova, I couldn’t believe it. It was amazing to think that I had achieved one of major career goals. Dancing on the Bolshoi Theatre stage was definitely one of my career highlights!
You began your training at the Shiho Kanazawa Ballet Studio while being incredibly young – you were just three. What lead you to ballet?
When I was young, I always loved dancing and singing in front of the TV. When watching that, my mum thought of putting me into the local ballet studio. That was the beginning of my ballet life. My mum is always a great leader in my life. I’m so thankful to her that she gave me the opportunity to find what I love, ballet.