Erina Takahashi as Medora in English National Ballet's "Le Corsaire" © Laurent Liotardo

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Erina Takahashi celebrates 25 years with English National Ballet

In 1996, Erina Takahashi joined the corps de ballet of English National Ballet (ENB), as a teenager straight from English National Ballet School (ENBS). Within four years, she had been promoted to principal dancer. As if that wasn’t enough of a success story, she has remained at the very top of the company since, working with some of the greatest choreographers in the world and consistently giving us superlative performances. She has not only maintained and honed her outstanding technique but has developed her artistry to levels of such sincerity and brilliance that she will surely go down in the history books as one of the great interpreters of both the classics and the contemporary ballets, within a vast repertoire. Her success appears to have taken her by surprise even though audiences have applauded her heartily for all those years.

When we talk, she is rehearsing for the world premieres of both Akram Khan’s Creature and Tamara Rojo’s Raymonda, in which she will dance the principal roles. But first, I want to hear about her training and early years. Born in Kushiro, Japan, and studying ballet at the Kushiro Ballet Academy, she came to London at the age of 15, with no English language skills.

“We started learning basic English at the age of 12 in school but it was just to say hello, how do you do or this is a pen! Very, very basic. I thought I knew some English before I arrived but when I got here it was a real shock. I didn’t understand anything that people were saying to me! Fortunately, although I didn’t know anyone in the UK, a Japanese girl was starting at the same time as me. She was a bit older and like a big sister. And her English was better than mine!”

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