INDIANAPOLIS — Yoshko Kamikusa glides elegantly through all of her movements.
Sitting on the floor with her legs outstretched before her, toes pointed is her natural resting position.
“The aches and pains are there,” she said, laughing. “You kinda get used to it, and you sort of miss it when it’s not there.”
Kamikusa is a founding company member of the Indianapolis Ballet, which launched in 2018.
Kamikusa puts on her pointe shoes. As she slides her right foot into her shoe, her left foot, ready to carry her entire body weight on the tips of her toes, is pointed in a perfect “C” shape over the heel of her foot.
Ballet is an art form that requires unimaginable control.
It’s a form of dance that requires extending and elongating the body in way that it wasn’t designed to move, all the while making each graceful movement and each turn flawlessly, elegant and effortless.
Kamikiusa said she was drawn to ballet when she was 7 years old. She says she loved that it was a form of movement.
“I was fidgety, I couldn’t sit still,” said Kamikusa smiling.
But to her, ballet was more than just an outlet for her burning desire to move.
“It wasn’t just movement, it was art and movement together,” said Kamikusa.
She said she loved going to practice and class before truly understanding why.
“The passion for it really grew over time” said Kamikusa.
At 11 years old, she realized ballet was a passion that she wanted to pursue as a career.
“It was when I had my first ballet competition. That was a pretty big event for me,” said Kamikusa.
“I saw all these other dancers who were just as passionate as I was, but they had some incredible technique. That was really inspiring,” said Kamikusa. She saw that what she wanted was within reach if she worked hard.
She practiced 12 hours a day, six days a week while “attending a professional academy, the Goh Ballet Academy, in Vancouver,” said Kamikusa.
“I started doing online school so that I could spend more time in the studio and do more ballet hours,” she added.
“Refining everything and working on my weaknesses everyday so that when the time came and I needed to prove myself, I was ready,” said Kamikusa.
It’s clear within a few minutes of meeting Kamikusa that she’s a perfectionist, a trait that often goes hand-in-hand with the top-performing ballet dancers.
“It’s a very esthetic,” said Kamikusa.
Any dancer will tell you that dancers need to have tough enough skin to handle the critiques that are about every inch of their body and technique and how they move. Kamikusa said her parents have been supportive since “day one” and that by nature, she’s a positive person. She said it’s important to turn that criticism into fire to continue to grow and get better but to also know when to “step back.”
“It’s a balance,” said Kamikusa.
Kamikusa was ready.
At 18, she became a professional dancer.
“I had been with a ballet company in Canada for five years,” where she apprenticed as Odette in "Swan Lake" very early in her career. She credits having had two great teachers who hailed from one of the top ballet academies in Russia.
“But I reached a point in my life where I wanted to explore more growth as an artist and see what else I could do to further all the possibilities that I could have,” said Kamikusa.
Now in Indianapolis, Kamikusa lights up the stage as a founding company member of the Indianapolis Ballet.
“I don’t even remember anything about life, about me, I just fully immerse myself in that character, that story, and I’m in the moment, and that’s when you know a show really worked out for you,” said Kamikusa.
Kamikusa said she found a mentor who was on the “same page” in her director, who introduced her to Balachine pieces.
“It’s very prestigious for such a young company to be given an opportunity to dance these iconic Balachanie pieces,” said Kamikusa.
“And you need approval to dance them,” she added.
The Indianapolis Ballet has not been deterred by the pandemic, masking up and going virtual in 2020.
“I think the art world just adapted, and we made the best of it that we could,” said Kamikusa.
She said that she feels a mask “does cover half of the face, which is one of the most expressive parts, and it does take a little bit of the magic away,” said Kamikusa.
And Kamikusa said, “it would be great if we not only established our name in Indianapolis and the States, but perhaps on a worldwide scale.”
The Indianapolis Ballet will have a gala on Feb. 6 and hopes to open officially with their Valentine’s Day program, Love Spring Eternal at the Toby Theatre.