An interview with Keiko Amemori about Madame Butterfly and her return to Northern Ballet after a two year absence.
What is like being back at Northern Ballet after being away for over two years?
In many ways I feel like I haven’t been away at all as I have still been involved with Northern Ballet. Last and before the last Autumn I auditioned and rehearsed the children performing with the company in The Nutcracker. Also I am married to Hironao Takahashi (Premier Dancer) so I get to hear about the company all the time.
I have been able to return to training relatively easily as throughout my time away from Northern Ballet I kept in shape. The training method Northern Ballet use, the Ichino Method (developed by Northern Ballet Mistress Yoko Ichino) focuses on posture, bones and muscles and has helped me dance easier and more efficiently.
What projects have you been involved in whilst you have been away from the company?
During the first year after leaving the Company I had a break from dance. At that time I felt my body needed a break from dancing after so many years as a professional.
After a year’s break, I started back dancing slowly. I worked with Wayne Sleep a former Royal Ballet Principal dancer, and toured the UK with his production ‘Precious Little Sleep’. It was a three man show which also involved Wayne and David Paul Kierce, another former Northern Ballet dancer. I also returned to my native Japan teaching classes, choreographing and performing. Other than dancing, I created a piece called “Flavour Fever” for Northern Ballet and Phoenix Dance Theatre's choreographic workshop.
Why did you decide to return to dance the role of Butterfly?
I felt privileged that David invited me to return to Northern Ballet to dance Butterfly, as the role has a special place in my heart. Butterfly was the first lead role I danced with Northern Ballet, back when the company first performed the production in 2002. It will be interesting for me to find out how I can develop within the role after having had more life experience.
Can you tell us a little more about Madame Butterfly, why would you recommend people to go and see this production?
Unlike opera version, David's Madame Butterfly has no lyrics. He has choreographed using a combination of movement and acting to tell the story without lyrics. It is a heartbreaking ballet. The audience will see Butterfly grow from a delicate young woman to strong and determined woman who is prepared to take her own life for what she believes in.
The production is beautifully staged to create the atmosphere of Japan. It is delicate, simple and reserved.
After your appearance as Butterfly at the Leeds Grand Theatre can Northern Ballet fans expect to see you taking to the stage with the Company again?
I’m not sure about my future plans but at the moment I am enjoying being back at Northern Ballet dancing Butterfly.