World renowned ballet dancer and teacher Yoko Ichino will be stepping down from her role of Associate Director of the Academy of Northern Ballet after more than 20 years with the Company.
Ichino joined Northern Ballet in 2001 and played a pivotal role in the establishment and leadership of the Academy of Northern Ballet as well as the Company’s many touring productions. At the end of August she steps down from her formal role to pursue freelance teaching across the globe. She will continue to work with Northern Ballet in this freelance capacity.
Born in Los Angeles, Ichino studied with renowned ballerina Mia Slavenska and began her professional career in 1972 when she joined Joffrey Ballet II as an Apprentice. What followed was a career that spanned three decades. Yoko danced with the Joffrey Ballet, Stuttgart Ballet, American Ballet Theatre, National Ballet of Canada and Ballett der Deutsche Oper Berlin, as well as appearing as a Guest Artist for over 22 companies across the world. She has partnered some of ballet’s greatest dancers including Rudolph Nureyev.
Ichino’s teaching career began as a teenager before honing her skills at Ballet de Monte Carlo, Stuttgart Ballet and Nederlands Dans Theater. From 1995 to 2001 she worked with her husband David Nixon CBE to set up BalletMet Dance Academy in Ohio. Nixon and Ichino then worked together to develop the Academy of Northern Ballet when Nixon took on the role of Artistic Director of Northern Ballet in 2001. Under their tenure the Academy grew exponentially and now reaches over 3,000 people of all ages and abilities each year with its public and professional programme.
Through Ichino’s tenure as Associate Director of the Academy of Northern Ballet, students have gone on to become professional dancers at some of the top ballet companies in the world including Miami City Ballet, Ballet Du Capitole, English National Ballet and Northern Ballet.
One of her many legacies is her self-titled Ichino Technique on which the Academy of Northern Ballet has been built.
Under this method, young dancers learn how to cope with the physical and emotional demands of dancing through preventative conditioning, a clear understanding of their individual strengths and limitations and a detailed knowledge of dance technique. The Academy of Northern Ballet will continue to teach the Ichino Technique under the joint artistic direction of Cara O’Shea, Academy Associate Artistic Director and Federico Bonelli, Northern Ballet’s Artistic Director with Leanne Kirkham as Director of Learning and Academy Operations.