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Life and style with Yui Watanabe

Dancer with Ballet Victoria loves fashion, design and cooking
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- Words and photography by Lia Crowe

Born in Niigata, Japan, Yui began dance training at four years old in a recreational dance school. At 15, she decided to become a professional ballerina and moved away from home to study in Kyoto. Upon graduation at 18, she left Japan to dance with a professional company in the USA.

“I felt the repertoire was not allowing me to truly develop my technical and artistic skills,” Yui tells me, describing her experience in the American dance company. “So, I looked for a position in a more classical company. In 2015, I moved here to join Ballet Victoria, where I am enjoying dancing diverse lead roles and choreographies.”

Knowing how demanding a career in ballet can be, I ask what aspect of her work gets her the most fired up.

She says: “Every day ballet class is a very important part of the day for me. I have learned so much at Ballet Victoria about foundation, placement and classical technique. It has changed my body, my muscles, my quality of movement and more. I love performing, of course, and the interpretation of various roles and characters is a fascinating and enjoyable part of ballet. Music drives our movement, and playing with rhythm, melodies and instrumentations is a thrill. Dancers express themselves using their own bodies. We are the instrument of our art.”

Outside of ballet, Yui loves fashion, design and cooking.

“Going out wearing my favourite outfit makes me very happy. I enjoy going to various restaurants with my friends and exploring their menus. Fashion, food and dance have a multi-cultural similarity for me. It’s global, inclusive with all the different genres and styles.”

Asked what’s the best life lesson she has learned in the last five years, Yui says, “Hard work pays off. When you work hard in ballet class and in rehearsal, you can find more freedom and enjoyment on stage. I can trust my technique and focus on the role and the dramatic intent of the ballet. Just live the part fully. I always remind myself that before going on stage.”

Style Inspirations & Life

Style icon: Margot Robbie.

Favourite artist: Nozomi Iijima, principal ballerina with K-ballet in Tokyo, Japan.

Piece of art: Edgar Degas, Little Dancer sculpture.

Favourite fashion designer or brand: Christian Dior.

Favourite musician: Olivia Rodrigo and Lana Del Rey.

Era of time that inspires your style: ‘90s flower patterns.

Film or TV show that inspires your style or that you just love the style of: Emily in Paris.

Favourite cocktail or wine: Sangria.

Album on current rotation: Flowers by Miley Cyrus.

Favourite flower: Water lilies.

Favourite city to visit: Paris.

Favourite app: Instagram.

Favourite place in the whole world: Kyoto.

One thing that consistently lifts your spirits during hard times: Sushi.

Fashion & Beauty

Uniform: Leotard, pink tights and pointe shoes.

All-time favourite piece: Aritzia pink dress.

Currently coveting: New leotard from Xiaoxiao Designs.

Favourite pair of shoes: Converse Chuck Taylor All Star Lift Platform.

Favourite day-bag: Coach (Snoopy tote bag).

Favourite work tool: Pointe shoes by Gaynor Minden.

Favourite jewellery piece or designer: Tiffany earrings.

Fashion obsession: Dresses.

Accessory you spend the most money on: Tiffany earrings.

Necessary indulgence for either fashion or beauty: Perfume: Chanel, DIOR, Chloe.

Moisturizer: DIOR.

Scent: Coconut and vanilla.

Must-have hair product: Dove shampoo and conditioner.

Beauty secret: Sunscreen.

Reading Material

What you read online for style: I mostly get my style inspiration from social media trends.

Fave print magazine: Any fashion magazine.

Fave style blog: Taylor Hill.

Coffee table book/photography book: Love Ballerina: Style Book! It looks at famous ballerinas’ personal lives and style.

Last great read: Before the Coffee Gets Cold by Toshikazu Kawaguchi (it exists in English translation).

Book currently reading: Tales From the Café by Toshikazu Kawaguchi.

Favourite book of all time: Me Before You by Jojo Moyes.

Story courtesy of Boulevard Magazine, a Black Press Media publication
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