After many years at the Paris Opera Ballet, Jose Carlos Martinez left that fabled company in 2011 when he reached its age limit of 42 for an etoile (principal dancer) — and took up the post of artistic director at the Spanish National Dance Company (Compania Nacional de Danza).

That return to his homeland by Martinez, who has legions of fans in Japan, followed the 2010 retirement of Nacho Duato, during whose more than 20-year tenure the Madrid-based company rose to worldwide fame, with many of his own choreographic works to the fore.

"Right now I'm working on expanding the repertoire and establishing a new identity for the CND," Martinez said straight off when we met in Tokyo in July. "For a long time, the company's dancers didn't use pointe shoes, but I changed things so we do classical and neo-classical works as well as contemporary. I'm also working on the creation of contemporary avant-garde works."