"In my free time when I'm not taking classes or conducting rehearsals, I like to go to theaters and museums — or just go shopping and visit different parts of the city," Vladimir Malakhov, The Tokyo Ballet's new artistic adviser explained during our recent Japan Times interview.

"And at work," the former artistic director of the Berlin State Ballet continued, "I have my Malakhov Cuisine Hour every Monday, when I cook for the dancers and staff — and they seem to love it! I've made burgers, pate, borscht and lots of other things, and I am so happy to cook for my friends. I always wanted to do this one day — and finally, in Tokyo, it's happened."

Though he's now 47, Malakhov is still an active dancer, and he was also first soloist at the Berlin company he left last year. Then after joining The Tokyo Ballet as it was celebrating its 50th anniversary in August 2014, he danced in a gala staged in November by its principal dancer, Mizuka Ueno. In that, he performed in an extract from "Swan Lake" by the French-born so-called father of Russian ballet, Marius Petipa (1818-1910), and also danced "The Dying Swan," a 2009 piece created for him by the acclaimed young Italian choreographer Mauro de Candia.