LONDON - Britain’s Royal Ballet said Friday that two of its Japanese dancers, Ryoichi Hirano and Akane Takada, will be elevated to principal dancers for the 2016-2017 season starting in September.
The male and female pair will be the first Japanese principals at the Royal Ballet since Tetsuya Kumakawa was promoted to the rank in 1993 and ballerina Miyako Yoshida moved to the ballet company as principal in 1995.
Principals are the highest ranked dancers at a company and often play leading roles.
“I feel extremely honored. My dream has come true,” said Hirano, adding that he will continue to work hard. “I’m really glad that the promotion came even though I’m over thirty.”
Hirano, 32, joined the Royal Ballet in 2002 and has been a first soloist since 2012, while Takada, 26, entered the company in 2009 after dancing with it on scholarship the previous year and has been a first soloist since 2014, the company said on its website.
Two other dancers, Alexander Campbell of Australia and Francesca Hayward of Britain, will also be promoted to principals at the Royal Ballet for the upcoming season.
“The dream my son was chasing all these years has come true,” Hirano’s mother, Setsuko, said in a telephone interview, noting that her son had practiced at her ballet school since he was little. “No words can describe how happy I am.”
Hiromi Takahashi, who instructed Takada at her ballet studio in Tokyo, said the young dancer felt special to her from the beginning. “Ever since she clutched a bar in my studio at age 3, she’s had this aura that made me think, ‘Who am I dealing with?’ ” she said.
“I’m very happy that she will be a principal at the Royal Ballet. It has been her dream for a long time,” Takahashi said.
Hirano hails from Amagasaki, Hyogo Prefecture, and won an apprenticeship prize at the 2001 Prix de Lausanne. Takada is from Tokyo and won an audience award as well as a scholarship at the 2008 Prix de Lausanne.
The Royal Ballet is scheduled to tour Japan from Thursday for the first time in three years and perform “Romeo and Juliet” and “Giselle” in such cities as Tokyo and Nagoya.