Starting ballet lessons at 25

Even though I had become an independent performer, I couldn’t join Cirque du Soleil immediately. The Yo-Yo techniques required to be a World Champion and the Yo-Yo techniques to be a professional performer are very different. “Titles are brilliant, but their contents are not.” That was the challenge I faced at that time.

I needed to grow as a performer, and luckily I found a job as regular performer at the shopping mall Ikspiari inside Tokyo Disney Resort, where I learned the basics from the established performers. Another key opportunity was meeting and getting advice from Viktor Kee, the juggler in the Cirque du Soleil show Dralion, who had long been an inspiration to me. “The movement of body, in harmony with music and ability to create an atmosphere. His was a total artistic performance that I want to create someday with the Yo-Yo...!”

In 2007, Viktor Kee came to Japan to perform in a festival and I went to watch his show. I had the chance to talk with him and asked him to watch a video of my performance. He commented, “Your Yo-Yo technique is wonderful, but your body movement is not good enough. You should learn dancing.”

I already understood that if I wanted to stand on the stage as a performer, I needed to polish my body movements. However, I had dodged this challenge until this point because of my childhood experiences, and hate of all sports and exercise. But Viktor Kee’s charisma reinforced his advice, and as soon as I got back to Tokyo, I started to learn ballet.

Honestly, I resisted the idea because I was already a 25-year old man and saw myself as not being athletic, so it might be meaningless. But at the time I didn’t have any other path open for getting closer to my dream, and “I would do anything if it was possible.” At first I was inflexible, with strange body movements. But two years later, as my movements improved, a big opportunity opened up.