Saito (Fedorov)

Jury member of Benois de la Danse

Prima ballerina and Artistic Director of the Tokyo Ballet, Japan.Born in Yokohama, Japan.

Saito began her ballet training at the age of six with her mother who was a professional dancer. From the age of 16, she frequently visited Moscow to take lessons with Marina Semionova and Ekaterina Maximova. After gaining stage experience both within and outside Japan, she joined The Tokyo Ballet in 1987. While touring Europe with The Tokyo Ballet in 1988, Saito was chosen to dance the role of Lady Kaoyo, the heroine of Maurice Béjart's The Kabuki. In Béjart's Ballet Gala also held in 1988, she performed Bugaku with dancers of the Béjart Ballet Lausanne at Béjart's request. Her artistic excellence inspired another great choreographer John Neumeier to create Seven Haiku of the Moon in 1989. During The Tokyo Ballet's Russia tour in 1992, she danced the leading role in La Sylphide at the Bolshoi Theatre, the Mariinsky Theatre and the Kiev National Shevchenko Theatre, drawing lavish praise from Russian critics who called her a “Japanese Marie Taglioni”. During her 28 years with The Tokyo Ballet, Saito danced a full range of the Company’s principal roles. She performed many world premieres and The Tokyo Ballet's premieres including John Neumeier's Seasons —The Colors of Time (2000), Spring and Fall (2000), Lady of the Camellias (2004), Maurice Béjart's Bhakti III (2000), Jiří Kylián’s Dream Time (2000), Vladimir Vasiliev's Don Quixote (2001), Frederick Ashton's The Dream (2005), Pierre Lacotte's La Fille du Danube (2006), Natalia Makarova’s La Bayadère (2009) and John Cranko’s Onegin (2010). She was also acclaimed as a guest artist at major theaters around the world. In 2002, Saito published an autobiography titled Yukaryusha to portray her life as a dancer, mother and woman. Since 2004, she has been a member of the jury at The Russian Open Ballet Competition Arabesque. In 2009, she graduated from the Moscow State Academy of Choreography with highest honors in ballet master and ballet teaching. Her awards include the Hattori Chieko Award, the Tokyo Shimbun’s Dance Arts Award, the Kanagawa Bunka Award and the Medal of Honor with Purple Ribbon awarded by the Japanese government. Yukari Saito was appointed Artistic Director of The Tokyo Ballet in 2015.