"Teddy" Kumakawa, as his English-language friends and fans know him, is a spectacular Japanese ballet dancer. For many years he was one of the guest principals of the Royal Ballet in London. What sets him apart is the bouncing energy and speed in his pyrotechnics. Other male stars of great technique usually go for grand, heroic roles: the Prince leaping vast distances across the stage. Tetsuya Kumakawa's style is unique.

While other loved stars are given respectful sighs and applause when they appear, he is greeted with squealing like a pop star. And he revels in it. To watch him zip around the stage and jump endlessly is sheer joy: you're laughing at it constantly, yet in utter awe at the technical expertise. It's no party trick, but trained mastery as great as any other of the stars.

Sadly, the downward spiral of the Royal Ballet drove away several of their brightest lights, including Kumakawa and Sarah Wildor. He has now turned to choreography as well as dancing, and now runs a company called K-Ballet back in Japan. When he left in 1998 he took several other Royal Ballet stars with him, including William Trevitt and Michael Nunn, but it seems that their partnership has not turned out well; and they don't like the way Kumakawa has reinvented himself as a media star in Japan.

I saw him briefly earlier in 2003, when he appeared for only a couple of minutes in a solo, part of Covent Garden's tribute to Rudolf Nureyev. As stunning as ever, and with the same adoring groupies.

Those splits: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/arts/main.jhtml?xml=/arts/2001/01/23/btballet.xml
I can't see much else interesting in English on the Web.

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