Pointes East

Asia Society Texas premieres Japanese-based ballet Tsuru.

By Adam Castañeda June 23, 2015

Houston Ballet soloist Nao Kusuzaki stars in Tsuru

This weekend Asia Society Texas premieres the new ballet Tsuru, a retelling of the Japanese fairytale The Crane Wife. In the fairytale, Tsuru is a crane that turns into a woman to become the wife of the man who released her from a hunter's trap. The new production, in collaboration with the Houston Ballet, is brought to life by artistic director Matthew Ozawa and soloist Nao Kusuzaki for a special two-day event this Saturday and Sunday, June 27 and 28. 

Ozawa says the work has universal appeal. "We as humans relate easily to stories of myth, especially those deeply impacted by transformations and metamorphosis," he says. "They help uncover and reveal deep universal truths of who we are."

"[The ballet's] heroine lives a life of duality: a crane behind the screens and a woman in the public’s eyes," says soloist Kusuzaki, who will dance on pointe as the crane and on flat as the woman. "Many ballet heroines journey through these dualities and take on different forms, such as Maiden to Odette in Swan Lake, Giselle to Wilis in Giselle, and Temple Dancer to Shade in La Bayadere." There's a difference, though, as Kusuzaki points out: Tsuru has complete autonomy over her destiny. She is in complete control of her transformation and decides when she is crane and when she is woman.

Kusuzaki has wanted to share the unique culture of Japan through dance ever since moving to Houston 11 years ago. "For me, the longer I live away from my home country of Japan, the more reverence I have—reverence toward tradition and innovation, transcendence and solidarity, and of understated, but, fierce, strength and integrity." All of them will be on display this weekend at Asia Society Texas. 

Saturday, June 27 at 7:30. Sunday, June 28 at 2. $25–35. Asia Society Texas, 1370 Southmore Blvd. 713-496-9901.

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