Yoshiko Kamikusa of the Royal Winnipeg Ballet
Posted on September 11 2018
@yoshikokamikusa//PC: David Cooper
Profession. Priorities. Passion.
Hi everyone! My name is Yoshiko Kamikusa and I am currently a dancer with Canada’s Royal Winnipeg Ballet. I consider myself to have had an interesting upbringing being born in Tokyo and then moving to live in Hawaii, Vancouver, and Winnipeg. When I was seven years old, my parents took me to a local ballet studio in Hawaii. At the time, none of us thought it would be something I would stick to long-term, much less make it a profession. Nonetheless, here I am, passionate as ever about what I do and honestly not being able to imagine a different way of living.
One of the most important things to me as a professional dancer is to constantly maintain and build a strong, healthy body. Professional dancers have a strenuous schedule, rehearsing for hours in a day and sometimes working extensively without adequate rest. Our job is taxing physically and mentally. Being that our bodies are key instruments in the work that we do, I feel it is of utmost priority to take care of ourselves as best we can to try and ensure a fulfilling dance career. Although I regularly receive massage and chiropractic treatments, I am also a firm believer in physical self-care on a daily basis. So as a part of my everyday routine, I reserve an hour before class and another before bed to carry out this practice. During the pre-warmup before class, I try to wake up the body and get the blood flowing through a combination of strengthening and stretching. I concentrate mainly on ab work, light stretching, Thera-Band exercises for the feet, and checking basic alignment. The time allows me to ease into things by connecting with my body and setting it up to its optimal state for the day. Before bed, I focus on stretching and massaging out the tight spots that developed from rehearsals or performances. The foam roller, lacrosse ball, and foot roller are my must-have items to help with it! I care for my body whenever I can, but these hours dedicated to self-care really make a difference in how my body copes with the workload in the long-run.
Nutrition is also another thing I like to be conscious about. What we eat has a significant impact on how we look and feel, and as dancers, it really affects our performance in the studio and on stage. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day for me, but to be honest, I am not a morning person. Even so, whether I like it or not, I know I need that extra energy to get myself going so I do my best to get up early and eat properly. My favorite dish that I often eat for breakfast consists of cooked salmon, some sort of greens such as kale or spinach, and a poached egg on a bed of rice. I love it because this doesn’t take too much time to prepare and it’s packed with nutrients that keep me energized without feeling weighed down. I also recently took up a super simple but healthy smoothie recipe that requires only cherries, soy milk, and a blender! The smoothie trend started when I was experiencing severe muscle soreness during rehearsals for a new creation process. Since the pain was quite persistent even after my usual self-care treatment, I decided to research foods that might help relieve the tightness. Tart cherry juice happened to be a common answer among the websites I came across, so I put my own spin on it with the ingredients I had in my fridge at the time. The cherries did help alleviate the soreness and I also found that the smoothie was a convenient form of fuel in between rehearsals, especially if I don’t have the time to eat much. Other energy bites during the day include bananas, nuts, and the SimplyProtein and Genuine Health bars. When you dance for about 7 hours a day, it’s important to sustain enough power to feel strong and keep up with what the company requires of you.
Yoshiko's "go to" breakfast and snacks.
That was a little bit of insight into some of the things I value in my life as a professional ballet dancer. Being in this profession requires dedication and hard work, achieved through a strong mentality and body. Above all, you need to be passionate and embrace this art wholly with its ups and downs. I truly feel that the passion I have for it is what drives me to come into work everyday to repeat the same routine, but still find new things to work on and enjoy. I simply want to be a better artist than the day before. It’s not always easy to stay motivated and without doubt, I have and will continue to encounter obstacles along the way. In spite of this, that fleeting moment on stage when I feel incredibly alive and able to share my love for dancing with the audience, somehow makes it all worth it.