Yumiko Takeshima’s Farewell Performance in Dresden


Tomorrow, principal dancer Yumiko Takeshima says farewell to Semperoper Ballett dancing the Giselle choreographer David Dawson created on her. You might already know Yumiko from her legendary brand of leotards, but she is also an established costume designer, having collaborated with choreographers like David Dawson, Jorma Elo and William Forsythe.

Yumiko chatted to us about the emotions she is experiencing ahead of her last Giselle, her future plans and her current collaboration with none other than Alexei Ratmansky:

Yumiko Takeshima as Giselle

Yumiko Takeshima in David Dawson’s Giselle. Photo: © Costin Radu

TBB: Tell us about what’s happening over the next few days.

Yumiko: Yes, it is all happening!!

TBB: When is your last show?

Yumiko: My last show is Tuesday, 22. I am dancing David Dawson’s Giselle

Yumiko Takeshima and Raphael Coumes-Marquet in David Dawson's On the Nature of Daylight

Yumiko Takeshima and Raphael Coumes-Marquet in David Dawson’s On the Nature of Daylight. Photo: © Shinji Suzuki

TBB: We know that’s a very special role for you. What changes have you experienced while dancing it through the years?

Yumiko: Yeah, I’ve done it so many times, but I have to say: now that I am a lot older than when it was created, I am trying to approach it as a more grown-up Giselle. Maybe not as much as a ‘yipee-yipee’ girl but as a more thoughtful one. And also technically, I am not such a spring chicken anymore, so I have to tone it down, in a very grounded sort of feeling.

Yumiko Takeshima as Odette

Yumiko Takeshima as Odette with Dutch National Ballet. Photo: © Angela Sterling

TBB: How did the decision to say farewell to the stage come about?

Yumiko: I have to say, I thought a lot about it. I gave birth last year and, of course, I wanted to go back to dancing, but at the same time, I started to feel that I needed to spend more time with my son and also, physically, it is very hard to come back. Now I know what it’s like, what all the women in the world who have given birth, have to do, and oh my god, it is so hard!

TBB: Plus, in the ballet world, it must be quite the added challenge…

Yumiko: Yes, my God, I was carrying potato bags around my waist! Also, I felt like I had danced everything I wanted already, and I don’t have any regrets so I thought, it is a good time to stop. It is coming very peacefully and I also want to focus more on designing dancewear and costumes.

Yumiko Takeshima as Odile

Yumiko Takeshima as Odile – Photo: © Costin Radu

TBB: We also wanted to ask you about that, because we saw your wonderful designs for Dawson’s Human Seasons for the Royal Ballet. Will you continue to collaborate with him?

Yumiko: Oh yes, for sure. He has given me all the opportunities for designing in all his new creations and the ones coming up in the next couple of years.

TBB: How about other choreographers?

Yumiko: I am currently working with Alexei Ratmansky in his new creation for Dresden. It premieres June 28. He has given me so much freedom and he is always so polite, allowing me to try this or that. In our third meeting, I was already the one saying ‘no, no we are not going to do this, we are going to take this out’.


Yumiko Takeshima as Giselle

Yumiko Takeshima in David Dawson’s Giselle. Photo: © Costin Radu

TBB: What kind of concept are you envisaging there?

Yumiko: The costumes for this ballet take hints from Victorian dress, in whites and creams. Everyone has different costumes, but all the men are in the same shades of white.

TBB: How about the Yumiko brand?

Yumiko: The new shop opened in Berlin and it is going well. People are visiting from all around the place, and they don’t have to wait for their leotards. I will be there more often and I might do some special and one-of-a-kind designs exclusive to the shop.

TBB: Anything you want to share ahead of Tuesday?

Yumiko: I am just very grateful that I managed to dance this long and I have the opportunity to end it with this wonderful Giselle. I really want to dance with all the appreciation towards every single person who supported me on my career.


We asked Yumiko to send us her favorite ballet shots to illustrate this Q&A. She sent us these beautiful images and told us about the last: ‘I never had such a good split jump…. but in this one Costin Radu had caught the good moment!’

Toi toi toi for tomorrow Yumiko!

We started The Ballet Bag in April 2009 with the mission to prove that ballet is not stuffy, old fashioned and inaccessible; that it is quite the opposite: relevant, fresh and topical. With the aim to Give Ballet a New Spin we try to show it under a different light. When writing our capsule biographies, ballet fact cards, review roundups and commentary on social media, we cross it over with other art forms and cultural references (pop culture, cinema, rock music – ie. other things we love!).

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