Artistic Director, K-Ballet Company
Former Principal, the Royal Ballet
Prize Winner, Prix de Lausanne 1989 (Gold medal)
Jury Member, Prix de Lausanne 2023
The Prix de Lausanne is a young dancer’s gate to the dream. My advice to the candidates is that they should really try to remember to enjoy the moment. It’s fantastic to be there for the competition’s anniversary edition. Because I’m 50 years old too, what a coincidence! I’m really thankful to everyone involved in the competition, with much appreciation to its founders, Mr and Mrs Braunschweig, and all the staff who have dedicated themselves to make it happen every year.
Tetsuya Kumakawa was born in Hokkaido and started learning ballet at the age of 10. In 1987, he entered The Royal Ballet School. In 1989, he received a Gold Medal at the Prix de Lausanne. He also received the golden prize at the European Young Dancer of the Year competition held in Paris. That same year, he joined The Royal Ballet Company as the first oriental member and became the youngest soloist in its history. He was promoted to Principal Dancer in 1993 at the age of 23 and performed all major roles with The Royal Ballet.
In 1998 he left the Royal Ballet to start up his own company– the K-Ballet Company. He took on the roles of the leading dancer, Artistic Director, and choreographer simultaneously. But despite the formidable workload and responsibility, the new K-Ballet flourished, fostering a wider interest in Japanese ballet.
Since the founding of the ballet company, he has also shown his talent as a choreographer, and has released 12 classical works in his own adaptations. He has also presented full-act ballets such as the operatic works Carmen, Madame Butterfly, and the original ballet Cleopatra for which he created the script, as well as short pieces such as Carmina Burana, Beethoven No.9, and Clarimonde -La Morte Amoureuse.
In 2004, Mr. Kumakawa established the K-Ballet School and has been educating younger dancers with his own method and has cultivated the environment for ballet education in Japan. The same year, the K-Ballet became the first Japanese ballet company to perform at the Metropolitan Opera House in New York.
He has appeared as a Guest dancer with companies including Bolshoi Ballet, English National Ballet, Ballett Zürich, Hong-Kong Ballet, and in many galas around the world such as: Nureyev Gala, Gala Tribute to Sir Anthony Dowell at Royal Opera House, Super World Orchestra conducted by Lorin Maazel, the Spoleto Festival and Teatro di San Carlo in Italy.
For Mr. Kumakawa, Roland Petit created Bolero, Twyla Tharp created the role of Master Bring-the-Bag in Mr Worldly Wise, Sir Frederic Ashton created the role of The Fool in The Prince of the Pagodas.
In 2011, he was invited to be the Artistic Director for Bunkamura Orchard Hall, Tokyo.
In 2013, he was awarded the Medal of Honor with purple ribbon from the government which is given to people who have made outstanding contributions in the academic field and the arts.