Tamiyo Kusakari 草刈民代

Tokyo-born, Tamiyo Kusakari began ballet at the age of 8 before joining the prestigious Asami Maki troupe. At 22 she became their principal dancer and had her first leading role as Odette/Odile in "Swan Lake". That year she also won first prize at the All Japan Ballet Competition. The Muramatsu Award and Tachibana Akiko Award were added in the following years culminating in the Hatori Chieko Award in 1997. By 1991 she had reached an internationally-acclaimed standard and was invited to perform with the Stanislavsky and Nemorivich-Danchenko Music Theatre in Moscow. Numerous international guest appearances then resulted as her career developed between Japan and overseas. Between 1997 and 2009 she was a regular performer with the Leningrad National Ballet.

Looking beyond a life of performance, Kusakari moved into producing and in 2005 she put on an open-air ballet gala at the Aichi Expo Japan which was seen by 25,000 people. In 2006 she produced a celebration of the work of the legendary choreographer Roland Peitit in "Soirée de Danse Roland Petit" which showed in Paris, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Taiwan and in 8 cities throughout Japan. Another homage to her friend and mentor was "Esprit - The World of Roland Petit" which played in 11 Japanese cities in 2009. Roland Petit and his wife, Zizi Jeanmaire were a special inspiration to Kusakari and having danced in 11 of his projects, they were personally very close.

On screen, after a debut in a TV commercial as an up-and-coming ballerina at the age of 16, she went on to star in the multi-award winning "Shall We Dance?" in 1996. She herself won the Best Actress Award at the Japanese Academy Awards, a role which was reprised by Jennifer Lopez in the Miramax remake in 2003.

As her active dancing career came to a close, she focussed her energies on acting. 2009 saw her perform a lead theatrical role in the play "Miyagino" directed by the veteran director, Katsuhide Suzuki. In 2010 she joined the cast of the prestigious NHK historical drama "Life of Sakamoto Ryoma". 2011 and 2012 saw her return to the big screen in two of Masayuki Suo's movies, "Dancing Chaplin" and "A Terminal Trust". For the latter she received her second Japanese Academy Award. She is now established as one of the leading screen talents of her generation and new roles continue to be offered her.

In other fields, she published a collection of photos entitled "Ballerina" in 2010 and another in 2012 called "Intrinsic".



  • 1996
  • "Shall We Dance?"
  • 2011
  • "Dancing Chaplin"
  • 2012
  • "A Terminal Trust"
  • 2014
  • "Lady Maiko"


  • 2010
  • "Life of Sakamoto Ryoma" - NHK Historial Drama 
    "The Newcomer (Shinzanmono)" - (novel by Keigo Higashino) TBS
  • 2011
  • "The Diplomat" - Fuji TV
  • 2012
  • "Sleeping Middle-Aged Beauty" - NHK Drama



  • 2000
  • Prima Ballerina Exercise Routine


  • 2006
  • "Full Body Revolution" - Kodansha Publishing
    "Dedication to Ballet" - Gentosha Publishing


  • 2010
  • "Ballerine" Photography by - Tadayuki Minamoto/Hidemi Seto - Gentosha Publishing
  • 2012
  • "Intrinsic" Photography by Kazuyoshi Shimomura - Wani Publishing


  • 2010
  • The Kusakari Fitness Method - Magazine House Publishing


  • 1987
  • National Dance Competition prize
    Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology - First Prize
  • 1988
  • Muramatsu Prize for Dance
  • 1989
  • 16th Tachibana Akiko prize
  • 1996
  • 20th Japan Academy Awards - Best Actress "Shall We Dance?"
    70th Kinema Junpo Award - Best Newcomer
    18th Yokohama Film Festival - Best Newcomer
    Japan Film Critics' Award - Best Actress
  • 1997
  • 13th Hattori Chieko prize for Ballet
  • 2010
  • Japanese Vogue Magazine - Woman of the Year
  • 2012
  • 36th Japan Academy Awards - Best Actress "A Terminal Trust" National Film Organization - Best Actress



  • "Swan Lake"
    "Don Quixote"
    "Sleeping Beauty"
    "Le Corsaire"
    "La Sylphide"
    "The Nutcracker"
    "La Bayadere"
    "Grand Pas Classique"


  • "Pillar of Fire"
    "Echoing of Trumpets"
    "Lilac Garden"


  • "Romeo & Juliet"
    "La Traviata"


  • "Serenade"
    "Tchaikovsky - Pas de Deux"


  • "Serenade"
    "Tchaikovsky - Pas de Deux"


  • "The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter"


  • "L'Arlesienne"
    "Le Jeune Homme et la Mort"
    "La Chauve-Souris"
    "Leda et le Cygne"
    "Cheek to Cheek"
    "Duke Ellington Ballet"
    "Pink Floyd Ballet"
    "Without God nor Devil"
    "Jack the Ripper"
    "Dancing Chaplin"


  • "Carmen"


  • 1990
  • Invited by the Soviet Ministry of Culture to perform with the Maki Asami Ballet group at performances at Danchenko Theatre (Moscow) and Kirov Theatre (Saint Petersburg).
  • 1991
  • Invited to perform at the following: Danchenko Theatre (Moscow), Novi Sad (former Yugoslavia), Bucharest, Jassy, Cluj-Napoca, Timisoara (Romania)
  • 1994
  • Leningrad Ballet Theatre - Japan performances
  • 1997
  • Moscow Music Theatre: Japan performance, Leningrad National Ballet (current Mikhaylovsky Theatre, Saint Petersburg), Maly Theatre - guest performer. Continued to perform as a guest ballerina for 12 years until 2009. Also performed with this group during Japanese tours.
  • 1999
  • New National Theatre operetta performance - "Komori"
  • 2000
  • Toyota Millenium Concert
  • 2001
  • Moscow - Imperial Russia Ballet - guest performer - "Carmen Suite"
  • 2002
  • New National Theatre, Maly Theatre - guest performer
  • 2004
  • Park Hyatt Tokyo 10th Annual Memorial Charity Gala Party - Dream Theatre
  • 2005
  • Producer and Performer: Aichi Expo, "Love and Prayer" concert. Maki Asami Ballet group European tour - Paris (Champs Elysées Theatre), Barcelona (Tivoli Theatre), Biarritz (France, Gare du Midi Theatre) - performer.
  • 2006
  • Producer of "Soirée de Danse Roland Petit" - Paris (Champs Elysées Theatre), Shanghai (Shanghai Grand Theatre), Hong Kong (Hong Kong Culture Centre Main Theatre), Taiwan (Taipei - National Theatre) and performances in 8 Japanese cities. Invited by the Korea National Ballet group to perform the main role in Mats Ek's version of "Carmen" at the Seoul Art Centre.
  • 2007
  • Invited to perform at the Spoleto Festival
  • 2008
  • Tokyu Sylvester Concert
  • 2009
  • Producer of "Esprit - Roland Petit's World". Fourteen performances in 11 Japanese cities.