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Meet Kozue Kasahara of Dancer

Today we’d like to introduce you to Kozue Kasahara.

Kozue, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
I was born in Japan. I have an older sister and she was going to the ballet studio, so I followed her when I was 3 or 4. I have been training classical ballet since then. Both of us have been dancing seriously to be a professional dancer, but my parents wanted us to get the stable jobs since they were bankers. I knew they did not pursue my career as a professional dancer, so I went to the university. However, I could not give up on making my dream as a professional dancer because I believed that I was a talented and gifted dancer.

My ballet teachers taught me how amazing dancing is and also what the life is, which made me sure I am an extraordinary dancer. However, my family prioritized “normal life”, working at the office every weekday as most Japanese do. While I saw my sister face the reality as the first daughter of the Kasahara family and give up becoming a professional dancer, I thought I should make my dream to be a professional dancer come true not only for myself but also for my sister. Thus, I went to LA four years ago. I went to Santa Monica College as a dance major student. At the beginning of my life in LA was not easy due to no friends and lack of English skills.

I was also nervous if I deserved to be a dancer enough since I am short and masculine like a gymnast. However, everyone got interested in me because of my dance. Even though I struggled with my English, I got many friends and even opportunities as a dancer. While I was studying at Santa Monca College, I was featured in the article, promotion video, and my solo dance picture was used for the cover of the catalog for 2017 fall. the picture was even on the bus and train all over LA. After graduating, I was training under the Kybele Dance Theatre as an apprentice and the art director gave me the opportunity to perform. My professional career started then. I have performed with the Palm Dance Collective and Donna Sternberg & Dancers.

I was fortunate that I met one of the most amazing choreographers, Brigette Dunn-Korpela and I got the opportunity to perform the International Association of Blacks in Dance. Before I met her, I only danced classical style dance, but her movements were challenging, but thank her for believing me, I could get out of my comfort zone.

Furthermore, one of the biggest LA dance companies, Lula Washington Dance Theatre got interested in me and I am currently training under the LWDT. While I was working with the company, I got an offer to perform RawArtist, which is an organization for the artists all over the world and also to teach ballet at the dance studio. However, I need to get the artist visa to continue working in LA. getting the visa is my new challenging to pursue my career as a professional dancer.

Has it been a smooth road?
Before coming to LA, the decision to come to LA was so hard due to a family issue. After coming to LA, I struggled with language and culture difference. I realized I was training ballet in a Japanese way? I came here to train dancer seriously, so I could have gone dancing conservatory, but I did not know I had enough level to go there till I came here, so I went to the community college. The choice to go to the college makes the harder situation for now when it comes to applying for the visa even though I got huge achievements as a student.

After becoming a professional dancer, I sometimes feel the difference of the ethnicity. I unconsciously wonder if they judge me because I am an Asian. I have never experienced before because I was born and raised in Japan where has a monoculture. The diversity of the ethnicity was new to me and I still don’t have a sense of race.

We’d love to hear more about your business.
I am a part of the Lula Washington Dance Theatre and this community is an African American community. I am so blessed that I can be involved with them. so far I am the only Asian dancer and as I said before I don’t have the sense of racial difference.

However, this community is welcoming me with the warm heart and they seem to be proud of me as one of the dancers. I am also glad that I can challenge new dance styles as iI work with them. The opportunity to perform Rennie Harris’s piece was one of my challenging life experiences.

What quality or characteristic do you feel is most important to your success?
To me as a Japanese from Japan, it is still difficult to pursue, but if you take action like me, someone will notice your talent. Don’t spend time at your home. Go outside and meet people!!

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