Introduced by David Bintley
Born in Fukuoka, Japan, Nao Sakuma trained at the Michiko Komori Ballet School and the Royal Ballet School, joining Birmingham Royal Ballet in 1995. She was promoted to Principal in 2002. Nao is a virtuoso classical dancer with a formidable technique and leads the Company in the classical repertory. She is particularly celebrated for her Aurora in The Sleeping Beauty and won great acclaim dancing that role during the Company’s first visit to the Richmond Festival in Virginia, USA. A sure comic touch can also be seen in performances such as Lise in La Fille mal gardée and Swanilda in Coppélia, and she scored a particular success in the role of the Young Girl in Sir Frederick Ashton’s The Two Pigeons, which the Company danced at The Met in New York during the celebrations of that choreographer’s centenary. With her frequent partner Chi Cao she has represented the Company at several prestigious occasions, including the Ballet Boyz gala which re-opened the Royal Festival Hall in London in 2006. In autumn 2012 she danced as a guest of the National Ballet of Japan in the title role of Sylvia, the role she created for Birmingham Royal Ballet.
Frederick Ashton: La Fille mal gardée (Lise), The Two Pigeons (Gypsy Girl, Young Girl), The Dream (Titania), Scènes de ballet, Symphonic Variations, Les Rendezvous (lead role) and Voices of Spring
George Balanchine: Apollo (Polyhymnia), The Four Temperaments (Theme 1 and Melancholic Variation), Tarantella, Tchaikovsky pas de deux, Mozartiana (lead role) and Western Symphony
David Bintley: Arthur (Guinevere), Beauty and the Beast (Belle), Sylvia (title role), Aladdin (Princess Badr al-Budur), Hobson's Choice (Salvation Army), Carmina burana (Roast Swan), The Nutcracker Sweeties (Candy Kane, Arabesque Cookie), Les Petits Riens (lead role), The Shakespeare Suite (Juliet) Choros, The Dance House, 'Still Life' at the Penguin Café, and David Bintley and Galina Samsova's production of Giselle (Giselle, 'Harvest pas de deux')
John Cranko: The Lady and the Fool (La Capricciosa)
Mikhail Fokine: The Firebird (title role)
Kit Holder: Small Worlds
Kenneth MacMillan: Romeo and Juliet (Juliet), Elite Syncopations ('Bethena Concert Waltz'), La Fin du jour and Solitaire (Girl)
Marius Petipa: Diana and Acteon pas de deux and Don Quixote pas de deux
Twyla Tharp: Nine Sinatra Songs ('One for My Baby') and In the Upper Room
Ninette de Valois: Checkmate (Black Queen)
Peter Wright's productions of Coppélia (Swanilda, 'Dawn'), The Nutcracker (Sugar Plum Fairy, Rose Fairy), The Sleeping Beauty (Princess Aurora, Enchanted Princess, Fairy of Temperament, pas de quatre), and Peter Wright and Galina Samsova's production of Swan Lake (Odette/Odile)
David Bintley: Concert Fantasy (lead role) and The Seasons ('Spring')
Special Jury Prize, Jackson Ballet Competition, 1998; Critics' Circle Award nomination, 2001.
The Royal Ballet (Scènes de ballet); The Star Dancers Ballet, Japan (Coppélia, Giselle, The Nutcracker).