On Friday April 4th, I took a ballet class at Millennium Dance Complex located off the Harajuku train exit in Tokyo. Millennium Dance Complex is a franchise of the original located in North Hollywood, California. The Japan studio is conveniently located off the famous Takeshita street where you see all the Harajuku kids dressed up in crazy outfits. The ballet class is ongoing every Friday with Tokyo Ballet ballerina Mai Yajima as the instructor. Class starts at 6:45 and ends at 8:15. As a new student at the studio, I got the introductory class price of 1,000 yen, which is just under 10 US dollars. Classes thereafter are 3,000 yen each, but of course, if you buy a package of classes then you receive a discount.
Classes at the Japan Millennium are small right now as it is a new studio and there are so many dance studios here in Tokyo. I was a bit nervous being in a new place and taking from someone who is currently dancing professional ballet, but I am getting older so I just made myself get over it. Who cares right? My belief is try your hardest in class, but you can’t be perfect. Besides, if they are yelling at you or telling you your horrible, at least it’s in another language!
I met the teacher beforehand in the locker room introduced by a staff worker. She seemed very nice and cordial. I asked her in my cut and paste Japanese if I could wear my pointe shoes at the barre, she had no problem with that. I warmed up in the dance room – which is beautiful – and noticed that no students were coming in even though it was about time to start. A few moments later she closed the doors and she proceeded to start class. I said if it’s ok for class as I was the only student and I did not want to waste her time. She insisted we keep class and start barre, which I thought was very kind of her.
Miss. Yajima ended up giving me a 1.5 hour ballet private! I felt so lucky! Not only is she a beautiful dancer (her extensions, port de bra, and epaulement is gorgeous), but she gave GREAT corrections. May I interject here to say that Miss. Yajima knows very little English, and I know maybe 20 words in Japanese. But she was able to fully communicate with me by showing a specific correction during the lesson. Every single exercise we worked on specific ideas to help me improve my ballet. I would highly recommend Mai Yajima if you are in Tokyo and wish to keep up with your ballet while traveling. I am hoping to take another ballet class with Miss.Yajima before we leave for Kyoto. Hopefully if we get permission I will have some photos.