“Ban brought natural grace to her role… embodying pure sweetness and beaming joy…”
- Holly Harris | Winnipeg Free Press, 2018
Yayoi Ban (née Ezawa) has been a Soloist in the Royal Winnipeg Ballet Company since 2014, after joining the Company as an Apprentice in 2005, and moving into the Corps de Ballet in 2006.
Yayoi’s notable roles include lead Russian Girl in George Balanchine’s Serenade, Giselle in Giselle, Nancy in Val Caniparoli’s A Cinderella Story, Odette/Odile in Swan Lake, Great Great Grandmother Irene in Twyla Tharp’s The Princess & The Goblin, Clara and Sugar Plum Fairy in Nutcracker, and Lilac Fairy in The Sleeping Beauty. She has also performed in Romeo and Juliet, Dracula, Swan Lake, Jorden Morris’ Peter Pan, and The Vertiginous Thrill of Exactitude as well as contemporary works such as Mark Godden’s Angels in the Architecture and As Above, So Below, Itzik Galili’s Hikarizatto, Mauricio Wainrot’s The Messiah and Carmina Burana, and Balanchine’s Concerto Barocco.
For the role of Giselle, Yayoi was coached by former RWB Company Principal dancer, Evelyn Hart. She says Giselle was her dream role and Evelyn Hart was the reason she came all the way to Winnipeg from Japan to dance in the RWB. This was one of her most inspirational experiences to date. In addition to dancing with the RWB Company, in 2011, Yayoi performed Peter Quanz’s In Tandem at Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival, and in 2012 she performed in Yosuke Mino’s Kevät as part of Q Dance.
Born in Chiba, Japan, Yayoi began her training at the age of nine at Rei Classical Ballet Institute, under Reiko Togashi, and Momoko Tani Ballet before joining the RWB School Professional Division in 2001. After graduating from the School’s Ballet Academic Program, Ms. Ban spent two years in the Anna McCowan-Johnson Aspirant Program before joining the Company as an Apprentice. During her training, she was the recipient of the Arnold Spohr Scholarship.
Yayoi’s pre-show ritual includes eating two hours before the show, as well as taking to the stage 30 minutes before the curtain goes up with her earphones in to go over her steps with the music while she imagines that the audience is there watching the show.
When she’s not dancing, Yayoi enjoys spending time with her family – namely, her husband and two young sons. She also likes cats (she has a friendly, cuddly cat named Sakura), window shopping, baking and traveling around the world.
Yayoi would love to see the RWB going out and perform internationally again in the future, especially to Japan.
Rei Classical Ballet Institute under Reiko Togashi
Momoko Tani Ballet
Royal Winnipeg Ballet School Professional Division
Royal Winnipeg Ballet School Anna McCowan-Johnson Aspirant Program