A first ‘Nutcracker’ for Columbia Classical Ballet’s Japanese star

December 6, 2013 

  • If you go ‘Nutcracker’ by the Columbia Classical Ballet

    WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Friday; 3 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday; and 3 p.m. Sunday

    WHERE: Koger Center for the Arts, 1051 Greene St.

    TICKETS: $5-$32

    INFO: www.capitoltickets.com or (803) 251-2222

Kote Fuijishima, the award-winning dancer with the Columbia Classical Ballet, is performing in his first “Nutcracker” this weekend at the Koger Center.

Fuijishima is a native of Japan, and joined the company this season, dancing the lead male role in Classical Ballet’s production of “Don Quixote.”

In “Nutcracker,” Fuijishima will be dancing the part of the Nutcracker Prince, the transformed toy who travels with the girl Clara to the Land of Sweets for an adventure in the second act.

We asked Fuijishima about some of the holiday traditions of the Japanese, who love Christmas as much as Americans. Christmas is a big party holiday for most Japanese, who regard it as a secular rather than religious day.

Santa is popular in the U.S., but Col. Sanders (of Kentucky Fried Chicken) dressed as Santa Claus is really popular in Japan, because people eat fried chicken at Christmas. So, who do you like better: Santa or Col. Sanders?

I like Santa Claus much better. The whole thing with Col. Sanders has gotten out of hand.

What is Christmas cake (a sponge cake laden with strawberries and seasonal fruit)?

It’s a tradition in Japan to have a special cake at Christmas and that’s something we always look forward to.

The New Year in Japan is more like how we Americans celebrate Christmas – getting together with families, sharing cards and presents. What will you do this holiday?

Since I’m a long way from home and we’re working hard all during December and January performances with the Classical Ballet I will spend the holidays in Columbia. Ballet Artistic Director Radenko Pavlovich always has a big party for the dancers for Thanksgiving and Christmas at his house. So I’ll be getting together with my large extended Classical Ballet family.

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