World Premiere: 'Genji'VIEW EVENT DETAILS
Presented in partnership with the Houston Ballet
This program has taken place. Find the event recap here »
Friday, March 24, 2023
7:30 p.m. Performance
Reception to Follow
Saturday, March 25, 2023
7:30 p.m. Performance
Genji, the passionate and poetic new ballet by Nao Kusuzaki, is a contemporary retelling of the classic novel The Tale of Genji, about friendship, love, and the dynamics of power and social class in Heian-period Japan. Featuring dancers from the Houston Ballet, sumptuous production design, and original music composed and played live by acclaimed musician Kaoru Watanabe, this is a not-to-be-missed world premiere event.
Genji was commissioned by Asia Society Texas.
Ryo Kato (Genji)
Jindallae Bernard (Rokujyo)
Emma Forrester (Aoi)
Aoi Fujiwara (Fujitsubo)
Yumiko Fukuda (Murasaki)
Choreographer and Artistic Director
Composer and Musician
Lighting Designer and Stage Manager
Expanding the Classical Ballet Canon Part I: Nao Kusuzaki's Genji at Asia Society Texas Center in Partnership with Houston Ballet, Arts and Culture Texas, February 2, 2023.
Nao Kusuzaki's World Premiere Ballet, Genji, marks Asia Society Texas' second dance commission in its 43-year history, Houston Arts Journal, February 17, 2023.
Houston Ballet and Asia Society present world premiere of Nao Kusuzaki's 'Genji,' Houston Chronicle, February 28, 2023.
Nao Kusuzaki Helms World Premiere of Genji, The Dance DiSH, March 14, 2023.
The Many Loves of Prince Genji Take Center Stage at Asia Society Texas, Houston Press, March 20, 2023.
About the Artists
Nao Kusuzaki was born in Ehime prefecture, Japan. After moving to the U.S. at age 10, she continued her training with the Washington School of Ballet and Boston Ballet School. Nao became a member of Corps de Ballet with Boston Ballet in 2001. In 2004 she joined Houston Ballet and was promoted to Soloist in 2009. She has danced numerous leading roles in both classical and contemporary repertoire. Some of her featured roles include: the Sugarplum Fairy and the Snow Queen in The Nutcracker, Nikiya in La Bayadere, Madame Butterfly in Madame Butterfly, Lilac Fairy in Sleeping Beauty, Odette and Odile in Swan Lake, Jiri Kylian’s Petite Mort, Sinfonietta, and Falling Angels, William Forsythe’s In the Middle Somewhat Elevated, Twyla Tharp’s In the Upper Room, Christopher Wheeldon’s Rush, and Mark Morris’s Pacific. Nao is also active in the Houston community through producing Dance for Hope, a benefit Concert in response to Japan Earthquake of 2011, co-creating TSURU with Asia Society Texas in 2015, and directing and dancing the 45th Anniversary Ballet Performance celebrating Houston and Chiba Sister City Relations, which premiered in July 22, 2017. In November, 2017, she directed and danced in the revival of TSURU at the Miller Outdoor Theatre in Houston where Nao was commended by the Consulate General, Japan. Nao is Founder and Executive/Artistic Director of Creative Minds Collaborative Inc., a nonprofit organization which seeks to create meaning across artists, educators, and supporters of the arts utilizing dance as the main medium.
Composer and musician Kaoru Watanabe grounds his performance in traditional Japanese music while inhabiting a startling combination of musical worlds. He is renowned for his ability to collaborate with a diverse array of visionary international artists: Jason Moran, Yo-Yo Ma and Silkroad, Spanish flamenco dancer Eva Yerbabuena, visual artists Simone Leigh and Alyson Shotz, calligrapher Koji Kakinuma, Japanese National Living Treasure Bando Tamasaburo, vocalists Alicia Hall Moran and Imani Uzuri, tap dancers Tamango and Kazunori Kumagai, Galician bagpiper Carlos Nuñez, So Percussion, Semba Kiyohiko, Reigakusha, Brooklyn Raga Massive, Adam Rudolph and Go:Organic Orchestra, the Aizuri and Parker String Quartets, and pipa virtuoso Wu Man. In 2018, Watanabe debuted as an orchestral soloist and composer with the Sydney Symphony at the Sydney Opera House. He is an advisor, composer, and featured musician on the Oscar-nominated score of Wes Anderson’s film Isle of Dogs and was a guest artist on the Silkroad's Grammy Award-winning album Sing Me Home.
Presenting Sponsors of Genji
Stephanie and Frank Tsuru
Diamond Sponsors of Genji
Leigh and Reggie Smith
Gold Sponsors of Genji
Anne and Albert Chao
Bill and Loma Hobson
Silver Sponsors of Genji
Isla and T.R. Reckling III
Vivi Nguyen and Christopher Robertson
Bronze Sponsors of Genji
Jean and Henry May
Duyen and Marc Nguyen
Cabrina and Steven Owsley
Milton D. Rosenau, Jr. & Dr. Ellen R. Gritz
Margaret Alkek Williams
Japan Series Sponsor
Performing Arts and Culture programs at Asia Society Texas are presented by Syamal and Susmita Poddar. Major support comes from Nancy C. Allen, Chinhui Juhn and Eddie Allen, the City of Houston through Houston Arts Alliance, Houston Endowment, and The Brown Foundation Inc. Generous funding also provided by AARP, The Anchorage Foundation of Texas, The Clayton Fund, The Cullen Trust for the Performing Arts, and the Wortham Foundation. Additional support provided by the Texas Commission on the Arts, National Endowment for the Arts, and through contributions from the Friends of Asia Society, a dedicated group of individuals and organizations committed to bringing exceptional programming and exhibitions to Asia Society Texas.
Performing Arts and Culture Presenting Sponsors
Syamal and Susmita Poddar
Performing Arts and Culture Program Sponsors
About Asia Society Texas
Asia Society Texas believes in the strength and beauty of diverse perspectives and people. As an educational institution, we advance cultural exchange by celebrating the vibrant diversity of Asia, inspiring empathy, and fostering a better understanding of our interconnected world. Spanning the fields of arts, business, culture, education, and policy, our programming is rooted in the educational and cultural development of our community — trusting in the power of art, dialogue, and ideas to combat bias and build a more inclusive society.
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Houston, Texas 77004