@Sunao noto


What impact has COVID-19 had on your life in 2020?

The ballet company I belong to had a show scheduled to open in March 2020. That was cancelled. One week later, our studio had to close, which meant no more lessons or rehearsals. I was really worried how long things would go on like that. Luckily, the company started offering lessons via the Internet, so I could keep up my daily training at home.

Has the pandemic changed your thinking?

I've developed a new sense of gratitude for the whole dance infrastructure—the studio where we practise and rehearse and, more than anything, the opportunity to dance on stage. Getting back to that any time soon will be difficult, but I'm looking forward to our next wonderful performance and the moment when we can finally dance for all the people who want to see us.

Has the 'new normal' changed how you spend your time?

Before the pandemic, every waking moment of my life was ballet: class, rehearsals, performances. There were never enough hours in the day! Now that I spend more time at home, I have a bit more time for myself. Recently, I've started working on improving myself. I don't just mean the basic training I do here at home; I've also got the time to try new things like cooking and knitting. The 'new normal' has given me the chance to develop new sides of myself.

During the pandemic, you left the UK for a brief stay in Japan.
How was it going back to the UK afterwards?

I spent about three months in Japan and got back to the UK in July. Getting together in a group was still forbidden at that point, but now things are slowly getting back to normal. When I got back here after several months, to see my friends after such a long time was really quite emotional. I felt a renewed sense of gratitude for being able to do ballet and to see my friends—the everyday things I'd always taken for granted.

What are you planning to take on next?

Some members of the Royal Ballet have been putting on a show called 'DistDancing.' It's an outdoor performance that incorporates social distancing. Because ordinary passers-by can enjoy it for free, it's a great way to expose people with no interest in what we do to dance and ballet. I'd really like to organise something like that in future.

How do you stay positive on a day-to-day basis?

Ever since I was small, I've always liked the saying that 'it's dreams that make our lives special.' With the pandemic, there are plenty of things that don't work out how we want. The best thing is to try to get the most out of every single day so that your future self will look back on this time with gratitude. If you do your best on a day-by-day basis, you'll gradually get closer to realising your goals and your dreams.

What does 'Better Starts Now' mean for you?

It means trying to make the best of whatever situation you find yourself in. For instance, even though I can't use the ballet studio or the gym, I've devised a training regimen to follow at home and I get up a bit earlier than before to stretch and run. It doesn't matter how small, it's important to set yourself some sort of challenge every day.

Sae Maeda Profile

  • Born in Yokohama in 1998. Started ballet at the age of seven at the Mayumi Kinochi School of Ballet. In 2014, won the second-prize scholarship at the Prix De Lausanne competition, entered the Royal Ballet School and also won the MEXT Award. Graduated from the Royal Ballet School in 2017, winning both the Ashton Award and the London Ballet Circle Dame Ninette Award. Currently belongs to the English Royal Ballet. There is great interest in her future career.
Sae Maeda’s watch
Sae Maeda featured in Elegance. In its Purest Form, the 2017 brand movie for Eco-Drive One. She wore an Eco-Drive one as she performed an improvisational dance with tap dancer Kazunori Kumagai.