Q&A with Naoya Ebe
June 8, 2023
Naoya Ebe. Photo by Karolina Kuras.
You are the first Asian male Principal Dancer of The National Ballet of Canada. What does that distinction mean to you and for the Asian community?
I feel honoured to be the first Asian male Principal Dancer at The National Ballet of Canada. If I can inspire younger generations and show them that their race isn’t a barrier to become what they want to be, I am proud of that contribution as a professional ballet dancer.
Who were some of your early mentors or role models from the Asian community?
I grew up in Japan, so my first teachers and coaches were Japanese. I started with gymnastics and switched to ballet when I was 12. I came to Canada to train at Canada’s National Ballet School when I was 15 and spoke no English but was welcomed and treated like every other student. I felt relief that even with such a different background I could pursue ballet with everyone else. I am grateful for such an experience.
There has been an international effort to improve Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion in dance, giving rise to movements like Final Bow for Yellowface, which aims to eradicate stereotypes of Asian people in ballet. How is ballet changing for the better?
I think ballet is changing in that it is all for expanding and embracing all races and ethnic backgrounds. My hope is that anyone who comes to the ballet can see themselves represented on stage. I feel very privileged to be able to share the art we create with all.
Learn more about Naoya