March 6, 2020

Q&A with Artist of Atelier Ballet Juri Hiraoka

In celebration of International Women's Day on March 8, 2020 we sat down with Artist of Atelier Ballet Juri Hiraoka to talk about her experience as an artist, dancer and mother. Juri has danced in over 15 Opera Atelier productions in Toronto and internationally. She has also danced at the National Ballet of Canada after graduating from Canada's National Ballet School. Coming up: Juri will perform in Opera Atelier's production of Handel's The Resurrection at Koerner Hall, April 11 - 19, 2020.

What do you like most about being an Artist of Atelier Ballet?

The people. Marshall and Jeannette (Opera Atelier's Co-Artistic Directors) draw wonderful individuals to every layer of OA, creating a warm family. I am very fortunate to work with all of them!


What has been your experience like being a new mom while being a dancer?

It was hard to be away from my baby at first but I realized rehearsing/performing gives me the perfect "me time" which I rarely have since becoming a mother. I find the hours in the studio and theatre fuels me with a good energy. It has been much better than I expected!


Who are the women that inspire you the most?

Mothers - both working and stay-at-home.


You've danced with Opera Atelier for over 10 years! What has been your favourite moment at the company?

The very first time performing in the Royal Opera House (2015) and the Royal Chapel (2017) in Versailles. It was just so magical.

Left to right: Soprano Mireille Asselin, and Juri Hiraoka performing in Opera Atelier's production of Harmonia Sacra at the Royal Chapel in Versailles, 2017.

What does International Women's Day mean to you?

It is a great reminder that there is still so much work to be done for women. I hope the momentum from the #MeToo movement continues to inspire and encourage everyone to take action for a better environment for all women in the world. 


What does being a dancer/artist mean to you?

It is a necessity as being a dancer is a part of me. It is truly a gift to have an opportunity to do what I love.   

Juri is just one of many incredible women at Opera Atelier. We are proud to have such strong women in our artistic, administrative and leadership roles. Happy International Women's Day!