Eri Nishihara began dancing at the age of five in Hiroshima, Japan, where she grew up. She moved with her family to Reno, NV at the age of 12 and continued her ballet training at the Conservatory of Movement. She holds a BFA in Ballet Performance from the University of (continued on next page) Utah, where she studied for two years before joining the second company at Richmond Ballet in 2014. She was promoted to the main company in 2017 and has since danced in many works, including Ma Cong’s Firebird, Jerome Robbins’ In the Night, George Balanchine’s Allegro Brillante and Who Cares?, Malcolm Burn’s Romeo and Juliet, and John Butler’s Carmina Burana. She is also part of the faculty at School of Richmond Ballet, as well as a part-time piano accompanist for the School classes. This is her tenth season with Richmond Ballet.
Education & Training
Tanihara Ballet Studio in Hiroshima, Japan, The Conservatory of Movement in Reno, Nevada, BFA in Ballet Performance (2014) from University of Utah.
Professional Experience / Career Highlights
My career highlight would be being promoted into the Company at Richmond Ballet!
What inspired you to become a professional dancer?
I always loved to dance wherever I went, ever since I was a little girl. That, combined with my passion for music, has kept me in love with dancing all my life. It didn’t occur to me that I might be able to dance as a professional until I saw young dancers pursuing their dreams. I think I was inspired by my friends; they gave me the courage I needed to give it a go at something that was merely a dream.
What is your favorite role that you’ve performed?
I loved performing Princess Florine in The Sleeping Beauty. It was so exciting to feel challenged and it was the most fun to perform! That was the first time I got to perform a classical pas de deux as a professional on a big stage.
What do you enjoy about being part of Richmond Ballet?
We are a small company so we get to be close friends dancing all day, every day. The camaraderie makes even the hardest dancing days fun. I love that each dancer here is so unique; it’s so exciting to see everyone shine in different pieces and roles!
What do you like about living in Richmond?
I absolutely love walking around Richmond; it’s a beautiful city with lots of character. I never get tired of exploring this city and the nature around it. The local food scene is very fun too!
What hobbies or activities do you enjoy doing off-stage?
I love to be outside! I’m always looking for opportunities to walk, hike, go for a run, and picnic! I played classical piano for a long time growing up, so I also really love to go into the studio when it’s empty and “borrow” the piano to play.
Our professional company is made up of elite dancers from around the world who have helped earn Richmond Ballet critical acclaim. Dance/USA says Richmond Ballet is “a jewel among U.S. dance companies,” while The Washington Post calls it “a company to which dance fans everywhere ought to pay attention.” We’re proud of all that our company dancers bring to Richmond, and the world.
The Richmond Ballet Studio Company is the highest level of School of Richmond Ballet, featuring exceptional student dancers from across the country. The eleven-month program includes a diverse range of performance opportunities such as Lecture Demonstrations, Richmond Ballet Company mainstage performances, and the end-of-season showcase with the Richmond Ballet Trainees.
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Katrina May Thomas
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Founded in 1993, the nationally recognized Richmond Ballet Trainee Program offers select advanced students a transitional experience to bridge the gap between the academic ballet setting and the world of professional dance. The Richmond Ballet Trainee Program is one of the few in this country that enables aspiring dancers to pursue formal dance training and gain valuable performance experience with a professional company.
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The Artistic Staff at Richmond Ballet is made up of international professionals who each bring incredible talent, expertise, and credentials to their respective roles. With impressive backgrounds and world experience, they offer a unique perspective that has helped shape our organization over the years. For over 40 years, Stoner Winslett has served as the founding Artistic Director of Richmond Ballet, the first major company of professional dancers in the Commonwealth of Virginia. She is one of the longest tenured artistic directors of a major ballet company and one of the country’s few female artistic directors. In June 2020, acclaimed choreographer Ma Cong joined Richmond Ballet as its first ever Associate Artistic Director.