Meet Principal Dancer Misa Kuranaga

Meet Principal Dancer Misa Kuranaga

“Coming back to SF Ballet is coming back to where I started.”

Misa Kuranaga joins San Francisco Ballet as a principal dancer this summer. Born and raised in Osaka, Japan, Kuranaga has spent the past 16 years as a dancer with Boston Ballet.

What drew you to SF Ballet?

Misa Kuranaga: In 2001, I got an award at the Prix de Lausanne that brought me to SF Ballet as an apprentice in the Company. During my year as an apprentice, I realized I need more training before I could get a job, because I didn’t really have basic technique. I went to SAB [School of American Ballet and spent a really great year in New York getting my technique going so I could survive as a dancer. And then I spent 16 years at Boston Ballet.

So coming to SF Ballet is coming back to where I started. I always dreamt of coming back here. I almost gave up, because 16 years in one company is a long time! But life is funny. I was invited to perform in SF Ballet’s 2019 [Opening Night] Gala and then I just felt that this is what I need to do as my next step. I love this Company.


How do you feel about San Francisco?

MK: I love the city. Eighteen years ago, it was too big for me, in every way. But after 16 years of experience in Boston, I feel like I’m finally ready to be here.


Turns or jumps?

MK: Turns! Turning is easier than jumping for me.


What’s your proudest moment as a dancer?

MK: Well, every moment is important to me, good or bad, because the accumulation of those moments is a career. When I’m on stage and I feel like I’ve met my expectation for myself or when it’s well received, that’s really nice. And coming back to here as a principal dancer is a proud moment.


Misa Kuranaga and Angelo Greco in Tomasson’s Soirées Musicales // © Erik Tomasson
Are there dancers that you admire?

MK: I love dancing with Angelo [Greco]! It’s just so rare to find this kind of crazy connection with a partner. Physically we’re great proportion-wise and our chemistry is right on stage and off stage too. I like him as a person so much.


Favorite thing to do on a day off?

MK: Right now I’m unpacking! I went to Baker Beach and that was really nice. I have friends here so I’m looking forward to spending time with them and getting to know San Francisco again.


What are you listening to now?

MK: I really like Queen. Freddie Mercury is so inspiring to me.


What’s your favorite app?

MK: [laughs] Instagram, definitely!


Header photo: Misa Kuranaga in Tomasson’s Soirées Musicales // © Erik Tomasson