ENB’s lead principal has seen ballet grow better, bolder and kinder over 25 years. Now she is taking on Akram Khan’s version of Frankenstein

Erina Takahashi got lost on her first day at ballet school. Just arrived in London aged 15, speaking barely any English, she decided to take a side road and ended up panicked, unable to find her way back. “I’ll never forget that,” she says. “I don’t know why I felt like I wanted to be adventurous and go a different route.”

She paints herself as a shy teen, but what could be more adventurous than moving across the world on your own to become a dancer? There was loneliness in following that dream, whether stranded on the back streets of Kensington, or living in a hostel, staying as late as she could at school to avoid going back to her room. But once Takahashi did find English National Ballet School that first day, she basically never left, joining the ENB company in 1996 at 17 and 25 years later as a lead principal she’s still there. That’s an epic career for a ballet dancer, still on pristine form at 43 with no immediate plan to retire.

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