“She has that ability to take your breath away at times on stage,” says artistic director Stanton Welch, who’s teaching today’s class. “That’s what you’re looking for as a choreographer and a director: somebody who has that unexplainable thing.”
For Kajiya, 31, that magic was hard earned. As a 10-year-old girl, she moved from her hometown of Nagoya, Japan, to China in 1994 to attend the Shanghai Dance School, a government-run institution where students were handpicked from countless applicants for their perfect ballet bodies—the long legs and high arches. Which was a problem for Kajiya. “I didn’t have any of that,” she says.