Principals Aki Saito and Wim Vanlessen take their final bow at Ballet Flanders

It’s with a heavy heart we bring you this news… Our 2018-2019 season will be the last one for principals Aki Saito and Wim Vanlessen, our ballet company’s shining stars for nearly 25 years.

Aki Saito & Wim Vanlessen (in Sonate by Maurice Béjart) @ Marc Haegeman

Aki Saito & Wim Vanlessen (in Sonate by Maurice Béjart) @ Marc Haegeman

Sleeping Beauty, Onegin, Artifact, Impressing The Czar, Swan Lake, Fall, Chronicle, Spartacus, ... The list of performances on Aki and Wim’s track record goes on and on, astonishing press, public and choreographers across the world. Sadly, after 25 years on stage, the time has come to say goodbye to our iconic duo.

Aki will take the spotlight one last time in a gala performance of Giselle on November 10th.

‘This is naturally an emotional moment,’ says Aki, ‘But I look back at the past 25 years with gratitude and great warmth. I am also very glad and excited that I can take leave of the audience and fans in this powerful and emotional production of Giselle.’

Aki Saito (in Theme and Variations by George Balanchine) © Johan Persson

Aki Saito (in Theme and Variations by George Balanchine) © Johan Persson

Wim is going out in style as well: he’ll be reprising his iconic Boléro, the choreography by Maurice Béjart, for which he received international acclaim and praise when first performed two years ago. His final farewell performance is planned for February 2nd at Stadsschouwburg in Antwerp.

Wim faces the future with confidence: “I am looking forward tremendously to taking my precious experience into the next stage of my career and grasping new opportunities at the national and international levels.”
 

Wim Vanlessen (in Spartacus by Yuri Grigorovich) © Filip Van Roe

Wim Vanlessen (in Spartacus by Yuri Grigorovich) © Filip Van Roe

Our artistic director Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui emphasises how rare and unique it is to have two principals dancing for the same company for 25 years: “Next year, Ballet Vlaanderen will celebrate its fiftieth anniversary. Aki and Wim have helped shape the DNA of this company for almost half of that period. As Artistic Director I got to know them as artists of great generosity who always wanted to do their best for their discipline, for the company and for their audience.”

From the bottom of our hearts: thank you, Aki and Wim, for your beautiful performances! We will miss you dearly and wish you the best for the future.
 

Would you like to see our Aki and Wim dance one last time? Mark your calenders for Giselle and Boléro! They will at least be dancing Giselle together on November 10th, Wim is dancing his last Boléro on the 2nd of February. Keep an eye on our website for more information on which performances they'll star in as well!