(February 2, 1920- )
Born in San Jose, California
Birth name is Yuriko Amemiya (later Yuriko Kikuchi)
Prominent member of the Martha Graham Dance Company
Danced in Martha Graham Company productions of 'Clymenestra,' 'Appalachian Spring,' 'Cave of the Heart,' and 'Dark Meadow'
Performed in Broadway productions of 'The King and I' (1951-54) and 'Flower Drum Song' (1958-60)
Best known for the elaborate 'Small House of Uncle Thomas' dance number in 'The King and I,' in which she played the part of Eliza the slave girl (1956)
Also featured in the film presentations 'A Dancer's World' (1957) and 'Yuriko: Creation of a Dance' (1960)
Why she might be annoying
She went by a pretentious 'single name' on stage.
Actually, she often went by the stage name 'Yuriko I' to distinguish herself from another Martha Graham Company dancer by the same name -- Yuriko Kimura (or 'Yuriko II').
She claimed that she eventually had to situate the phone on her husband's side of the bed because Martha Graham kept calling the house at night while drunk (apparently, Graham was jealous that Yuriko had started a family and had children).
Jerome Robbins allegedly chased her around the Fox Studio lot for an hour and a half to give her 'the urgency' needed for the escape portion the 'Small House' ballet.
She hesitated to accept an offer to direct a Broadway revival of 'The King,' when Yul Brynner offered it to her when they were touring summer stock in Florida, saying: 'I said I've never directed this before, and he said you can do it. I said, Yul, will you give me a couple days to think about it? He said, no this is King's order.'
Why she might not be annoying
She danced for the Tokyo-based Konami Ishii Dance Company from the ages of ten to seventeen.
She was American-born but her mother had sent her to Japan to avoid an Influenza Epidemic in the late 1920s.
She was interred during World War II along with her family at the Gila River Relocation Center, where she taught dance classes.
She was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship in choreography (1961).
She sustained days-long headaches from the heavy Siamese headdresses she, Rita Moreno, and the other ballet dancers wore for 'The King and I.'
She formed her own modern dance company in 1967, which remained active until 1973.
She directed the London Palladium's production of 'The King and I,' again with Yul Brynner, and Virginia McKenna and Joan Bennett, in 1979.
She received the prestigious New York Dance award, the Bessie, in 1991.
She founded and - for a period - directed the Martha Graham Dance Ensemble. She would continue to have active involvement as an on-call instructor and coach.
She was honored with the Martha Hill Dance Fund Lifetime Achievement Award, in 2012.
Martha Graham, whom she worked with for 25 years, gifted her with a jade pendant of two adjoining plums (she has called it one of her most cherished possessions).
She later said of Graham: 'All of her work came from her center being. That's why I referred to her dances as children. She birthed them.'
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