Hi, I’m Yuuki. I’m a dancer, stage combat performer, yogi, and Pilates practitioner based in Los Angeles.
Thank you so much for reading my story so far and sharing your thoughts. Your love and support is so appreciated.
I was born and raised in Southern California after my parents immigrated to the United States from Japan.
I’ve loved to move ever since I can remember. My mother took me to my first recreational dance class when I was three, and my father, who was a stunt coordinator, taught me sword and hand-to-hand Japanese stage combat and how to be my own kind of warrior. Due to English being my second language, movement was always my outlet; it allowed me to communicate in ways that spoken language never could.
At the age of twelve, I met my current teacher, Pamela Debiase, who continues to inspire my passion for movement and performing arts. I remember how much I looked forward to taking her classes and participating in her community theatre performances. If it weren’t for Pamela, I know I wouldn’t be where I am today.
Pamela and I briefly lost touch after I entered high school. I was starting to put my focus on my education. I attended UCLA, where I studied English in the hopes of becoming a writer and researched at the Language and Cognitive Development Lab to learn more about bilingualism and how it affects our development. In my second year of college, I auditioned to perform as a character dancer at Disneyland in Fantasmic!, and booked the job. I was a stressed and overworked college student, going to school in the morning in LA and performing in the evenings in Anaheim. There were days when I had an overnight rehearsal until 7am in the morning, only to return to school by 8am an hour later for class! But I loved the experience so much and kept going. I have never looked back.
During my senior year of college, my professor assigned a project in which we had to interview and write about someone with an immigration experience to share. I decided to reach out to Pamela, hoping to interview her for my final college project. She remembered me and responded yes, and we reunited! She later gave me a job at Westwood Pilates, where I started to take classes and work part-time. Pamela has taught me that movement can be a beautiful language itself; it can speak emotion, tell a story, or communicate a point of view.
After college, I continued to dance at Disney, but dancing in heavy costumes gave me a sprained back and a broken rib. Disney put me on “transitional” work, where I shadowed different positions backstage while I healed from my broken rib. I also became a training assistant for Disney’s new-hire orientations. I had the opportunity to learn about and teach numerous groups of new Cast Members about Disney philosophy, history, and language. It was during this time that I had the honor to learn what it means to lead, and acquired a sense of courage and confidence in pursuing what I felt most passionate about.
To help with healing, many of my friends suggested that I start taking yoga classes in addition to the Pilates classes that I was taking at Pamela’s studio. I had dabbled in a few yoga classes during my college years, but I had never stepped foot into a yoga studio before. I took my first class at Yoga Salt with Mary Beth LaRue; it was the most physically challenging experience I had yet encountered. At the time, I could not lift myself up from a full push-up, my back was extremely tight, and I struggled throughout the entire class.
Despite the challenges yoga and Pilates presented, creating a consistent practice has helped with my body’s healing and changed my life. I fell in love with how yoga and Pilates teaches one to value self-love, trust one’s journey, and rise up against fear. I completed my first yoga teacher training in 2016 with Tamal Dodge. Since completing my training, I have been featured in Yoga Journal, mindbodygreen and Funky Feminist and worked as an assistant to my one of my favorite yoga instructors and inspirations, Liz Arch.
In 2017, I auditioned for Disney Cruise Line, and I booked the job! I left the United States in January of 2018 to work on contract as a performer on the Disney Dream. However, I unfortunately experienced a pinched nerve while dancing. I returned to my home in Los Angeles and since returning, I have continued to study and share my passion for movement and its ability to heal both body and mind. I am currently working under the mentorship of my teachers Pamela Debiase and Daniela Escobar at Westwood Pilates, where I currently teach and work with clients of all movement backgrounds and levels.
My highest hope is to continue to inspire others just as much as my teachers, family, and friends have inspired me.