Director & Founder Ayako School of Ballet
Artistic Director Peninsula Youth Ballet
Originally from Japan, Ayako was a principal dancer with the Tokyo City Ballet Company and the Matsuyama Ballet Company. She has studied with Sulamith Messerer, Aleksei Varlamov and Mikiko Matsuyama. Ayako has performed leading roles in Swan Lake, Cinderella, Nutcracker, Balanchine’s Serenade and many other works. Ayako has been teaching in the United States since 1976, and was ballet mistress and choreographed with Peninsula Youth Ballet before becoming Artistic Director in the fall of 1986. Ayako has choreographed full length Ballet Productions such as Giselle, Sleeping Beauty, Don Quixote, The Little Mermaid, The Little Humpback Horse, Paquita Coppelia and The Nutcracker.
Mariko “Mari” Takahashi is a proud alumna of Ayako School of Ballet. She is currently a professional free-lance performing artist, choreographer and dance instructor. Having been contracted as a principal dancer with companies such as the Oakland Ballet (’05-’09), Peninsula Ballet Theatre (’05-’08), Menlowe Ballet (’11-current) and Moving Arts Dance (’08-current), Mari has toured, performed and taught internationally and throughout the United States. She has also performed with Diablo Ballet, Sierra Nevada Ballet and represented Smuin Ballet at student outreach programs throughout the Bay Area. Industrial credits include Siegfried & Roy’s “The Voice of Magic”, Fox TV’s “So You Think You Can Dance”, The Crucible’s “Dracul” and shows for E*Trade, RSA, and AAD. Mari has worked with choreographers such as Nikolai & Viktor Kabaniaev, Robert Sund, Donald McKayle and Scott Rink. Repertoire includes Giselle (Giselle), Don Quixote (Kitri), The Nutcracker (Sugar Plum Fairy), Sleeping Beauty (Aurora), and works by Val Caniparoli, Vaslav Nijinsky and Eugene Loring, amongst others. Mari is also a signed model with CITY Model Management and well-recognized YouTube personality. She is a graduate of Saint Mary’s College with a BFA in Performing Arts and Liberal Studies. When Mari is not pursuing dance and other artistic endeavors, she spends her time rock climbing, traveling and summitting 20,000 ft. mountain peaks around the world!