My Top 5: Houston Ballet Soloist Nao Kusuzaki


Each Monday we check in with an enterprising Houstonian to learn her most favorite things to do in Houston. This week we connected with Nao Kusuzaki, soloist with Houston Ballet and currently performing in Houston Ballet’s 2013 production of The Nutcracker.

My Top 5 Things to Do in Houston

by Nao Kusuzaki

  1. Culture, Arts and Film in Houston – While the Downtown performing arts scene is always on my top of the list, there are two Houston spots trending right now: First, the Asia Society Texas Center is a hidden gem. a Yoshio Taniguchi-designed structure on its own is a beauty, and it offers many events that satisfies my curious and artful mind. Second is Sundance Cinema downtown. I love to watch films. And this is my “go to” for a full cinema experience. A great selection of major or minor films, foreign or eclectic ones, comfortable seating of your choosing, a glass of wine, and good ambience. I’m sold!
  2. VAULT/Gyrotonic Houston – This is Amy Ell’s super cool, one-of-a-kind studio. Its classes in aerial arts, Gyrotonic, Pilates, and other workshops always provide a stimulating, energizing, seriously fun workout. On days off, this is my playground.
  3. Happy Hour – After an intense day of rehearsals, the evening begins by cooking Japanese comfort food, my “happy hour.” Daido Japanese Market has all of the ingredients for a good curry, kakuni or noodles. The rest is fulfilled at the neighborhood Revival Market. Their local produce, charcuterie, and the tasty treats by Fluff Bake Bar complete the meal.
  4. Tre Spa – I look forward to hair appointments at Tre Spa. The ambiance is always inviting, every one of the staff is warm and welcoming, and the service is first class without the attitude. I’ve found it!
  5. Dining out in Houston – If I could devote a week to going out to eat, this would be Day 1: Stout Americano at Catalina Coffee, lunch at Kata Robata for their Miso marinated black cod or Chirashi. Dinner at Underbelly, for the chef’s ever-changing creations. Caramel popcorn pot de creme, fried pretzel, vanilla ice cream for dessert are not to be missed.

About Nao Kusuzaki

Born in born in Ehime, Japan, Nao Kusuzaki was raised in Japan, Washington D.C., and Boston. She joined Houston Ballet in 2004, where she has performed numerous principal and featured roles in shows including Stanton Welch’s TuTuFalling, and Brigade, as well as The Nutcracker, Madame Butterfly, La Bayadère, Coppelia (pictured above) and Swan Lake. Nao also told us that one of her favorite “jewels of Houston” was her own professional home, Houston Ballet at Wortham Theater. “On a rare occasion of a show off, I take the opportunity to watch and cheer my colleagues on from the audience,” she said. “It certainly is entertaining, enlightening, and you may fall in love with ballet all over again.”

Photo courtesy of Houston Ballet / Photo credit: Jim Caldwell

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