The recent turmoil in Japan caused by a tsunami and earthquake was particularly close to home for two of the dancers on the Birmingham Royal Ballet's tour as they both hail from the country.
Nao Sakuma, whose family live in Fukuoka in the south, was visiting Tokyo to promote the tour with fellow principal Chi Cao when terror struck.
Meanwhile, guest principal Miyako Yoshida, who now lives in Tokyo, was visiting Birmingham.
Nao told me how she ran out of the building and saw the earth shaking when the quake hit on March 13. And she thought the tour, which kicked off on Saturday, would be another casualty of the upheaval.
“When Chi and I left to come back to Birmingham two days after the earthquake it was so chaotic here. The convenience stores were totally empty, you couldn’t buy anything. I had never seen anything like that in Japan before.
“Lots of the theatres were closed and some companies who were coming cancelled. I didn’t think we would be able to come.
“It is two months since the earthquake. I am so happy to see that everything is back to normal in Tokyo.”
Nao’s family were untouched by the quake and tsunami – and the ensuing concerns over the stricken Fukushima nuclear power plant.
She says being asked to play the part of Aurora in Sleeping Beauty for the opening performance of the nine-date tour is very important for her.
“I have always loved Sleeping Beauty,” she says. “Once I was on stage I couldn’t stop to think about what had happened and about being here back in Japan, I just had to concentrate on performing.
“But it is important for Japan that companies like Birmingham Royal Ballet are still prepared to come here.”
Many of Nao’s family are travelling to Tokyo to see her on stage, she said.
While Nao was experiencing the earthquake first hand former BRB and Royal Ballet principal Miyako was desperately contacting her family back in Tokyo.
Miyako, whose career began with Sadler’s Wells Royal Ballet which became BRB, woke up to the alarming news.
“I will never forget that day,” she says. “I was in Birmingham for the rehearsals and I turned the television on and suddenly there it was. Fortunately I was able to get in contact with my family and everyone was all right.”
Miyako moved back to Japan on retiring from BRB last year after a UK and international career spanning more than 25 years and now freelances as a dancer and teacher.
“After I finished rehearsals in Birmingham I had to go to London and I decided to stay on an extra week because of everything that was happening.” she says.
Miyako then joined forces with other dancers and musicians to stage a benefit concert in London – raising around £12,000 for victims of the earthquake and tsunami.
“I only had about two days to organise it, but so many people gave their free time and we sold about 400 tickets.”
Miyako joins the company’s gala performance in Tokyo tonight (Tuesday), which is also aiming to raise money for the Japan Earthquake and Tsunami Relief.
“The gala is such a wonderful idea and I am really pleased to be part of it,” Miyako says. “To be back dancing with the company where I started my career makes it all the more special.
“In March, soon after the tsunami and earthquake, I danced Cinderella here and I said ‘dancing is just art, it isn’t something like food or water that Japan really needs’.
“But then when I did the performance I was so happy because I knew that something like dance can reach deep into the heart and help heal just a little bit.”