Acclaimed dancer Susan Kikuchi passed away November 14 of natural causes. She was 74. Ms. Kikuchi's passing came 18 days after the celebration of life for her mother, Yuriko, who passed in March at 102.
Born October 4, 1948 to Yuriko and social worker Charles Kikuchi, Ms. Kikuchi was immediately immersed in the dance world by her mother, studying at the Alvin Ailey school, and with the Martha Graham company, of which her mother was a key member. Ms. Kikuchi grew up in the company, and she served as a key source of information on Graham's choreography, staging acclaimed productions throughout the country.
In 1951, her mother brought her along to rehearsals for Rodgers and Hammerstein's The King and I when she was cast by Jerome Robbins as Eliza in the "Small House of Uncle Thomas" ballet. The show, and that particular dance sequence, would remain a key part of Ms. Kikuchi's performance life; she made her Broadway debut as a child in the original Broadway production alongside her brother Lawrence, served as the dance captain and danced the role of Eliza under her mother's direction in the 1977 Broadway revival, and was dance captain, dance swing, and choreography supervisor for the 1996 Broadway revival.
In 1989, she again danced the role of Eliza for Mr. Robbins in his revue Jerome Robbins Broadway, for which she was again the dance captain. Off-Broadway, Ms. Kikuchi reconstructed Mr. Robbins' original choreography for numerous productions, participating in 15 total productions of the musical throughout her career, including the 2004 national tour, where she danced the role of Uncle Thomas.
Outside of her association with The King and I, Ms. Kikuchi was a part of the original Broadway productions of Flower Drum Song and Pacific Overtures.
Ms. Kikuchi is survived by her husband Eric, her brother Lawrence, and her daughter, Cassey Kikuchi Kivnick.