November 12, 2013 > A memorial service to celebrate Miss Yoko's life will be held Thursday, November 14, 2013 at 7 p.m. at The Smith Center at Ohlone College, 43600 Mission Boulevard, Fremont. All are welcome to take part in a special night dedicated to Miss Yoko's memory.
A memorial service to celebrate Miss Yoko's life will be held Thursday, November 14, 2013 at 7 p.m. at The Smith Center at Ohlone College, 43600 Mission Boulevard, Fremont. All are welcome to take part in a special night dedicated to Miss Yoko's memory.
Yoko Young; An eternal dancer
Recently, several prominent Tri-City citizens have passed away, taking with them an important weave in the tapestry of our community. Fortunately, they leave a legacy through their works and effect on friends, family and others they touched in life. Fremont resident and dance icon Yoko Young died October 29, 2013, but her spirit will continue to resonate throughout the community as an important and dynamic mosaic of interests and life experiences.
Born in Tokyo, Japan, Yoko fell in love with dancing at age four when she saw the ballet Petrouchka. Beginning with Fujima (traditional Japanese dancing), she went on to study classical ballet under Sakiko Hirose of the Tokyo Ballet, Madame Messers of the Bolshoi Ballet, Roy Tobias of the New York City Ballet and jazz under the tutelage of Rod Alexander. Yoko was Prima Ballerina and soloist for the Hirose Ballet Company and Tokyo Ballet Theatre in such standards as "Swan Lake," "Sleeping Beauty" and "Don Quixote," and danced "Carmen" with the Opera national de Paris in France.
Yoko was on Japanese TV as a featured dancer and appeared in movies, television series and commercials in the United States. As a member of the Screen Actors Guild, she was in the movie M.A.S.H., The Towering Inferno, Streets of San Francisco, Mission Impossible, plus Dr. Pepper, VISA, and Miss Clairol commercials to name a few. She was featured as a fashion model in shows and magazines, including Women's Day.
An accomplished choreographer, Yoko choreographed musicals such as "Once Upon a Mattress," "Little Mary Sunshine," "Annie," "The Wizard of Oz" and "Peter Pan" and traveled to Japan with some of them. A member and chair of the Sister City Commission of Fremont, Yoko escorted dancers to represent Fremont at celebrations in Fukaya, Japan. In 1993, Yoko was appointed by the Governor of Saitama Prefecture, Japan, to be Cultural Ambassador to the World, representing 92 cities and over 6.5 million people.
Yoko established her own studio in 1995 and earned the title "The Best Studio in the West" her first year. Her superb choreography earned numerous awards, including the Diamond Award for best choreography from American Dance Competition, Kids Artistic Revue's Choreographer of the Year awards every year since 2000, and Teacher of the Year in 2006, 2007 and 2008. Yoko trained 50 of her students to perform with professional Russian dancers in the Moscow Ballet's production of "Nutcracker."
In 2002 Yoko was featured as the cover story for the nationally syndicated magazine Dance Teacher, and had the only studio in California to be selected as one of the Top 50 Studios in the Nation by Dance Spirit magazine. Her studio also made the cover of Time for Kids in 2003. In 2005 she was asked to choreograph the Dallas Cowboys' halftime show at Texas Stadium featuring singer Sheryl Crow. Eight students from her studio were featured in the show, which was televised by CBS on Thanksgiving Day and seen by 60 million people.
YokoÕs greatest gift was her passion for dance as a teacher, choreographer and dedication, above all, to her students. A tough and exacting mentor, Yoko displayed unwavering devotion to her craft, guiding her protˇgˇs to great accomplishments, instilling self-confidence.
Yoko follows her husband of 45 years, Dr. William J. Young, who died in April 2013; she is survived by her son, Dr. Rei Young, daughter-in-law, Lisa Young and grandchildren, Tyler and Zachary.