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Yuriko, Keeper of Martha Graham’s Flame, Is Dead at 102

During World War II, she, along with many others of Japanese ancestry, was detained in a federal internment camp. While at the Gila River Relocation Camp on the Pima Indian reservation in the Arizona desert, she obtained permission to run a dance school. When she was released in 1943, Clara Clayman, a relief counselor, advised her to go to New York City to study modern dance.

Yuriko agreed, and when she arrived in New York she knocked on Ms. Graham’s studio door. When Ms. Graham asked where she came from, according to her biographer, and she replied, “My name is Yuriko and I came from an Arizona concentration camp, where I spent almost 18 months.”

While in New York, Yuriko met Charles Kikuchi, who had been interned in a different relocation camp and later wrote an account of his life there, “The Kikuchi Diary: Chronicle From an American Concentration Camp,” which was published in 1973. They married in 1946.

Mr. Kikuchi, who became a psychiatric social worker, died in 1988. In addition to her daughter, Yuriko is survived by her son, Lawrence Kikuchi, and three grandchildren.

Ms. Clayman found Yuriko a job as a seamstress adjusting clothes for women who shopped at Jay Thorpe, an elegant department store in Manhattan. She trained with Jane Dudley and Sophie Maslow, two veteran Graham dancers. The Graham dance vocabulary was difficult to master, but by 1944 Yuriko had become a regular member of the Graham company. She danced in the premiere of “Appalachian Spring,” a Graham signature piece set to Aaron Copland’s score.

In 2000, when Yuriko restaged “Appalachian Spring” for the Joffrey Ballet, she softened the tone by emphasizing new details about the young frontier couple onstage. The new bride and her husband were more tenderly in love, with blown kisses and caresses. She also downplayed the bride’s usually agitated solo. Visibly tempering the bride’s qualms about the future, Yuriko defined the “sense of place” that Ms. Graham said she had sought to convey.

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