Ballet company based in Tokyo which grew out of the city's first classical ballet school, the Tokyo Ballet Gakko, founded by Koichi Hayashi in 1960 and based on the Soviet model. When the company first performed it was known as the Tchaikovsky Memorial Ballet. In 1964, after going bankrupt, the school and company were reorganized by the impresario Tadatsugu Sasaki, who greatly expanded their activities. The company made its first visit to Western Europe in 1970, and performed an extensive European tour five years later, the first Japanese ballet company to do so. Alongside its repertoire of standard ballet classics, the company has acquired modern works by Western choreographers, including Petit, Kylián, Neumeier, and Béjart, who for several years was artistic adviser to the company. Russian and European stars have frequently appeared as guest artists, including Guillem who in 2008 danced a Béjart tribute programme with Tokyo Ballet dancers. The company continues to tour internationally, although in its home city it is under competition from the New National Theatre Ballet founded in 1997.