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(Yonhap Interview) Two outstanding dancers preach ballet's beauty and fun

All News 11:27 July 19, 2016

By Woo Jae-yeon, Kwon Soo-Hyun

SEOUL, July 19 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's two ballet dancers Seo Hee and Jun Joon-hyuk have a lot in common despite their physical distance and age difference.

Seo, 29, is a principal dancer at the American Ballet Theater (ABT) and Jun, 17, is attending the Royal Ballet school in Britain.

The two left Korea to study overseas while they both were attending Sunhwa Arts School in Seoul and both received the Grand Prize at the Youth America Grand Prix (YAGP), an annual student ballet competition.

In 2003, Seo became the first Korean who got the prize in the senior category (15-19). Since then, two Korean dancers, Kim Ki-min and Jun Joon-hyuk, have accomplished the same feat, in 2012 and 2016, respectively.

"Jun's performance in the finals was amazing. I was happy to see another Korean dancer receiving the prize, but I was more glad to discover that he is such a well-educated dancer," Seo said in an interview with Yonhap News Agency on Monday.

"In our school, Sunhwa, a picture of Seo is hung on the wall. Look at her picture, I dreamed about dancing on a bigger stage. Since she paved the way, I was able to walk on that road more comfortably," Jun said.

This summer, the two will join in some meaningful events.

Seo is to open YAGP Korea, the competition's local preliminary which will take place in the country for the first time for aspiring Korean dancers. Separately, Jun will perform at the Korea World Dance Stars Festival 2016.

"I always wanted to return what I've received to Korean junior dancers. Now my dream came true," Seo said.

Jun also said "I was curious why a local preliminary wasn't taking place in Korea even though a lot of Korean dancers advance into the competition round. I think it is very meaningful that more Korean students would be able to get a chance to try out their capability."

The conversation between the trail-blazer Seo and the successor Jun naturally led to the present and future of ballet dancers.

Jun said "I was offered to enter the ABT but gently declined it since I have still some time before graduation. I am open to various options in Europe."

"I agree. There are many opportunities, so you don't need to decide now which path you take. Now is a very important moment for a dancer. You need to ask a lot of questions to yourself on what you want," Seo advised.

One of the principal ballerinas at the ABT, Seo sets an example for Jun.

She has kept an hectic schedule of performing lead roles in many shows as other star dancers have all retired from the theater.

"I realized once again how great they (the retired dancers) were. I used to learn a lot from their rehearsals and now I, as the face of the theater, am in a position to prove, which is a bit scary," Seo said, adding "But I like the fact that the theater needs me."

They also shared with each other their love-and-hate feelings toward ballet. They both said there were so many times when they wanted to quit once and for all, but eventually came back to it again.

"The more I practice ballet, the more I feel deeply moved. Sometimes it feels like some kind of a sacred religion," Seo said.

She continued; "I feel obliged not to disgrace the beautiful art. I hope my audience will remember me as a dancer who made them experience the beauty of it."

Saying that he is enjoying ballet so much, Jun said "I've recently realized that I am all smiles when I practice it."

"I don't wish to become a star dancer. I want to become a dancer who has fans satisfied with my performance, and whom people feel comfortable to be around."


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