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(Yonhap Interview) First Asian soloist with Paris Opera enjoys renaissance as choreographer back in Korea

All Headlines 10:31 May 29, 2018

SEOUL, May 29 (Yonhap) -- Having made Korean ballet history with his sensational debut as the first Asian ballet soloist with the Paris Opera in the 2000s, Kim Yong-geol is now enjoying his second heyday as a celebrated choreographer back in his home country.

This year, his Kim Yong-geol Dance Theater joins the annual 8th Ballet Festival Korea set for May 31 to June 24 as the only troupe that has performed in all of the previous seven festivals. Kim will stage his own dance work, "The Type B," at this year's festival as an "invited" choreographer.

It marks his successful ballet career shift after he made his name, becoming the first Asian ballerino to perform as a soloist with the Paris Opera more than a decade ago.

This photo shows ballerino-turned-choreographer Kim Yong-geol. (Yonhap)

"I was instinctively drawn to choreograph as I delved deeply into things that inspire me," the 45-year-old said in a recent interview with Yonhap News Agency.

He recalled his years at the top ballet company in Paris as the source of his motivation and inspiration.

"While in the Paris Opera, I saw very closely world-known choreographers like William Forsythe, Jiri Kylian and Pina Bausch and was immensely shocked by them. Those experiences have been of great help for me," Kim said, adding that he is still "learning."

Kim also drew on his philosophy of dance creation. "My principle is that audiences should not be given empty moments," he said.

"I believe that you don't even need to stage a performance unless you can either win audiences' empathy or a change of their emotions."

Referring to his latest dance piece, Kim said "The Type B" is an onstage embodiment of his "unmasked self." The title comes from Kim's blood type B.

"It's a staging of things that I have been thinking, things that people would think strange to be staged and people's images and prejudices of me," he said. "It will be like getting stripped off in front of people, but nobody could criticize me, because, after all, anyone looks the same when naked."

The former star ballerino also said life on stage as well as a choreographer has given him "great joy."

"Each has its own pleasure. Ballet indeed is the everything of my life."

This photo provided by Seoul Arts Center shows an image of Kim Yong-geol's ballet piece "The Type B" to be staged during the 8th Ballet Festival Korea. (Yonhap)


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