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Park Se-eun, first Korean principal dancer of Paris Ballet Theater

Park Se-eun, first Korean principal dancer of Paris Ballet Theater

Posted February. 19, 2018 07:51,   

Updated February. 19, 2018 07:51


Park Se-eun is the first Korean ballerina to serve as principal dancer (Premier Danseur) at the Paris Opera Ballet, one of the world’s top four ballet troupes. The 28-year-old will start performing Tatyana, the main character in “Onegin” at the Paris Opera Garnier Theater from Thursday.

Since long ago, Park has been picking Onegin as her favorite ballet in many interviews. The drama ballet is a tragic love story between Onegin, a flamboyant and arrogant man, and Tatyana, an innocent girl living in a rural village. The ballet is based on the novel “Yevgeny Onegin” by Alexander Pushkin, and features Peter Tchaikovsky’s lyrical music including “Nocturne” and “Four Seasons.” It was the last ballet performed by Kang Su-jin, chief of the National Ballet Theater of Korea, and Hwang Hye-min, former principal dancer of the Universal Ballet in Korea, before their retirement. The Stuttgart Ballet where Kang served as dancer earlier in her career produced Onegin and is holding license.

The Dong-A Ilbo interviewed Paris-based Park Se-eun over the phone on Tuesday last week. She is performing in five of the 21 performances scheduled in total. Her partner is Hugo Marchand, “Étoile Ballerino” or the most prestigious dancer of the Paris Opera Ballet. Park acquired the Tatyana character without audition.

“For ‘Onegin,’ they pick dancers with approval by the Stuttgart Ballet’s director,” Park said. “Artistic director Reid Anderson of the Stuttgart Ballet, whom I met at recommendation of artistic director Aurelie Dupont of the Paris Opera Ballet last year, told me that ‘You fit nicely with Tatyana in terms of behaviors, personality and just everything about you, and will have no difficulties (performing the character).’”

During dress rehearsal, Paris Ballet director, Stuttgart Ballet director and her colleague dancers commended Park, by saying that she looked so natural that they felt like they were meeting real Tatyana. Park said she had strong desire to showcase frank Tatyana character, and it may have worked. “Since it is my dream stage, I invited my parents from Korea,” she said. Her mother is scheduled to watch all five performances from the first stage to be held on Thursday.

Park was nominated as a candidate for Benois de la Danse, dubbed the “Academy awards in the dance community” in 2018. She is also set to perform Diamond, the main character in the creative ballet “Jewels” by George Balanchine, legendary choreographer of the 20th Century, at the Bolshoi Theater in Russia in June.

“It is fair to say that 100 percent of my life is filled with ballet,” Park said. “My goal is not to rise to a certain position, but to become a ballerina who always presents the best performance.”

Jeong-Eun Kim kimje@donga.com