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Korean Ballerina Wins Top Dance Honor

Posted April. 26, 2006 03:17,   


Kim Ju-won (28), the principal dancer of the Korea National Ballet Company, received the best female dancer award in the 14th Benois de la Dance held in Moscow, Russia at 7:00 p.m. yesterday (local time). The Benois de la Dance award is often called “the Academy Award of the dance world.” The former awardees of the prize include the best dancers of our time, like the biggest star of the Birmingham Royal Ballet Sylvia Guillem and the main ballerina of the American Ballet Theater Julio Boca.

“I didn’t dream of winning the award. I just thought that I should feel honored only for being selected among the nominees for the award which ‘world star’ ballet dancers have received so far. I just came to do my best in the commemorative performance to show to the world that Korean ballet is good,” said Kim.

Kim, who currently is staying in Moscow, said in a telephone interview with this paper, “I was so surprised and excited to hear that I was chosen as the award winner at around 1:30 a.m. that I couldn’t sleep.”

She won by dancing the part of Medora, the main female character of Le Corsaire, performed by Korea National Ballet Company. Five dancers from the world’s greatest ballet companies were nominated for the Benois de la Dance award, including Kim, and four others from Paris Opera Ballet, American Ballet Theater and Bolshoi Theater.

“I was not just overjoyed with the news of my winning the award personally. Rather, I was proud because I feel that Korean ballet has grown so much that now it is gaining global recognition,” said Kim. “In my view, I got a great reception because I acted Medora delicately with lyricism and feeling.”

Kang Su-jin (the principal dancer of the Stuttgart Ballet) is the only Korean dancer excluding Kim who has won a Benois de la Dance award. Kang got the best dancer award for her part in the Lady of the Camellias of Germany’s Stuttgart Ballet in 1999. Kim Ju-won is the first Korean dancer based in Korea who has won the award with the work of a domestic ballet company, which makes Kim’s win an even more brilliant accomplishment for Korean ballet.

Kim said, “I debuted in Le Corsaire in 1998 when I danced in the Korea National Ballet. Back then, I danced on the stage only once due to my injury. I started to dance for Le Corsaire again last year, for the first time in seven years, and the work won me this prize.”

Dancer Kim Hyun-woong of the Korea National Ballet and Ahn Seong-su, a modern dancer, were also nominated for the best male dancer and choreography, respectively. They did not win prizes, however.

Kim Ju-won performed the Adagio part of Le Corsaire in the award ceremony at the Bolshoi Theater in Moscow yesterday along with Kim Hyun-woong. She returns home on April 27.

Sue-Jean Kang sjkang@donga.com