Ballerina Seo Hee Rises to Principal Dancer at American Ballet Theater

      July 11, 2012 07:41

      Korean ballerina Seo Hee has become a principal dancer at the prestigious American Ballet Theater. Her appointment marks the first time that a Korean dancer has been promoted to the position within the ABT, which is considered one of the world's three leading ballet companies.

      Seo was informed of the news just before she gave an interview to the Chosun Ilbo at the ballet company's headquarters in New York on Friday about her upcoming performance of "Giselle" in Korea.

      "It was totally unexpected. Artistic Director Kevin McKenzie called me [to reveal the news] and I thought it was about scheduling. I'm lost for words right now," she said.

      The ABT became America's national ballet company in 2006 after receiving approval from the U.S. Congress. It ranks alongside the Ballet of the National Paris Opera and the Royal Ballet of London in terms of global prestige.

      Seo joined in 2005, became a soloist in August 2010 and a principal dancer two years later. At present, there are 91 dancers at the ABT, including 11 female and 10 male principal dancers.

      Seo was born with a ballerina's physique -- long arms, legs and neck -- and showed extraordinary enthusiasm for the vocation from an early age. But it also takes hard work, discipline and a tough skin to survive in the world of professional dancing, she said, adding that phone calls to her mom help her cope after an arduous day in the studio.

      "I'm always being judged by someone," Seo said. "I live on 75th street, near ABT's studio on 65th. A lot of dancers live there, and every time I go to the supermarket, I always run into someone who says he or she has seen or enjoyed my performance."

      Seo, who will play the main role in the upcoming tour of "Giselle" in Korea, said she wants to dedicate the performance to her father. "My father [a high school teacher] was never able to come to New York to watch a performance by the ABT because of his job," Seo said. "This time, I want to present him with the best performance of 'Giselle.'"

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