January 26, 2013 08:54
Kang Sue-jin, principal dancer for Germany's Stuttgart Ballet, visited Korea this week in time for the release of her autobiography.
In an interview with the Chosun Ilbo at a hotel in Seoul on Monday, she said, "As usual, I woke up at 3 o'clock this morning, and stretched and did other exercises for two hours. I've started my day with the same routine for the past three decades," she said. If she had been in Germany, she would have left home at 9:50 a.m. and come back at 11 p.m. after wrapping up the day's training or performances.
"I wrote in the book that my only rival is myself," she said. “People ask me to explain the secret to success. But I don't have anything like that. In fact, it would appear I lead a boring life, full of routines. I don't believe in delaying things until tomorrow. After performing the same daily routine, if I feel that I’m a little bit better than I was the day before, I'm satisfied."
She took up ballet in 1980 and was admitted to the Monte-Carlo Ballet in Monaco two years later. She rose to fame in 1985 when she became the first Asian to win the Prix de Lausanne competition in Switzerland. Now she is in her mid-40s, an age when most ballerinas have long-since retired, but she remains in peak physical condition.
Kang took a year off in 1999 when she discovered she had fractured one of her shins some time earlier without realizing it; and like the old saying goes, absence made the heart grow fonder.
"People begin to feel unhappy as soon as they become worried about what they can't do or have anymore," she said, adding that the same was true for her.
Kang is the oldest active ballerina still enjoying worldwide fame. Asked about her plans to retire, she said she never thinks about it. "I'll give it up immediately when I feel I no longer possess the energy to perform satisfactorily on the stage," she added.
If she doesn't have a recipe for success, does she have one for happiness?
"Well, having a comfortable sleep, maybe?" she joked. "Don't do bad things to others and be honest with yourself, that's all."
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