September 14, 2020 10:37
Ahn Joo-won has been named a principal dancer at the prestigious American Ballet Theater.
Ahn is the first Korean male ballet dancer to become a principal at the ABT, which is regarded as one of the world's best ballet companies along with Russia's Mariinsky and Bolshoi, the Royal Ballet in the U.K. and the Paris Opera Ballet in France.
Compatriot ballerina Seo Hee became a principal at the ABT in 2012.
Born in Wonju, Gangwon Province in 1993, Ahn took up ballet in the first year of middle school because his aunt, who ran a ballet school, said it would make him taller.
He studied at Sunhwa Arts High School and then the Korea National University of Arts in Seoul. While in his second year at KNUA, aged 19, he won the gold medal at the Youth America Grand Prix in New York in 2013, which opened the door for him to join the ABT.
He started as an apprentice in January 2014 and joined the corps de ballet in June 2014. He was promoted to a soloist in September 2019 and to a principal dancer just a year later.
Ahn, who has been back in Korea since April due to the outbreak of COVID-19, said, "I want to be a dancer whose name pops up first when people talk about ballet."
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