There is a Korean saying that you should leave when you receive the greatest cheer.
Ryu Ji-yeon, the only Korean ballerina to have joined Russia’s 300-year-old Mariinsky Ballet Company in 1997, is going to do just that.
After being picked as the soloist to perform the “Dying Swan” in the ballet company’s upcoming performance in Korea, Ryu said she will leave Mariinsky and 20 years of life in Russia for good after the dance.
“Even before I entered the Vaganova Academy of Russian Ballet at the age of 14 in 1991, I have always dreamed about joining the Mariinsky Ballet Company,” Ryu said in an e-mail interview from St. Petersburg in Russia.
“In retrospect, I think my dream has come true. Now I want to spend time with my family,” she said.
The “Dying Swan,” a short three-minute ballet choreographed by Mikhail Fokine for ballerina Anna Pavlova, was first staged in 1905 in St. Petersburg, Russia. The solo dance, considered one of the most prestigious roles for a ballerina, has been given to legendary Russian ballerinas including Maya Plisetskaya.
“Although it is a very short piece, the choreography requires highly advanced techniques. From head to toe, I will do my best to express the last moments of a dying swan,” the 34-year-old said.
Celebrating the 20th anniversary of diplomatic ties between Russia and Korea, the Mariinsky Ballet Company is to present “Giselle,” “Swan Lake” and a ballet gala at the Goyang Aram Nori Arts Center’s Aram Theater from Nov. 9 to Nov. 14.
Ryu’s solo is to be staged during a ballet gala on the last day.
“Giselle” and “Swan Lake,” popular classical ballet works, are staged by numerous ballet companies but Mariinsky’s performance will be a rare chance for Korean fans to see the Mariinsky’s uniquely delicate and graceful group dance, Ryu said.
A group dance of “Giselle” by the Mariinsky Ballet Company Ballerina Ryu Ji-yeon, a principal character artist of the Mariinsky Ballet Company. (Goyang Aram Nuri Arts Center)
“I’ve always been happy and proud of the ballet company whenever ballet fans from different countries visit the Mariinsky Theater to see us,” she added.
Although based in St. Petersburg, Ryu has been giving special lectures to Yewon School, an arts school and students in Seoul during summer holidays for the past 11 years.
Finding it pleasant and enjoyable to spend time with young ballerinas, Ryu will soon look for ways to help students learn what she has learned from her 15-year ballet experience, she said.
“I don’t have a specific plan yet but I hope that I could be of help to anyone in need in Korea,” she said.
The Mariinsky Ballet Company’s “Giselle” will be staged at the Goyang on Nov. 9 and Nov. 10 at 7:30 p.m., “Swan Lake” on Nov. 12 and Nov. 13 at 7:30 p.m. and 7 p.m., respectively, and a ballet gala on Nov. 14 at 4 p.m. Other programs for the gala include “Grand Pas from Paquita,” “Scotch Symphony” and “In the night.” Tickets range from 30,000 won to 250,000 won. For reservations, call (02) 1577-7766.
By Kim Yoon-mi (firstname.lastname@example.org)