Kang Sue-jin reappointed Korean National Ballet artistic director for unprecedented fourth termBy Hwang Dong-hee
Published : April 6, 2023 - 11:19
Famed ballerina Kang Sue-jin has been reappointed artistic director of the Korean National Ballet for the fourth consecutive term.
“I’ve got a lot on my shoulders,” said Kang at a press conference held at the Seoul Arts Center, Seocho-gu, on Wednesday.
“I have put in my best efforts so far, but I will continue to work with the dancers, members and staff to make the Korean National Ballet develop and soar in the international scene.”
Kang joined the Stuttgart Ballet in Germany in 1986 and was appointed principal dancer in 1997. In 2016, she retired as a dancer with a performance of “Onegin” with the Stuttgart Ballet.
Kang will be working as the artistic director for the next three years, after being first appointed to the post in 2014, and reappointed in 2017 and 2020. This is the first time that a head of a national arts organization is serving a fourth consecutive term.
Initially, Kang expressed her intention to step down from the position and return to Germany at the end of her term, but she changed her mind at the last minute.
“I was indeed very tired (when the reappointment issue came out) … but I have a lot of affection for the ballet company. I love my dancers and (company) members, and I have received a lot of energy from them.”
She said she never dreamed of working as a cultural administrator for such a long time. But she emphasized, “I see this position as someone who pushes from behind, not just leading at the front.”
She also expressed some regrets over the rushed appointment process, referring to the overseas ballet troupes’ cases where the next artistic director is appointed years in advance.
“It is true that the current appointment system does not offer enough time to prepare for a smooth transfer. We are rushing to prepare for the following year's programs. I think if (the appointment) is made in advance, we could have more room to spare.”
Meanwhile, the KNB announced its plan for the coming years on the same day.
Kang said she will promote a tour of European countries and North America with the KNB’s repertoire, such as “Le Corsaire” (The Pirates).
The KNB’s “Le Corsaire” is invited to perform at the 2023 International May Festival in Wiesbaden, Germany, on May 11-12. Premiered in 2020, the piece is choreographed by a KNB soloist dancer Song Jung-bin.
“Having our own repertoire is important and the invitation (from Germany) shows that the direction the KNB wanted to go was not wrong. They wanted a classical piece that a universal audience could relate to and we had the exact piece -- ‘Le Corsaire,’” said Kang.
The KNB also hopes to secure the performance rights to world-renowned ballet choreographer John Neumeier. The artistic director at the Hamburg Ballet has created “Fourth” for Britain’s Royal Ballet and “Magnificat” and “Sylvia” for the Paris Opera Ballet.
“A ballet company in the 21st century must secure a variety of repertoires from classical to neo-classical and modern ballet," Kang said.
Neumeier is scheduled to visit the national ballet company in August.
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