중앙데일리

Ballerina Kim overcomes loss of mom, injury

Mar 19,2007
Ballerina Kim Ji-young will return to Korea in July. She became a first soloist in the Dutch National Ballet.
When ballerina Kim Ji-young, 29, was told that she had become a first soloist for the Dutch National Ballet, she said she thought first of her mother.
“Of course, it is my mother. If she were alive, she would have been happiest,” Ms. Kim said in a trembling voice after pausing for several seconds.
The 40-year-old Dutch National Ballet has 90 ballerinas and is considered one of the most prestigious ballet companies in Europe. Ms. Kim is the second Korean to rise to the first soloist position in a well-known ballet company. She follows Kang Su-jin, 39, who was appointed a first in the Stuttgart Ballet.
“Mother” is the most heartbreaking word to Ms. Kim. In 1992 Ms. Kim graduated from Yewon School and went to Russia to learn advanced ballet at the Vaganova Ballet Academy. As a teenager, she continued to study in the foreign land, and four years later, in June of 1996, she staged her graduate work. Her mother came to Russia to see the graduate work of her youngest child.
Though she was nervous because her family was watching, the performance by Ms. Kim generated strong applause. After the show, however, her mother was not on hand to congratulate her, nor were her father and sister.
The news that came next shocked Ms. Kim. Her mother had collapsed during her performance and was sent to a hospital. She hurried to the hospital, but her mother had already passed away.
“I heard that when I appeared on the stage, she fell forward. It was a heart attack. My mother had no chronic ailments and used to be very healthy. She must have worried so much about me living in a foreign country,” Ms. Kim said.
Ms. Kim had originally planned to pursue her career in Russia, but she came back to Korea instead because of the shock and self-reproach from her mother’s death.
Soon, she joined the Korean National Ballet as the youngest ballerina and rivaled ballerina Kim Joo-won, becoming a star in her own right.
In 2002, she left Korea and entered the Dutch National Ballet. Unlike most ballerinas who begin their career as backstage dancers, her initial starting point was the third grade, which is called Grand Sujets. After two months, however, she injured her ankle and had to recuperate for two years.
“I went through surgery. I wanted to give up when I was in the middle of hard rehabilitation,” Ms. Kim said. “Whenever I was feeling that way, my mother appeared in my dream. I guess she wanted to see my performance from heaven.”
Ms. Kim’s elder sister, Kim Hyun-su, cried because she saw her younger sister’s diary. Ms. Kim wrote in her diary over and over, “Mom, I’ll do my best.” “It was really touching,” Kim Hyun-su said.
Ji-young Kim is coming back to Korea in July. “I am going to visit my mother’s grave first. It’s been 11 years already. I became a first soloist and my mother would feel at ease,” she said.


By Choi Min-woo JoongAng Ilbo [jbiz91@joongang.co.kr]



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