In 1982 the Dance Committee of the International Theatre Institute founded International Dance Day to be celebrated every year on 29 April, the birthday of Jean-Georges Noverre (1727-1810), choreographer and creator of modern ballet. Every year a message from an outstanding dance artist is circulated throughout the world, and this year it marks the beginning of Australian Dance Week to be celebrated throughout Australia.
This year’s IDD Message is by South Korean dancer KANG Sue-jin.
The Covid-19 catastrophe has stopped life as we so freely knew it and being amidst this tragedy makes us rethink the meaning of ‘dance’ and ‘dancers’.
In the distant past, dance was a primal means of expression and communication through gestures, becoming performance art that moved the soul and inspired the audience.
It is a momentary art that is difficult to restore to its original form once completed because it’s created with the entire body and soul. Dance is made of ephemeral moments, which destines dancers to be on the move forever. Yet, Covid-19 has restricted and even blocked the art of dance in its original form.
Even though the situation is improving, dance performances are still subject to many restrictions. This makes us cherish the precious memories of times when dance and dancers sparkled like jewels, conveying human anguish and anxiety, will and hope for life, and illuminated the world.
Similarly, it is important to recall that during the aftershocks of the Black Death in Medieval Europe, the ballet Giselle – depicting love beyond death – was performed at the Paris Opera on 28 June 1841 and received an explosive response.
Since then, Giselle has been performed all over Europe and around the world to comfort and encourage the souls of mankind ravaged by the pandemic. It is also my understanding that this was first demonstrated in that very performance of Giselle, as the magnificent spirit of a ballerina trying to escape the gravity of the world’s hardships.
The lonely and weary audience is thirsty for the sympathy and comfort of the dancers. As dancers, we believe that the flapping of our wings gives hope to the hearts of those who love the art of dance and gives them the courage to overcome this pandemic.
My heart is already starting to pound.
KANG Sue-jin (born in 24 April 1967), Artistic Director of Korean National Ballet.
Honorary doctorate degree in the Department of Dance, Sookmyung Women’s University in Seoul, Republic of Korea. Stuttgart Ballet soloist and principal dancer for over 15 years. Appointed as “Kammertanzerin (Royal Court Dancer)”, Germany, in 2007. Honorary Ambassador of the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympics.
KANG Sue-jin uses her fame and her artistic skills for introducing disabled children to dance.
1985 Prix de Lausanne, Scholarship
1990 President Prize, Republic of Korea
1999 Prix Benois de la Danse, Best Female Dancer
1999 Order of Cultural Merit, Bogwan, Republic of Korea
2001 The 9th KBS Global Korean Award, Arts & Culture Category
2002 The Ho-Am Foundation, Ho-Am Prize, The Arts
2007 John Cranko Association, John Cranko Award, Germany
2007 Order of Civil Merit, Seokryu Medal, Republic of Korea
2014 Order of Merit of Baden- Württemberg, Germany
2014 The Kowoon Foundation, The Kowoon Cultural Award
2015 Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism of Korea, Sejong Cultural Award, Art and Culture
2015 Association of Korean Journalists, Proud Korean Award, Art and Culture
2016 Paradise Culture Foundation, Paradise Award, Special Merits 2016 Korean-German Society, 9th Mirok-Li Prize
2017 The 7th Korea Wave Awards, Award for Service of Excellence in Pure Art