2014 USA IBC Allowed A Brief Exchange with Hae Shik Kim

12 Jul

Vicki Harper-Blake said she wanted to defer interviews with jurors until Round I was over, so it was not until Saturday morning, June 21 I met Hae Shik Kim, juror from Korea, in the Marriott Hotel lobby, sitting at two heavily upholtsered, high back=chairs with a stone table between on which a Wi-Fi access accessory was attached. Though officially retired from the Korean National Academy of the Arts, KNUA, Hae Shik still teaches, taking company rehearsals, especially when organizing Galas for younger students to display them in Seoul and elsewhere.

Using a phrase from my mother’s generation, Hae Shik Kim always is “well turned out.” Occasionally it might be a set of trousers, but usually it is a dress with a gauzy jacket, monochrome in shade, tiny pleats revealing she patronizes Korean establishments selling Issaye Miyaki designs. “They pack so easily and always look good,” is her comment. This year Miyake apparently added multi-hued circles to his offerings.

I keep seeing her name on the jurors’ list of various international competitions, so I asked her how many she attended. “1998 Jackson was my first competition. This is my fifth here. I have gone to competitions as a juror to Helsinki, Luxembourg, Prix de Lausanne, Nagoya – a very strong competition; Shanghai, New York International, Toulouse, South Africa. Then there is the yearly Seoul International Ballet Competition, where I am listed as artistic director. More recently there was the Beijing Competition, the first for adults; they also have one for the Academy, the young dancers. Jana Kurova had a competition in Prague I attended as a juror, and, of course, there now is Youth America Grand Prix.“ The recitation is enough to list Hae Shik as Madame Competition.

Hae Shik came into my orbit through a Leslie Friedman feature in Dance Teacher Now, the precursor of today’s Dance Teacher, when Leslie subbed modern dance classes at Fresno State University. Married to Joo Ick Kim, a professor in the Agricultural Department of the University, Hae Shik was teaching ballet classes at the University. Having trained at the Royal Ballet School following her graduation from Ewha University in Seoul, the first Korean to enter the British training center, she later danced as a soloist for the Zurich Opera under Nicholas Beriosov, then for Fernand Nault at Les Grands Ballets Canadien before marrying and moving to Fresno. Hae Shik told me she arrived in England with two English words in her vocabulary.

Shortly after Leslie’s feature was published, Hae Shik was invited to become the Artistic Director of the Korean National Ballet (KNB) In 1994, I suggested her name to Jana Kurova as a good candidate for The Czech National Foundation and the annual Gala she was planning. We met at the 1995 Gala; a friendship ensued, and in 1998 Hae Shik joined the jury at Jackson for the first time.

One of the great charms about the Kims is Joo’s support of Hae Shik. When Hae Shik flew to be interviewed for the directorship of KNB, Joo went with her, appearing with her at the interview. “We are a team,” she said. “This is the American way,” Joo asserted, “I cannot allow my wife to fail.” This unorthodox approach, even for Americans, paid off; Joo continued his support, long distance by enrolling his classmates from the university, important figures in finance and business at the time, to support the company and productions. Some even served as supers in Russian-style productions such as Le Corsaire.

Shortly following KNB’s production of La Bayadere, staged with the assistance of Maria Kondratieva, retired Bolshoi principal, Hae Shik was asked to create the dance department of the newly-founded Korea National University of Arts, KNUA. Starting from scratch, funds permitting a spectacular physical sports medicine clinic with the best and latest equipment, Hae Shik invited noted international teachers and coaches to Seoul for the advanced students; pre-collegiate students were also permitted to attend.

Hae Shik’s vision has paid off. Without surfing other competitions to record honors awarded Korean dancers, the progress in training and resulting artistry, the USA IBC record reads: 1998: Ji-Yun Park, Senior Women’s Bronze; 2002: Eun Ji-Ha, Dance Magazine Scholarship; Sung Yi Han, Eun Ji Han, Junior Bronze; 2006: Sae Eun Park, Junior Women’s Bronze; 2010: Seo Hye Han, Joffrey Award of Merit; Ki-Min Kim, Junior Men’s Silver; Ji Yon Chae, Junior Women’s Gold; Ji Yon Chae and Ki-Min Kim, Best Junior Couple. In anyone’s list, it’s a healthy record. Hae Shik informed me “Ki-Min Kim is now a soloist at the Maryinsky Ballet.”

The Kims continue their two-country travel with a new residence in Las Vegas. Hopefully, San Francisco will see more of the Korean talents whose foundation was laid by Hae Shik Kim.

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