SUE JIN KANG - THE IRON BUTTERFLY

03.10.2016

This is how the world has styled SUE JIN KANG because of her flawless elegance, her beauty and her rigorous exactitude, both on and off stage. As she bids her farewell to the Stuttgart Ballet after thirty years, the Korean superstar looks at her own wonderful career with satisfaction and happiness. She reveals to ALESSANDRO BIZZOTTO what went on behind the scenes of her professional life and why giving up dancing doesn’t sadden her. After all, her new adventure as the Director of the Korean National Ballet has only begun, just two years ago.

Sue Jin Kang and Jason Reilly in Giselle © Stuttgarter Ballett 

A deluge of applause. And flowers, a huge amount of flowers – bunches falling from the balconies, roses presented by each member of the company. On my seat at the Stuttgart Opera House, as on every other one in the sold-out theatre the night of Sue Jin Kang’s final Onegin, a kind of placard reading "Danke Sue Jin" with a red heart. At the end of her final curtain call – a thrilling standing ovation – we are given the signal to hold up our placards. The result almost moves both Kang and her audience to tears.
When I meet her, the morning after her Stuttgart Ballet farewell performance, she smiles as a young ballerina in her early 20s. She hugs me warmly, but I can feel she is not moved anymore. She looks totally relaxed. After all, in a couple of days she will be leaving and heading back to South Korea, where she has been directing the Korean National Ballet since 2014.
As one of the most celebrated ballerinas worldwide takes her seat in front of me, she starts talking as if it was one of the most normal days she'd had in a while. “I was dancing Onegin also the last time you came to see me performing, wasn’t I?” she asks me. “You look younger today!”. She laughs.

Sue Jin Kang and Jason Reilly in Onegin © Stuttgarter Ballett 

Yes, it was Onegin.

And Onegin also when you interviewed me for the first time and we had that photoshoot…? We had so much fun!

Oh no, that time I did not see you dancing…

So has it been your second Onegin with me last night?

The third one. So sad that it has been the last one.

It has been the right moment for me to stop. You wouldn’t like to see me going on dancing for years and years but without being able to do as a Principal should. I’ve stopped because I respect myself and my audience – and I wanted to end my career while still in shape and able to give something worthy on stage. I think you’ve been both sad and happy last night! I have had a terrific farewell performance – it has made me feel so happy.

Sue Jin Kang and  Marijn Rademaker in Die Kameliendame © Stuttgarter Ballett 

Yes, it has been a true thrill.

What they have done for me was simply beautiful. After the show, Reid [Anderson, Artistic Director of the Stuttgart Ballet, Ed.] told me that leaving placards for the audience was his idea. But he wasn’t expecting it to work so well without rehearsing! It has been amazing, totally unexpected! I won’t forget it...

Sue Jin Kang after her farewell performance © Stuttgarter Ballett

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