Have you ever seen a moving dance performance? Dance can be said to express everything with only gestures of the body to the background music. Dancers use their expressions, fingertips, and even a strand of hair to express a story in depth, and the emotions and words of its character. Or the dancing itself can be a great impression and inspiration to us. There is a dancer who began her world-class moves with such marvelous gestures. SMT met Park Eunbi, a ballerina, and listened to her story.
Before beginning the interview, would you please introduce yourself to our readers?
Hello. I am Park Eunbi. After graduating from the Department of Dance, early in February 2020, I'm currently working with the Portuguese National Ballet, Companhia Nacional de Bailado.
How did you start your life as a dancer?
There was no special reason. I first encountered dance classes in kindergarten during childhood, and I became interested in dance. After that, I joined a dance academy and found that I like to be on stage while doing ballet competitions and performances.
For what reason did you choose ballet among the various genres of dance?
Initially, I selected it because of its pointe shoes and gorgeous ballet costume. But as I majored in ballet, I realized how delicate ballet is. And every time I achieve something difficult one by one, I feel more interested in ballet. Also, I was attracted to expressing something through ballet. And among all the genres of dance, I thought that ballet was the most delicately expressive. Also, I felt a great attraction to the drama ballet genre, for example, Romeo and Juliet.
You graduated from the Department of Dance. What was the most helpful or impressive thing of your undergraduate life?
I participated in a performance of several professors and instructors while I was at university. I have received many opportunities for the stage, and the passion for ballet that I had forgotten because of the entrance examination came alive again. There were also lessons such as stage makeup, and things learned then are currently being used in my ballet performances.
You are a member of the Companhia Nacional de Bailado (CNB) now. How or why did you join there?
During the COVID-19 situation, there was an announcement for video auditions, and I was selected through an online audition. I chose CNB because the company's repertoire was good, and I wanted to dance in a free mood abroad. The atmosphere of the ballet company also was a large reason for choosing the company. As the art director's character, the relationship between the members, and the rehearsal mood of CNB was very free, I wanted to join it.
It seems the performance industry is not as active as it used to be due to the current COVID-19 pandemic situation, but if you have any recent performances or activities, please introduce them.
It has not been easy to perform because of COVID-19, but instead, the national support business has increased. Many small ballet companies appeared, and they looked for dancers for each project, so there were some chances for freelancing. So, I have danced in a variety of galas and full-time performances for two years. Then the situation got better than before, and I left for Portugal.
You must have done so many ballet performances including the above. Among them, what was your most memorable performance?
Don Quixote. Freelancing is not easy because the classic full-time performances require a lot of people. So, it was impressive to me because it was my first full-time performance in which I was a soloist. I had always been hired by a freelancer to prepare only for one performance and rehearsal, and I had to sign many contracts. Then, I worked for a big private company for 1 year. There was a lot of work with the master and the director, but it was a really good experience. As hard as the practice was, the intensity was worth it when I stood on the stage.
Then, what do you think is the most important thing when you perform?
There are two things. The first is to be confident. Confidence is proportional to the amount of practice before the performance. Confidence is a factor that enables stable skills and acting on stage. The second is acting. At the moment I act, I have to be other things perfectly. Even if it is a tree or someone passing by. Additionally, eating is also important. For good muscle and energy, I need to eat well-chosen foods.
What do you think are some requirements that a dancer should have?
I think they should have a strong mind and stamina. When a dancer stands on stage, tremendous stamina is required. To do this, a dancer must actively participate in strength training, classes, and rehearsals regularly. A dancer also needs mental strength to overcome the intense tension and anxiety that could be felt sometimes. Mental health is very important to properly show my performance in front of a large audience.
Do you have a certain routine working as a dancer?
I have a half-body bath and ice my feet in the morning and evening. I also try to do muscle exercise before and after the class and try to sleep for more than six hours a day. In terms of food, I try my best to eat food that does not contain sugar because food high in sugar does not build quality muscle. In addition, the body needs to be supplemented with sufficient protein to revitalize it. Lastly, before a performance, I try to focus on my body by listening to my favorite music such as pop songs or OST songs.
To the readers who love ballet performances, please introduce any tips you have such as what to pay particular attention to when watching them.
All of the performances have stories. Before watching the performance, the audience will be able to understand it more easily if they read the pamphlet or a performance review about it. Also, like musicals, the way how a role is interpreted differs from dancer to dancer. Even though it is the same role, the feeling of the dancer may be different. So, it's good for them to know this point. Also, in the case of drama ballet or classical ballet, mime is used to make the content easier to understand. In addition, if they do a little research on the Internet before watching the performance, it will be much better to understand the contents fully.
What goal do you want to achieve in the future?
The goal is to experience different repertoires and perform various dances. And my dream is to stand on stage and act in a lead role one day. I want to dance so that people can remember the dancer who I am. And it's closer to a dream than a goal, but I want to try acting the role of Juliet in Romeo and Juliet. Because it is the repertoire which I love the most. And when I retire someday, I hope to teach students who dream of becoming professional dancers.
Lastly, do you have any final words that you would like to leave for Sookmyungians?
If you have a goal, never give up. After graduating early, I couldn't join the ballet company I had been accepted to because of COVID-19. I couldn't give the performance I had been preparing for, and I failed dozens of auditions. But I did not give up. In the process of failing, I learned a lot. It's hard to try again. I was always frustrated and wanted to give up. But I aimed to achieve my goal, and after persevering, I got here now. If you don't give up, whatever you want will come true.
- Graduated summa cum laude from Deokwon Arts High School
- Graduated early from the Department of Dance in Sookmyung Women's University
- 1st place at Kyushu International Dance Competition
- A current member of the Companhia Nacional de Bailado