Profiles

Why ABT Principal Hee Seo Loves the Art of Giving Back

Hee Seo in La Bayadere. Courtesy ABT.

What are you proudest of in your career?

That I learned how to work in the studio. I always loved being onstage, but now I love the process of getting there. I used to want to be perfect in a role from day 1. Now I work to where I want to be.

Is there a role you haven't danced yet that you're excited to do?

I can't wait to learn Manon—I am dancing it with American Ballet Theatre this season. Usually ballet characters are straightforward—shy peasant girl or flirt—but Manon is complicated.


Seo in Giselle

Courtesy ABT

What is one of your best memories onstage?

When I danced Giselle recently with Ballet Nacional de Cuba. It was difficult—it was hard to communicate with people, the theater floor was different, the bathroom didn't have a door. But their knowledge of and enthusiasm for the ballet made it fascinating. It made my appreciation for old-world, traditional ballet even greater.

You work with Youth America Grand Prix to help Korean dance students. Why did you get involved with that?

I grew up with dance scholarships, so giving back was something I always wanted to do. I talked to Larissa Saveliev, and the idea popped up that I start YAGP in Korea. To do something like that there, you have to create a nonprofit foundation, so I started the Hee Seo Foundation four years ago. We give grants to 10 dance students and work with YAGP to help them go to company-affiliated schools.

What else does your foundation do?

It helps organize free master classes, which I give for students all over Korea who are not pre-professional, who don't have a chance to get master classes elsewhere. I'm so proud of that and absolutely love doing it. We've taught almost 1,000 students.


What's the least glamorous part of being a ballerina?

We're bag ladies. We have a lot of stuff we carry everywhere we go. You should see me at the airport: I'm lugging my costumes, my makeup case—anything but glamorous.

What do you miss most about Korea?

My family. They come once or twice a year to New York, but as I get older, I miss them more.

How do you treat yourself?

It depends how much indulgence I think I deserve. After an ABT season at the Met, I'll get a head-to-toe spa treatment. If it was an especially good rehearsal, I will get an expensive manicure.

What do you like to cook?

I prefer one-pot recipes. I cook jambalaya, beef bourguignon. I can't say I'm a great chef, but I like shopping for the ingredients, preparing, a candlelit dinner. I just don't like doing the dishes.

Instagram

Are you a total bunhead who loves to write? You might be the perfect fit for Pointe. We're seeking an editorial intern who's equally passionate about ballet and journalism.

Keep reading...
News
Frances Chung as the title role in Christopher Wheeldon's Cinderella. Erik Tomasson, Courtesy SFB.

Six-time Tony Award-winning lighting designer Natasha Katz has lit such Broadway musical hits as Frozen, Hello Dolly! and A Chorus Line. She is also one of choreographer Christopher Wheeldon's biggest collaborators, designing the lighting for works such as Broadway's An American in Paris, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Cinderella, a 2012 co-production of San Francisco Ballet and Dutch National Ballet. Shortly after SFB opened their 2020 season with Cinderella last month, Pointe caught up with Katz to talk about her career, her collaborative relationship with Wheeldon, and the lighting profiles of co-productions.

Keep reading...
Viral Videos

Happy Valentine's Day! Below, Josephine Lee plays a version of the Newlywed Game with Alonzo King LINES Ballet dancers and couple Michael Montgomery and Shuaib Elhassan.

Keep reading...
Profiles
Irina Kolesnikova with Kimin Kim in Swan Lake. Courtesy Konstantin Tachkin.

This weekend, Irina Kolesnikova will appear on a U.S. stage for the first time, dancing alongside Bolshoi Ballet star Denis Rodkin. The Russian ballerina is a member of St. Petersburg Ballet Theatre, a touring company helmed by Konstantin Tachkin that will appear at the Brooklyn Academy of Music February 15-16. Before joining SPBT in 1998, Kolesnikova, a native of St. Petersburg, graduated from the city's esteemed Vaganova Ballet Academy. Koleniskova spent just two years in the company's lower ranks before being promoted to principal.

Keep reading...