Korean National Ballet Principal Joins The Washington Ballet

The Washington Ballet, newly helmed by former American Ballet Theatre star Julie Kent, continues to attract top talent. Former Dance Theatre of Harlem member Ashley Murphy joined the company last August (prior to Kent's arrival). Brittany Stone, previously a Boston Ballet corps member, recently came on board. Now Eun Won Lee, a former principal dancer with Korean National Ballet, will join the company.

Although Lee's name might not be familiar to Western audiences, she's a product of rigorous training at the Korean National University of Arts. Lee earned numerous artistic distinctions during her tenure at Korean National Ballet, including The Korea Ballet Association’s Prima Ballerina Award. Her competition background is equally notable and includes a Junior Bronze Medal from the Varna International Ballet Competition.

Hye Ju Go, Seung Won Shin and Eun Won Lee in Korean National Ballet's Swan Lake (photo by Sunkyung Reina Jang)

The Washington Ballet has historically performed an eclectic mix of work by of-the-moment choreographers (like Trey McIntyre, Edwaard Liang, David Dawson and Nicolo Fonte), Balanchine ballets and smaller-scale classics (for example, one-act ballets by Antony Tudor and Jerome Robbins). Kent's season announcement, which includes work by William Forsythe and Twyla Tharp, will also introduce choreography by Justin Peck, Frederick Ashton and Alexei Ratmansky to the company. It will be interesting to see if Kent's ABT touch prioritizes classics, and how the members of the non-hierarchical company will be cast in upcoming productions. Dancers used to principal roles, like Murphy and Lee, may be pushed in new directions, while previously lower-ranked dancers like Stone may have new opportunities.

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