The Korean dance prodigy, little Choi Seung-hee. These are the modifiers that follow Korean dancer, Seok Ye-bin. When Seok Ye-bin was seven, she started to perform the dance of Choi Seung-hee and received a lot of attention with the nickname "little Choi Seung-hee.” She was the first generation in the class for the gifted at Korea National University of Arts. Dancing for 15 years, she is performing not only in Korea, but also in various foreign countries. Her mother, Kim Mi-rae, is a second disciple who inherited the dance of Choi Seung-hee and now Seok Ye-bin is the third generation. Seok Ye-bin says she wants to remove the prejudice that Korean traditional dance is boring and inform the pleasures of it. CAH met and talked with Seok Ye-bin who is a sophomore at CAU.
CAH: Last April, you successfully performed “Choi Seung-hee Arirang” with a large amount of attention. The 3D image technique in harmony with Korean traditional dance was also eye-catching. I wonder how you felt after the performance.
Seok: I have been performing “Choi Seung-hee Arirang” each year for three years. This year, we tried 3D imaging for the first time and thankfully many people liked it. I felt that the combination of dancing with images was so unique and that could attract more attention. I think it helps to break the stereotype that Korean traditional dance is boring. There are also people who miss Choi Seung-hee. With the help of my family, I could make another great performance.
CAH: In particular, “Pearl Dancer,” which was created in 1960, has been delivered in Korea for almost 60 years. What kind of program is it?
Seok: “Pearl Dancer” is a program featuring pearls running through the sea. In fact, it was quite a tough challenge since references rarely exist. I just heard a few things from Kim Young-soon. Fortunately, the music remained and my mother and I recreated it modernly. We focused on the meaning to revive this program.
CAH: You've been dancing since childhood. How did you begin dancing? (Did your mother have a big influence?)
Seok: My mother is also a dancer and my father is a stage producer. Naturally I heard a lot of music and environmental influences were crucial. I don’t remember, but according to my father, when I was a baby, I saw the performance that my father produced. There was a dancing scene and I followed the dancing. Moreover, since my mother teaches dancing to students, I spontaneously started dancing.
CAH: You have been dancing for a long time, and you are a dancer recognized by many people. What was the reason you entered the Korean Dance Department at Chung-Ang University?
Seok: I started dancing when I was very young and have had many stage experiences unlike my peers. To continue dancing in the future, I wanted to learn more at university. My parents and brother all graduated from CAU, so I had enough information. It is quite a familiar place to me and I thought I could get more help when it comes to completing my Master’s and Doctor’s degrees.
CAH: You also performed a lot abroad and especially in Myanmar, which is a Buddhist nation. There you gave a thrill to people by dancing the “Buddhist Dance.” Please introduce us to the “Buddhist Dance,” which is Choi Seung-hee’s representative dance.
Seok: The “Buddhist Dance” is a very static dance. I approached this program artistically rather than religiously. I think there are many static programs in Korean dance, but there are few that spurt its own energy. “Buddhist Dance” is one of them, so it is an attractive program. I pay deep attention when dancing to this program and many people like it. It is a meaningful program that first incorporated holograms.
CAH: You enrolled in Chung-Ang University last year. If you have any, please tell us the most memorable moment of your campus life so far.
Seok: CAU was the first time I met a lot of my peers. While preparing for the performances, we spent a lot of time together. It was good to gather with those who I have bonded emotionally with. I also like meeting new people, so it was impressive to talk with students from other departments. Getting to know new and various things were the most memorable moments.
CAH: In what aspects is CAU of help to you?
Seok: Social skills are helpful and I can learn things that cannot be gained alone. Through performance tests and practice, I can strengthen the basics once again. Learning new programs is also beneficial.
CAH: Do you have professors whom you admire or memorable classes that you took during the first year of college? Please give us reasons as well.
Seok: I actually have one professor who taught me last semester. He was a new professor named Cha Jong-hyun and he taught Korean traditional dance classes for Korean traditional dance major students. One day, while he was teaching us about the theory of dance, he gave us a valuable life lesson that I still remember and try to put into action. He told us to try a variety of things in different fields of interest. He advised us not to just focus on Korean traditional dance, but rather other things that might be helpful in the future. He wanted every student to be good or skilled at every type of dance, rather than just one. I was so touched because none of the other professors had ever said that before. Other professors would always tell students that the most important part is to earn good grades. However, this new professor was different. Professor Cha Jong-hyun told students that it is better off to do something that can widen your expertise. This made me try a variety of things that I would not have done without his advice.
CAH: What attracted you to Korean traditional dance?
Seok: I personally think that there is one charming fact about Korean traditional dance that no other dance has. Korean traditional dance has the beauty that no other type of dance has, such as ballet, jazz, or tap dance. It is the only one that cannot be just imitated by other dancers. Korean traditional dance has a uniqueness and special power within it. Thus, those who try to imitate the dance choreography cannot simply follow it or express the same gestures. Therefore, I think that this is what truly makes Korean traditional dance more outstanding from other various types of dance
CAH: There was a Korean traditional dance performance with the song “Let It Go”. How and why did you collaborate Korean traditional dance with such a song?
Seok: One of the main reasons that I picked “Let It Go” was that; it was significant to pick a song that is popular among all ages. Since, this song is popular and recognizable to almost everyone, this song was perfect as my performance song. It is important for the audience to be familiar with the songs that I am performing to because then they will be more likely to focus on the dance. After the show, I was very pleased because, not only did everyone give a positive opinion of the dance performance, but also everyone was able to focus on the dancing rather than the music.
CAH: We know, that you started Korean traditional dance when you were very young. Have you ever had any slumps or obstacles?
Seok: Actually, my slump came when I was really young. I think it came to me when I was only seven or eight years old. Before I was seven, my mom was my one and only teacher who taught me Korean traditional dance. I was always busy learning dance choreography from her. However, once my mom became a professor at university, she no longer had time to teach me. So, I suddenly stopped dancing and just became a normal elementary kid. I was home alone almost every day just doing nothing. Because I suddenly lost interest and the importance of Korean dance, I was very depressed. Thus, I think that this was the only obstacle that I faced throughout my career years.
CAH: You are known as a “little Choi Seung-hee” by people. Have you ever complained or disliked being compared to her?
Seok: Not at all! Since I was young, I actually loved being called “little Choi Seung-hee”. This is because she was and still is my role model. Also, she is one of the most admirable people that I know. Just like Choi Seung-hee, I want to travel around the world and spread Korean traditional dance while I do so. I want to learn her creativity and her enthusiasm towards dance. It is amazing that she tried so many different kinds of dance when the dance was not even developed back in the seventies and eighties. Since, she is one of the first people to spread Korean traditional dance, she means a lot to me and I want to follow in her footsteps and develop just like her.
CAH: Among all the performances that you’ve done so far, which one is your favorite? And why?
Seok: There is one performance that I learned when I was young. It is called “Muldogi” dance. This dance is the one that I performed the most on television. One of the reasons that I love this dance among all the other ones is that it is fun to dance while I can be focused. It is not only fun to dance, but also has techniques that I could enjoy during the dance. This choreography makes me fall in love every time I dance on stage.
CAH: Please tell us about your future plans or goals that you want to achieve.
Seok: Well, my main goal is to spread Korean traditional dance all around the world. I want to show my dance and techniques to the whole wide world so that people can also feel the depth of Korean traditional dance. Currently, Korean traditional dance has yet been spread internationally. One day, I want to become the top Korean traditional dancer in Korea and all around the world.
Today, Seok Ye-bin is famous for being known as the “little Choi Seung-hee,” the Korean dance prodigy. Since Seok Ye-bin was young, she received lots of attention compared to other young dancers and is still loved by everyone. During the interview, CAH was surprised to see her enthusiasm towards Korean traditional dance. While CAH was interviewing her, we felt her passion and true love towards her career. She was not only confident about spreading the word of Korean traditional dance to the whole wide world, but was also optimistic about the future of Korean traditional dance. It was an honor to see her pride in her dance and in Korea. CAH will always encourage Seok Ye-bin to become the most famous Korean traditional dancer who performs internationally to all people around the world!!!< 저작권자 © 중앙헤럴드 무단전재 및 재배포금지 >