South Korean Park Sae-eun is now the first Asian ballerina to reach the top etoile or star rank in the 352-year history of the Paris Opera Ballet.
The 31-year-old’s promotion comes as more people call for diversity in the world of elite classical ballet and was announced shortly after the star gave an emotional performance in a rendition of Romeo And Juliet in June this year.
Park played the iconic role of Juliet and her etoile nomination was announced to the Opera Bastille following the performance. The audience gave the dancer a standing ovation and she broke down in tears.
“A lot of emotions were overlapping - I was so happy and so grateful, and thought there really is such a day. I had been waiting for so long... and there were times that were a bit tough, and I was reminded of all of these all at the same time,” Park said in an interview with Agence France-Presse.
As one of only two current foreign-born etoiles at the renowned ballet company, here are five things you need to know about Park.
1. She trained in Russia’s “Vaganova” ballet method
Park started her ballet career in South Korea where she trained in Russia’s Vaganova ballet method in some of the top ballet schools in South Korea.
The Vaganova ballet method was developed by Russian dancer Agrippina Vaganova and has been refined over the course of 300 years.
It places emphasis on soulful expression, strength and flexibility. It also takes human anatomy into consideration and aims to be structured and scientific in its approach to ballet.
This is likely why today, Park is lauded for her emotional depth and lyricism on the stage.