Young Soon Kim, artistic director and founder of WHITE WAVE RISING Young Soon Kim Dance Company and presenter/curator of WHITE WAVE’s Festivals Project, is one of the most renowned choreographers/teachers/dancers Korea has ever produced. Born in Kwang Ju, Korea, she began studying traditional Korean dance at the age of seven. She later studied ballet and modern dance, winning a gold medal in the Korean National Dance Competition for three consecutive years. Ms. Kim received a BFA in dance from Korea’s Ewha University in 1974. At the invitation of the Martha Graham School, Kim came to the United States in 1977 and was awarded the Rudolf Nureyev Scholarship under which she studied for three years. She has also studied with David Howard, Louis Falco, The School of American Ballet, Harkness Ballet, Lynn Simonson, Zvi Gotheiner and in workshops with Lar Lubovitch, Twyla Tharp and Martha Myers. Ms. Kim danced with Jennifer Muller /The Works from 1980-1984 performing in Canada, Central and South America, the Caribbean, Europe and the United States. She was Co-Artistic Director for the Throne Dance Theater in NY, `83-`86 and has also performed with the Pearl Lang and Joyce Trisler Companies, among others.
Acclaimed nationally and internationally, Young Soon Kim’s 34-year career as a choreographer began as a brilliant performer appearing at major festivals and collaborating with music greats like Dave Brubeck. In addition to her company’s NY Seasons, Kim has choreographed for City Contemporary Dance Company in Hong Kong, Seoul Contemporary Dance Company in Korea and the St. Gallen Dance Loft in Switzerland. Since founding WHITE WAVE Young Soon Kim Dance Company in 1988, Kim and her company have traversed the globe performing her repertory of 58 original works.
Tours of her work include: a 60-day tour in Korea, as well as Taiwan, China and Hong Kong, where Ms. Kim interviewed with CNN’s Inside Asia (broadcast internationally). Ms. Kim has also conducted classes and workshops worldwide. She was featured in the documentary film Arirang: The Korean American Journey, which premiered at the Smithsonian Institution and aired nationwide on a PBS broadcast in 2003.
In recent years, Kim’s creative energies have reached new heights. For example, her critically acclaimed SSOOT series originated in 2007 with “SSOOT I,” a full-evening piece for sixteen performers that premiered at Dance Theater Workshop’s Bessie Schoenberg Theater (which is now New York Live Art), celebrating Kim’s 30th anniversary of dance in New York. Her novel choreographic method was described in the press by journalist Robert Kruse:
“Young Soon began by visualizing the choreography and working with dancers and aerial artists to make a reality out of it. Through the use of harnesses and suspended loops of fabric, Young Soon choreographs without a bottom. This is unlike the circus style aerobatics you may be used to seeing…What makes it unique is Young Soon’s unification of her style with the aerial device. Her work is more of an abstract expressionist dance gliding through the air. This is also incorporated with her planet earth-based choreography.”
The rapturous reception to the piece’s passionate dance and beautiful aerial choreography inspired her to create two sequels, “SSOOT II” (2008) and “SSOOT III” (2009), which premiered to enthusiastic audiences at WHITE WAVE John Ryan Theater. SSOOT takes its name from a Korean word, which literally translates as charcoal in English but is also used colloquially to mean “fresh energy.”
In January 2013, Ms. Kim traveled to Korea to perform as part of the Celebration of Korea’s 50 Years of Modern Dance at the Arko Arts Theater in Seoul. Upon their return to the US, WWYSKDC’s ten-member ensemble took the stage and ignited its 2013, 25th Anniversary Season at APAP organized by Pentacle, at DNA, on 280 Broadway.
Since relocating to DUMBO, Brooklyn in 2001, Ms. Kim has also gained renown as a curator for presenting a series of Festivals at the WHITE WAVE John Ryan Theater. These festivals are mainstays of New York’s modern dance scene, involving 690 participating choreographers and dance companies and over 3,500 participating performers. In the words of The New York Times Roslyn Sulcas, “Ms. Kim’s attempt to showcase a broad variety of work is admirable.” Many artists have honed their craft, developed new work and launched careers at the festivals. As stated by Backstage’s Lisa Jo Sagolla, “The New York City downtown dance world owes a great debt to Young Soon Kim.”