Exclusive Interview with Artistic Director & Choreographer Young Soon Kim

Article by Kevin Young
Photo credit Xue Liang & Niko

New Yorker Young Soon Kim, a Korean-American and a dance virtuoso practicing for over 30 years runs her own dance company called WHITE WAVE in Dumbo Brooklyn. She invites dance companies from all over the United States and Asia to perform in an annual showcase. Kim is a living legend in New York’s dance community and in the coming interview her eloquence, dance devotion, and her prestige are exhibited.

What can the audience expect to see from the show you put together?

Dumbo dance festival presents 75 different dance companies from all over the United States. About 315 dancers. We have 15 different programs so the audience can witness the wide diversity of these pieces. Every hour is a different company showcasing their dancers. So each hour the audience can see different styles, costumes, and music. There is something for everyone.

What is the purpose of the show?

Our mission for presenting this festival is to promote young and rising choreographers. Through our festival what we are actually doing is acting as a stepping stone for these artists to advance their careers.

Tell us about your company?

My company was formed in 1988. It’s been around for 26 years and through my company, my vision is fulfilled. My vision is to communicate stories to the audience through dance movement. I really like showing human emotions on stage. As humans we go through so much. Every individual has different experiences. We all go through life differently and express emotions differently.

How does it feel to be nominated for the KBS global citizen award for the 2nd time now?

The first time I got nominated after my Korea tour in 2012. I didn’t even know that award existed at the time. Unfortunately I didn’t get it. A painter from Paris received the award that year. A couple of months ago KBS called me and they wanted me to enter again because they had all of my information already. I hope this time I win. (laughs). It’s a $30,000 cash prize and what’s even more exciting about this award is the documentary film that would be made about me if I win. It would be cool for the camera crew from Seoul to come here in New York.

What is the message you want people to take away after watching the performances?

Every audience member is at a different stage in their life. Whether they have bad or good circumstances inside and outside. They will each get a different message because of that factor. Overall what they will pick up is a transformative vision that is relatable. For example despite being a professional choreographer and director when I go see any performance that moves me deeply, something stirs inside me! Overtime you learn that the emotions you experience while watching a performance reflect your life. Everyone has a different perception and persona.

What is your favorite style of dance?

I do contemporary dance. But I respect all genres of dance. I actually started off doing ballet. Although my answer is still contemporary dance.

What inspired you to have a career in dance?

I get asked this question a lot. My answer is that I was dancing even when I was inside my mother’s womb. My mother wasn’t a professional dancer but she wanted to become one. She instilled this dream onto me. I was born to do it. I didn’t choose to be a dancer. I started when I was six years old. In fact I’ve been traveling to Hong Kong, mainland China, and Taiwan to both perform and teach at different colleges. One time I did an interview in Hong Kong and the next day my interview was the featured headline. My article took up the entire page of the newspaper, and the title was Born to do it. (laughs)

How does your show promote the Asian culture?

I’m a Korean-American and even though I perform contemporary dance, deep in my roots there is a real reflection of my culture and heritage. Through my festivals more than 25% of the dancers are Asian. In white rising cities which starts in October, out of the 20 companies 4 of them contain primarily Asian dancers. I also tend to invite companies from Korea and both Japanese and Chinese theatre groups. I’m definitely supporting the greater Asian community.

Kim, an articulate speaker, professional choreographer, who dons majestic red hair is attuned to performing on stage. She always looks deep within the performances she watches as an audience member and has an everlasting passion for dance. She always has a knack for recruiting the best up-and-coming dancers and choreographers. Yet in addition to being a danseuse, Kim is a steadfast warrior for ensuring New York’s dance community stays vivacious in addition to helping promote Asian cultures.

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