WHO WE ARE

My name is SoEun Park, also known by my nickname Sonya. I am a junior in Michigan. There are a lot of things that I enjoy doing and appreciate, but the most prominent passion for me is ballet. I started ballet from the time I was six when I was in Korea, and I fell in love with it after I saw the ballet Giselle and started taking classes. 

Even after I moved to Michigan, I still continued to take ballet classes, perform on numerous stages, and go to competitions. I go to an amazing ballet school, Valentina's School of Ballet, where so many of my experiences, memories, and friends have blossomed from. Despite my love for ballet, there was one thing that bothered me about the ballet community. It was the implication of racism and microaggressions that you see in the ballet world, particularly in competitions and companies.

 

It is indisputable that ballet has a diversity problem. The majority of dancers in companies and competitions are not dancers of color. In classes or masterclasses, I was often the one of the few dancers who was a dancer of color.  My parents told me that I had to do way better than other dancers to overcome the obstacles in ballet, just because of my ethnicity and how I looked like. Often, I would see dancer’s of color getting lower scores even though they seemed to have performed better because of their “body” or the “judges preferences".” Having seen and experienced these indirectly, I felt frustrated and defeated. 

In the ballet community and even society in general, I realized that the repeating circle of racial inequality creates disparities of opportunities, which also contributes to racism, discrimination, and disadvantages of intersectionality to be omnipresent. For example, when minority groups are in poverty and can't afford their children to go to ballet lessons, the children can't train their technique and performance in order to be a ballet dancer.

 

Meanwhile, people with better financial situations are able to send their children to ballet schools so that they have a higher chance of becoming a professional dancer if they want to. This repeats in cycles for the next generation and then the next. Stereotypes and prejudices don't help in creating a diverse community in the ballet world either. This allowed me to give me hindsight on how grateful I should be and how much privilege I have in just being able to do something I truly love: ballet. 

This is why I created this program Stairway for Ballet. The mission for this program is to help eliminate racism and break stereotypes in the ballet community by advocating for change in equality in the ballet community and providing a free online ballet program for children ages 5-10, especially those who can't afford it. Every week, there are going to be free online ballet classes every Saturday. Once you register and sign up in the google forms, we are going to send you a zoom link every week so that your child can take these classes weekly online. 

 

In addition, podcasts will be posted biweekly on podcasts apps such as Spotify, Anchor, Google Podcasts, Overcast, Apple Podcasts, and so on as well as on this website. Our goal for the podcasts is to advocate for more diversity and change with real stories and by interviewing professional ballet dancers and students about their experiences on racism in ballet and what actions we can take for change. You can also check out some of the petitions to sign on MoveOn and YouTube videos that highlight ballet positions, conditioning, stretches that will donate the revenue to social organizations working against racial inequality. 

Stairway For Ballet emerged out of a pursuit to inspire and support the racial justice community, and a desire for actions to speak louder than words for the ballet world. Established in 2020, we are an organization driven by progressive ideas, bold actions, and a strong foundation of support. Contact us to learn more and get involved. 

Qualifications

  • =Substitude Teacher for Age 5-10 at Valentina's School of Ballet

  • =YAGP Chicago- got in New York for all groups (2015 February)

  • =YAGP Indianapolis- got in New York for all groups (2016 April)

  • = NYCDA- best group award (2016 April)

  • = WBAC Toronto- 2nd place in classical solo (2016 October)

  • = WBAC Finals- Judge's Choice Award (2016 November)

  • = Bolshoi summer intensive program NY 30% Scholarship (2017 January) 

  • = YAGP Toronto- Top 3 in group (2017 February)

  • = WBAC Toronto- 3rd place in classical solo (2017 October)

  • = WBAC Finals- 50% Scholarship for Kirov Academy of Ballet (2017 November)

  • = YAGP Chicago- Top 24 in Junior classical solo (2018 February)

  • = Bolshoi summer intensive program Connecticut 25% Scholarship (2019 January)

  • = Kirov summer intensive program 100% artistic Scholarship (2019 January)

  • = Invitation to the 2019 Year-Round Program of Kirov Academy of Ballet (2019 January)

  • = YAGP Toronto- Top 24 in Junior classical solo (2019 March)

  • = Boston Ballet School Summer Dance Program in Newton $500 tuition Scholarship (2019 March)

  • = 1st place for all ensembles (Gopak- accepted to New York Finals) (2019 March)

  • = WBAC Indianapolis- 2nd place for classical and 2nd place for contemporary (2019 October)

  • = WBAC Finals- Potential Award for classical and Potential Award for contemporary (2019 November) 

  • = YAGP Indianapolis- Top 12 in Senior classical solo (2020 March)

  • = 3rd place for all ensembles (The Human Condition, Align, Fall Apart, Fall Together, Polovtsian Dance- accepted to New York Finals) (2020 March)

  • =Next Generation summer intensive program 50% Scholarship (2020 March)

 

 

*YAGP= Youth American Grand Prix

*WBAC= World Ballet Arts Competition

*NYCDA= New York City Dance Alliance

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