Born in Japan, sisters Ae-Soon and Youngsil Kim began dancing at an early age. The older of the two, Ae-Soon, began ballet lessons when she was three years old, and Youngsil followed in her footsteps several years later.
Both girls grew up studying ballet, but they both soon found different paths, different interests, and today they both dance professionally in the U.S. but in completely different styles. Ae-Soon, who trained in traditional Korean dance in Japan (the sisters are fourth-generation Korean, born and raised in Japan), found her way to a modern dance company, Carolyn Dorfman Dance. And Youngsil stuck to her ballet roots and has danced with Complexions Contemporary Ballet since 2013.
But this summer marked the first time the Kim sisters shared the same stage. On July 27, at Rumsey Field’s SummerStage in NYC, Carolyn Dorfman Dance opened for Complexions. After all these years, the Kim sisters’ dance paths have crossed, and it was a thrilling reunion for both.
“We are so excited!” Ae-Soon told Dance Informa earlier this summer. “I wish our family could come to see this performance. We are really happy that we made our parents so proud.”
At SummerStage, Ae-Soon performed in Carolyn Dorfman’s WAVES, a collaboration between company dancers and three musicians. Youngsil danced in Dwight Rhoden’s works for Complexions, including“Balled Unto”, “Crying to Cry Out” and “Strum”.
“Since I left Japan seven years before Youngsil, we became completely different dancers,” shared Ae-Soon. “Now, we both are professional dancers who believe that ballet technique is strongly required for any dance style.”
Once she left Japan, Ae-Soon trained at England’s Elmhurst School for Dance and at Laine Theatre Arts before touring with The King and I UK National Tour. She moved to the U.S. in 2003, when she pursued her BFA in Dance from Boston Conservatory. Ae-Soon moved to NYC in 2007 and continued to take class at Steps on Broadway, Broadway Dance Center and Ballet Arts.
Youngsil’s adventure abroad began when she visited her sister in Europe and found herself inspired to train away from home as well. Five years later, she moved to NYC to study at the Joffrey Ballet School and later at Ellison Ballet.
Today, when not busy performing and touring with their individual company, the sisters sometimes take ballet class together, miles away from home where it all started.
Will the Kim sisters ever share the same stage again, perhaps even in the same work?
“I hope we can perform together in Japan one day!” Youngsil expressed. “That would be nice.”
“I’m not sure [we’d perform] in the same piece,” Ae-Soon said. “We are too different in style as dancers, but we will definitely work together one day as long as we remain in the dancing world! I would love to create a piece for my sister and for dancers who move with a similar style and body facility.”
So maybe the Kim sisters’ dance paths will cross again. But either way, and no matter the direction they’ll take, two things will remain the same: they will always be sisters, and they’ll always be dancers.
“I believe that every path can work out,” Ae-Soon shared. “It’s just really what you’re passionate about the most.”
By Laura Di Orio of Dance Informa.
Photo (top): Ae-Soon Kim. Photo by Paula Lobo.