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Ballerino Jeon Min-chul to join Mariinsky Ballet as soloist

July 9, 2024 - 13:57 By Hwang Dong-hee
Ballet dancer Jeon Min-chul (Courtesy of Baki/Jeon's Instagram)

South Korean ballet dancer Jeon Min-chul, 20, is set to join the world-renowned Mariinsky Ballet in Russia.

Jeon is the second Korean dancer to become part of the prestigious company, following its principal dancer Kim Ki-min, 32.

According to media reports, Jeon recently passed an audition in Russia and is scheduled to join the Mariinsky Ballet as a soloist in February next year.

Jeon who graduated from Sunhwa Arts Middle School and Sunhwa Arts High School, is currently a third-year student at Korea National University of Arts' School of Dance.

The Mariinsky Ballet ranks its members from lowest to highest as corps de ballet, coryphees (a leading dancer in a corps de ballet), second soloists, first soloists and principals. It is exceptionally rare for someone to skip the Coryphees stage and be invited to join as a first soloist.

The Mariinsky Ballet is particularly difficult to get into, with only two Asian dancers, including Kim and Japanese ballerina May Nagahisa. Jeon reportedly secured an audition with the company thanks to Kim's active recommendation.

Ballet dancer Jeon Min-chul (left) and Kim Soo-min after winning at the Youth America Grand Prix (Korea National University of Arts)

Jeon gained attention last year by winning pas deux of the classical dance category at the Youth America Grand Prix, an international youth ballet and contemporary dance competition and scholarship program. Recently, he performed in "Ballet Layer" and "Life of Ballerio" during the Korea Ballet Festival in June.

In 2017, Jeon at age 13 appeared on SBS's talent show "Finding Genius" during the selection process for the lead role in the musical "Billy Elliot." Although he was not chosen due to his tall height, his determination to pursue dance despite his father's opposition left a strong impression on viewers.

Jeon will perform at the "Ballet Stars Gala" at Seongnam Arts Center on Saturday and is scheduled to appear at the Mapo Arts Center's M Ballet Series on Aug. 28.

Jeon Min-chul appeared on SBS's program "Finding Genius" (SBS, screen capture from SBS' "Finding Genius")