Alumni Highlight: Levi Kim
This past week I was able to interview recent Saklan graduate, and current Athenian student, Levi Kim. What sparked my interest in hearing from Levi was his recent performance in The Nutcracker. The conversation was so rich I needed to break it into two blog posts. This week’s post we hear from Levi about his ballet experience. In our next post we will talk about his transition from Saklan to Athenian.
How long have you been interested in and practicing ballet?
I’ve been doing ballet since I was three years old. It was a very intense activity to grow up doing, with the many hours of rehearsal and shows, but I enjoyed it nonetheless. Throughout the nearly twelve years I’ve danced, I’ve had many moments where I wanted to quit. While some people may see this as a bad thing, I try to focus on why I didn’t quit, instead of why I might have. I didn’t quit because I knew I would regret not continuing something that brought me so much joy and taught me so much about myself. Ballet may be very frustrating sometimes and can come off as a futile endeavor towards perfection, but it also brought me some of the greatest happiness of my life. While many people see ballet as boring and restrictive, I’ve tried to see it in the opposite way. I see ballet as a unique and beautiful way to convey stories through more abstract movements that allow people to create interpretations of beloved stories.
Can you talk a little about the role you had in The Nutcracker?
In this year’s Nutcracker, I played Drosselmeyer’s nephew/the prince. We started rehearsing the show back in October (though many people prepared for auditions months before then) and continued until the first week of December where we finally got to show all of our hard work off.
I understand it was a grueling schedule, can you share a little bit about it?
I rehearsed my role for 2-6 hours every Sunday until one week before our show when we rehearsed every day from Friday to the Sunday of the next week. That week was one of the greatest tests of my physical and mental endurance of my life. Practicing a show over and over again until it was perfect, only to perform it six more times for an audience was exhausting. Between balancing schoolwork, warm-ups, and the actual shows, I had to carefully choose what I needed to prioritize and what I could sacrifice. This taught me where I needed to focus my energy and what I was willing to give up in order to deliver the best performance that I could. Despite how grueling the description of rehearsals sounds, it was an amazing experience. After almost two years of not being able to perform on a stage, it was one of the greatest moments of my life. I really enjoyed working with so many talented people and improving my own dancing with them.
What did you learn about yourself now that you have finished the production?
Looking back at The Nutcracker after it’s all over, I realize that I’ve learned so many things about myself along the way. I’ve learned that I can make difficult decisions and move past them. I’ve learned that I can stay calm under high-stress situations. And I’ve learned that I’m capable of accomplishing what I put my mind to.
Thank you very much, Levi, for sharing your Nutcracker experience with me and the Saklan community.