Sae Eun Park becomes an etoile at the Paris Opera

The Paris Opera Ballet is literally is the foundation of ballet, and while the Paris Opera Ballet reigns as the codifier of classical ballet, it sometimes remains behind the times. But, POB’s Director, Aurelie Dupont, and the director of Paris Opera, Alexander Neef, are making changes. Sae Eun Park, from South Korea, is the first Asian dancer to be named an etoile, a position created in 1669 for the ballet’s most esteemed dancers. Ludmila Pagliero, became the first Latin American étoile in 2012.

Miss Park was named Etoile on June 10th right after the opening night standing ovation for her performance in “Romeo and Juliet.”

“At the suggestion of Aurélie Dupont, dance director, I have the immense pleasure of naming Sae Eun Park a star dancer. We have all had the pleasure of seeing a magnificent dancer tonight who showed us the extent of her talent “, he declared before the announcement, received with an ovation from the public at the Bastille Opera.”

-Alexander Neef

But this dancer was destined for great things. At 17, she won the Prix de Lausanne and the Gold Medal at Varna. She then went to ABT STUCO for a year before going back to the Korean National Ballet where she rose to soloist quickly. Miss Park then joined the Paris Opera Ballet in 2011 as a corps de ballet dancer. In 2013, she was promoted to corphée where she received the prix de circle carpeaux, and was the first Korean to win the award. In 2014 she became a sujet. In 2014, she premiered as Naila in Jean-Guillaume Bart’s La Source, and became the first Asian dancer to perform a lead role in the Paris Opera’s History. In 2017, Miss Park was named premier danseuse, the second-highest rank in the company. The following year in 2018, she won the prestigious Prix Benois de la Danse for her performance in Balanchine’s Diamonds. She is the fourth Korean to win this prestigious award.