By Arts Editor Doreen Jung. On stage she is the embodiment of grace, beauty, and lyrical movement. Coming to Vancouver to perform in the Royal Winnipeg Ballet’s Romeo & Juliet, Sophia Lee spoke with Today Media.
She confided about her love of ballet and shared the journey she took to become a professional ballerina.
Born in South Korea, Lee started ballet at age six and found that she loved to dance. When she was 12, Lee and her family moved to Langley, BC. Lee joined the Cameron Academy of Classical Dance where her dance experience was highlighted by her inspirational teachers and the friendships she forged with other dancers.
Encouraged by her teachers, Lee auditioned for the Royal Winnipeg Ballet School. At age 14 she was accepted into the school and moved to Winnipeg to continue her ballet training.
It was at the age of 17 that Lee realized that she wanted ballet for her career. “From then on I had a totally different mindset,” said Lee. “Before, it was fun and I really liked it. After I made my decision, I researched ballet a lot and I really worked hard on my training.”
With the rigorous physical training and the demanding schedule that a ballerina follows, a full commitment to dance is necessary. Lee attended a half day of school at the University of Winnipeg Collegiate for her academics and then devoted the rest of her day to dance.
“My weekly schedule would be dance in the morning, have lunch, shower, go to school for the afternoon, and then dance from 4 to 8 pm,” described Lee.
Lee graduated from the Royal Winnipeg Ballet School in 2010 and joined the RWB Aspirant Program. Dancers in the Aspirant Program study for one to two years while they make the transition from student to a company member. Lee was promoted after one year into the Corps de Ballet and then in 2013 she became a Soloist.
Speaking from the heart, she described her preparations for a show. “Every time I perform a different character, I want to develop it,” explains Lee. “Each time you perform a ballet, it gets better and better. Soon the steps are in your body. Once I am good with that, I really work on my acting, my expression, and my partnership with the other dancers.”
Lee is very excited to be returning to the west coast to perform in a leading role of RWB’s touring production of Romeo and Juliet.
“Juliet is such a great role,” said Lee enthusiastically. “It is technically demanding and stamina-wise, your body needs to be really strong. This is story ballet which I love. I always tell people that acting is one of my favourite things to do.”
She loves playing the role of Juliet as a young girl who goes through love, longing, and loss. Lee says that while the choreography of ballet is precise, she interprets her character by how she moves her eyes, her head, and her arms.
A rising star with the Royal Winnipeg Ballet, she has received countless accolades and rave reviews for her performances.
As a ballerina, Sophia Lee is living the dream. As a young woman, she still lives with discipline, hard work, and intense focus.
See Sophia perform on Feb 1st in:
Canada’s Royal Winnipeg Ballet’s
Romeo & Juliet RWB R+J Vancouver Release-F
The Queen Elizabeth Theatre
Jan. 30, 31, and Feb. 1 at 8 pm and Feb. 1 at 2 pm
Tickets: $29 to $89
More info: www.rwb.org