was born in South Korea in 1964. She discovered her love of dance at the age of nine, after seeing a performance for the first time. She began to take dance classes and enrolled in an arts high school, from where she went on to study dance at the University of Seoul. After training there for five semesters, from 1983 to 1985, she decided to move abroad and study art in Kassel. “I was beginning to have doubts about dance and wanted to explore other things,” the dancer says today. A friend told her about the Folkwang University of the Arts, and although she hadn’t danced for a year and a half, she was accepted immediately. Nayoung Kim says that her “wonderful” teacher Malou Airaudo helped her to find joy in dancing again. “Her teaching opened up the world of dance for me.” In Essen, the Korean dancer also met Pina Bausch. “I immediately loved Pina’s work.” She would have loved to have joined the Tanztheater Wuppertal straight after graduating in 1990, but there was no place for her at the time. Instead, she auditioned for other companies, joining Christina Horvath’s Tanztheater in Kassel for two years. Then, Pina Bausch invited her to join the Folkwang Tanzstudio, where she danced for three years, from 1993 to 1996. During this time, she also performed in The Rite of Spring as a guest dancer. Nevertheless, her greatest wish was to become a permanent member of the Tanztheater Wuppertal. In 1996, her wish was granted. While still a student in Korea, she has had doubts about dance, disliking the uniformity of movement in ballet. With Pina Bausch, she felt like a person on stage. “We are different, that’s why we are beautiful” – this sentence by Pina Bausch meant a lot to her, says Nayoung Kim. “Pina was uncertain and asked many questions; I liked that.” As a dancer, she was able to express herself fully, not just through movement.
Her first new creation with Pina Bausch was The Window Washer – “a very important experience for me,” she says today. “The piece still has a special place in my heart.” She was involved in eight new productions by Pina Bausch and took over roles in many other pieces. Nayoung Kim also choreographs her own works, which have been performed in Berlin, Essen, Erfurt, and at the Seoul LG Arts Center.