She danced across the stage, virtually in flight, toes barely touching the ground, head upturned and her long pale blue silk dress flowing wing-like behind her. The smile on her face reveals the joy, confidence, and connection that Sungha Hong has experienced during her exchange year at OSU. She was dancing a solo performance of “Arrival” – a fitting name for this poised young woman from Seoul, South Korea who came to study exercise and sport science in the College of Health and Human Sciences. Sungha, who believes you can literally “dance your stress away” wants to become a dance therapist to help people heal physical and emotional injuries. “Mixing dance, music and movement can build strength to prevent injuries and help with rehabilitation from a variety of injuries. Even someone who cannot stand because of injuries can benefit from movement to music,” she explains. Sungha says she would enjoy the individual attention to each person – choosing the right kind of music, dance and movement. It’s a unique niche that she hopes to fill after finishing her last year of college at Yonsei University in Seoul.
Sungha’s performance was choreographed by Carol Soleau who was presenting her 31st Annual Oregon Dance Concert featuring OSU students. Sungha also joined her classmates for the jazz performance “Night of the Dancing Flame” and for the quirky final number “Double Vision.”
According to Carol, “Sungha has an uncanny feel for intuitively choosing the right moves to compliment the music. With her background in both traditional ballet and Korean dance, she brought new movements and images of nature that I never knew about. She is a joy to work with.”
“Dance gives her a context for relating to ideas discussed in class,” says associate professor Vicki Ebbeck. “It’s always a strength when students have practical experience they can draw upon and I suspect that Sungha has learned through dance qualities such as persistence and discipline that serve her well with her studies.”
Sungha says people in the US are “more friendly than I expected. Everyone smiles and makes eye contact, and is so helpful.” This was a comfort to her parents who sent their daughter to the US for the first time. Sungjin, Sungha’s older brother is a physical therapist and her younger sister Hayoung is in high school. Before she returns home to her family, this summer, Sungha will travel on a missionary trip with her new found friends from the Newman Center on campus.