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Monthlong ballet fest of dance spectacles from classics to hit drama series

By Hwang Dong-hee

Published : May 24, 2023 - 18:56

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"Writer and Speaker 2" by Won Hey-in Ballet Project (BaFeKo)

A series of ballet performances from classics to new creative works inspired by Korean literature and hit Spanish TV drama series “Money Heist” are set to be staged next month.

Under the theme of “Face the Times in Ballet,” the 13th edition of Ballet Festival Korea will showcase 11 productions by both established and emerging dancers at the Seoul Arts Center from June 8-25, the organizing committee announced during a press conference on Tuesday.

The Universal Ballet is scheduled to kick off the festival with “Swan Lake” at SAC’s Opera Theater from June 9-11. All seats sold out four weeks ahead of the performances.

The highlight of the UBC production, based on choreography by Marius Petipa, is the lakeside scene at night featuring a group of 24 swan dancers. The company added black swans to create a stark contrast between the white and black, highlighting the aesthetic of formation, a UBC official said.

"Swan Lake" by Universal Ballet (BaFeKo)
"Clara Schumann" by Seoul Ballet Theatre (BaFeKo)

Four productions are to be performed at the CJ Towol Theater.

The Seoul Ballet Theatre will present “Clara Schumann” on June 10-11.

Choreographed by James Jeon, honorary artistic director of SBT, the ballet depicts the life, music and love of the Schumann couple and Johannes Brahms. Accompanied by a piano quartet, 17 dancers will grace the stage.

“The First Game -- Uno Dos Tres Cuatro” by Yoon Jeonil Dance Emotion, scheduled for June 10-11, pays homage to the hit Spanish drama series “Money Heist.”

The ballet portrays a fierce battle between 10 male dancers fighting over a bag of money. Choreographer Yoon aims to present a powerful and dynamic performance by incorporating a trampoline to facilitate various aerial movements.

The Gwangju City Ballet has been specially invited to the festival to present its “Don Quixote” choreographed by Krzysztof Nowogrodzki, from June 24-26.

A special performance of “Ballet Odyssey” will also be held June 16-17.

Starting with court ballet of the 16th century, the show will follow the history of ballet through the romantic, classical, neo-classical and contemporary periods.

Director Julia Moon from UBC will give a commentary on each trend with a live performance by junior dancers in the first act and professional dancers in the second act.

“Sonagi” choreographed by Yang Young-eun of Beyond Ballet (BaFeKo) “Sonagi” choreographed by Yang Young-eun of Beyond Ballet (BaFeKo)

Six productions by emerging Korean choreographers will be performed as a double bill at the Jayu Theater. Among them, "Curtain Call,” “Remember” and “Sonagi” are premiering works.

“Curtain Call,” choreographed by Ryu Hoi-woong, explores the decisions individuals make, whether significant or trivial, in their lives. Dancers will choose an instrument and express the sound through movements.

“Remember” by NXXT Floor, choreographed by Shin Hyun-ji, is based on the true story of a couple separated between North and South Korea. The husband was conscripted only seven months after their marriage, and the couple briefly reunited in 2015, 65 years later, during a crossborder reunion event.

The performance will be accompanied by haegeum -- a Korean stringed instrument -- and percussion, lending the piece a traditional vibe. A pansori singer accompanies on stage for the storyline.

“Sonagi,” choreographed by Yang Young-eun of Beyond Ballet, draws inspiration from a Korean short story written by Hwang Sun-won. “Sonagi,” or “Rain Shower,” tells a story of innocent adolescent love between a country boy and city girl.

Artistic director Park In-ja (fifth from left) poses with directors and choreographers from ballet companies for the 13th edition of Ballet Festival Korea, after a press conference held at Seoul Arts Center on Tuesday. (BaFeKo) Artistic director Park In-ja (fifth from left) poses with directors and choreographers from ballet companies for the 13th edition of Ballet Festival Korea, after a press conference held at Seoul Arts Center on Tuesday. (BaFeKo)

“Many creative ballet productions have been choreographed and performed recently,” said Park In-ja, the artistic director of the Ballet Festival Korea. “We hope to explore the values of different eras through ballet pieces -- thus, ‘facing the era in ballet.’”

Park added that a growing number of new productions are being submitted for the festival each year, with this year seeing 16 submissions, and expressed hopes that the festival would serve as a platform for producing new emerging choreographers.