Ballet Season Noted for Its Modern Dance Influences

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Ballet Season Noted for Its Modern Dance Influences

Now that the winter doldrums have passed and spring is peering around the corner, March will be host to many choreography festivals and performances by well-known dance companies.

Dance companies in Korea are busy preparing for their annual performance season, and ballet companies are no exception. This year, the Universal Ballet Company and the Seoul Ballet Theater will present interesting new works in their spring seasons, and the featured works of the two companies reveal a common thread in today's ballet scene: a trend toward contemporary dance.

The Universal Ballet Company, one of the best classical ballet companies in Korea, is currently reforming its traditional repertoire to include modern ballet works. According to its artistic director, Oleg Vinogradov, the company will continue to focus on experimental choreography. One such project will be to transform the classic "Romeo and Juliet," usually performed in a mime style, into a more theatrical rendition. The company is also developing contemporary ballet works to be performed at the opening ceremony of the 2002 World Cup games. This season, half of the company's repertoire, along with the works planned for the 2002 celebration, will be contemporary ballet works.

The upcoming performances will showcase the Universal Ballet Company's new direction, and this season's repertoire will include choreography by J. P. Commelin and Liu Bing-xian. Commelin's work, set to music by Mozart, is a splendid piece admiring four virtues - courage, sensibility, trust and love - and consists of dynamic group dancing. Liu, who choreographed a piece to "Piano Concerto No. 2 in D Minor, op. 23" by Edward MacDowell, interprets the music into passionate body movement reminiscent of raging waves in a wild storm. Some parts of the work though are quite soft and lyrical, which contrasts well with the passionate sections.

The Seoul Ballet Theater, Korea's only professional modern ballet troupe, will present a newly completed work by Korean choreographer James Jeon. "The Four Seasons," a ballet project launched by Mr. Jeon in 1996, is a masterpiece expressing an oriental philosophy of the transmigration of souls. The 50 minute piece compares the human life cycle to the change in seasons.

There are four individual pieces, combined to express a complete perspective of human life. "There is no specific plot in the work, but an oriental view of life is contained in each movement to describe excitement, joy and separation in one's life and adaptation to such changes," Mr. Jeon explained.

The Universal Ballet Company will perform at the Little Angels Performing Arts Center beginning Wednesday through Friday, and the Seoul Ballet Theater will perform at the LG Arts Center from March 27 to March 29.

Performances by the Universal Ballet Company begin at 7:30 p.m. Ticket costs range from 10,000 won ($8) to 40,000 won, and a 50 percent discount is offered to students. For reservations, call Ticketlink at 02-1588-7890 (English service available).

Performances by Seoul Ballet Theater begin at 8 pm. Ticket costs range from 20,000 won to 40,000 won. For more information, call LG Arts Center at 02-2005- 0114 (English service available).

by Park So-young

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