Three countries, three ballets

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Three countries, three ballets

Three dance companies that are pillars of ballet in their respective countries will be performing in Seoul over the next two weeks. All three, incidentally, have Korean ballerinas.

Stuttgart Ballet
Monday and Tuesday
Sejong Center for the Performing Arts, Main Theater
Launched in Germany in 1609, the Stuttgart Ballet rose to prominence under the guidance of choreographers and directors such as Jean-Georges Noverre (1759-1766), Filipo Taglioni (1824-1828), August Bruhl (1891) and Oskar Schlemmer (1916-1922). But what is today called the “Stuttgart Ballet miracle” began under the brilliant vision of John Cranko, who began directing the company in 1961. Cranko recruited young dancers from around the world, with whom he staged narrative ballets such as “Romeo and Juliet,” “The Taming of the Shrew” and “Carmen.”
“Onegin” will be the company’s third performance in Korea. Based on Pushkin’s novel “Eugene Onegin,” it was adapted for ballet by Pyotr Ilych Tchaikovsky’s brother, Modeste. Stuttgart first performed it almost 40 years ago.
The performance in Korea will feature Kang Sue-jin, one of Korea’s most internationally acclaimed ballerinas, in the leading role of Tatiana. Kang has “most confidently stepped into [ballerina Marcia] Haydee’s shoes,” writes Critical Dance magazine. Kang studied ballet in Korea and Monte Carlo; she joined Stuttgart Ballet in Germany at the age of 19, after she won the Prix de Lausanne.
Tickets are 50,000 won ($44) to 200,000 won. Call (02) 399-1114.

Kirov Ballet
Sejong Center for the Performing Arts, Main Theater
Oct. 29 to 31
At the age of 14, Yoo Ji-yun left Korea for Russia. Five years later, she became the first non-Russian to be accepted by the prestigious Kirov Ballet. Her debut was as Masha in “The Nutcracker”; she also performed in “Giselle” as Martha in 2001. She will be returning to Korea to take part in “Swan Lake” as one of the four princesses invited to the prince’s birthday party. This performance also marks the first time the Kirov Ballet and Kirov Orchestra will perform together in Korea, under the direction of Mikhail Agrest.
The Kirov Ballet is one of the most prestigious ballet companies in the world; its 250-year history has featured greats such as Leonid Jacobsen, Yuri Grigorovich and Konstantin Sergeyev. The staging chosen for “Swan Lake” is the 1895 choreography by Marius Ptipa, generally considered a more romantic staging then Yuri Grigorvich’s.
Tickets are 50,000 won to 200,000 won. Call (02) 518-7343.

Universal Ballet
Seoul Arts Center
Oct. 29 to Nov. 3
Korea’s Universal Ballet celebrates its 20th anniversary with a staging of “Shim Chung.” This Korean folk tale tells of a daughter’s filial piety towards her father. Her mother dies, her father goes blind, and they live in poverty; when the father discovers that a donation of rice to a temple may restore his sight, Shim Chung sells herself as a sacrifice to a ship about to set sail.
With Julia Moon as general director of Universal Ballet, the performance of this ancient Korean tale is in the tradition of classic Western ballet. This old Korean tale has recently gotten attention in the Western world during the Universal Ballet’s tour of the United States, which included the Kennedy Center Opera House and the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion in Los Angeles.
Tickets are 10,000 won to 100,000 won. Call (02) 2204-1041.

by Joe Yong-hee
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