Fairy tale of tragedy and redemption rises again

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Fairy tale of tragedy and redemption rises again

East meets West as Korean traditional dance is combined with classical ballet in the performance of “Shim Chung,” a Korean fairy tale about a girl who sacrifices her life for her blind father.
The latest interpretation of the story will be staged Thursday through Saturday at the National Museum of Korea in Yongsan as part of celebrations for the opening of the museum at its new location.
The show is choreographed by art director Oleg Vinogradov for Universal Ballet, Korea’s first private ballet company, which was established in 1984. “Shim Chung” was first staged in Korea during the 1986 Asian Games and again for the 1988 Seoul Olympics, drawing high praise.
The show has been constantly revised since its first performance, which was choreographed by art director Adrienne Dellas. This particular ballet has become well known overseas for its exotic elements ― dancers wear hanbok, or Korean traditional costume, rather than typical Tinkerbell ballet outfits. The stage setting is also unique with Korean elements such as pine trees and a Korean style pavilion. The mystical depiction of an undersea world is also entertaining.
“Shim Chung” features movements copied from Korean traditional dances including talchum (mask dance) as well as typical ballet routines. Such a fusion of styles has drawn an enthusiastic response, especially from international audiences.
From 1987, “Shim Chung” began touring Asian countries including Japan and Taiwan. It finally made it to New York in 2001 and Paris in 2003.
Although Korean dances do not seem to be an obvious match for a typical ballet, the reviews of Shim Chung have been unexpectedly positive. The audience gasps in admiration at many scenes such as the energetic group dances by men portraying the stormy sea sequence when the young woman named Shim Chung throws herself into the water to cure her father’s blindness. The scenes in the undersea world are highlighted by the romantic duo dance of Shim Chung and the sea prince. The dance of the sea fairies also adds vivid color to the stage. Shim Chung’s resurrection in a lotus flower is carried out with flamboyant dances. It is quite beautiful when Shim Chung searches for her father as she dances while wearing the costume of a Korean queen of the Joseon Dynasty.


by Choi Sun-young

The performance is at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday and Friday and 3:00 p.m. on Saturday. For more information, call 1544-5955 or visit cfnmk.or.kr
Tickets are priced from 20,000 won ($20) to 100,000 won. Call Ticketlink at 1588-7890 or Interpark at 1588-1555.
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