Ballet company inaugurates a farm system to help its aspiring dancers

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Ballet company inaugurates a farm system to help its aspiring dancers

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Dancers in the ballet “MINUS 7”

Korean ballet is going to get what one might call a minor league, similar to those found in professional baseball and football.
It is called UBC II and it will be inaugurated by the Universal Ballet Company in March. Julia H. Moon is the UBC’s general director.
There are many famous second ballet companies in the world but this is the first one in Korea.
American Ballet Theatre’s ABT Studio Company or Netherlands Dance Theater’s NDT are among the best known.
Second ballet companies in other countries are similar to junior ballet companies and consist of students who have just left high school and have not yet been admitted to the main ballet company. There has not been a second ballet company in Korea because most students go to university straight after high school graduation. “We will contribute to the extension of ballet through a niche market that professional ballet companies can’t reach,” said Baik Yeon-ok, the company’s artistic director.

Q. Why did you make the second ballet company?
A. We have two reasons: To manage the ballet company effectively and to train our dancers. The main ballet company consists of 60 dancers and 15 associate dancers. It’s too big to effectively respond to the public’s changing taste. On the other hand, UBC II consists of only 15 members and it can manage diverse repertories and experimental work. New members in a big ballet company hardly have opportunities to perform on the stage. Dancers should try their luck on the stage just as sports professionals enhance their skills with actual games.

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Baik Yeon-ok

Does it increase the chance of employment for graduating students?
There are more than 500 ballet students graduating every year, but less than 10 of them actually perform in professional ballet companies. Of course, 15 dancers is a small number, but it can make a good example for other ballet companies. And it will also be a good chance for the students to choose whether they pursue a dancing career or not.

What kinds of plans do you have?
UBC II will focus on contemporary ballet, while the main ballet company will concentrate on classical ballet. The first performance will be Ohad Naharin’s “MINUS 7.” The mission of UBC II is to develop a good relationship with the audience. We intend to visit provincial areas where people do not have as much chance to enjoy ballet performances and we will organize performances to suit companies’ taste. We will also perform for housewives at the cultural centers of department stores.

How can young dancers apply for auditions?
We will have the first audition on March 11. Contemporary dancers or those who majored in ballet and are aged between 18 and 26 can try out. We also aim to train dancers in different dance forms, whether it is ballet or contemporary dance.
We don’t provide a monthly salary. But they can receive compensation for their performances. They need to perform as often as possible for that reason. We will want the new ballet company to be competitive rather than to protect it from competition.


By Choi Min-woo JoongAng Ilbo jbiz91@joongang.co.kr
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