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WorldTies: Festival Gives Access to Classical Ballet

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  • Damian J. Anderson
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    Message 1 of 1 , Jun 4, 2004
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          Hankooki.com > Korea Times > Arts & Living

       Festival Gives Access to Classical Ballet

      By Lee Yong-sung
      Staff Reporter

      Multinational ballerinas of the Universal Ballet Company (UBC) have come out of the ballet theater to get closer to the general public who otherwise would have little chance to come into contact with classical ballet.

      On the evening of May 2, Sunday, people gathered around the special outdoor stage in front of Little Angels Performing Arts Center, East Seoul, the home of a Seoul-based world class ballet company. Many of the spectators seemed to be passers-by who has dropped by on their way to the nearby Children's Grand Park. Ballet music, sounding quite out of place in the vicinity of the busy amusement park, also attracted street vendors and even police officers on patrol.

      What was happening was a free outdoor ballet festival organized by the ballet company, in which top class ballerinas of the troupe show off graceful feats of ballet during weekends until May 23. There have been some free outdoor festivals hosted by major local performing arts venues in the past, including those of Seoul Arts Center and Sejong Center for the Performing Arts, but none have been dedicated to dance performances until now.

      ''Classical Ballet here has developed to a world-class level over the past 20 years,'' Julia Moon, prima ballerina-turned-UBC general director, told The Korea Times when asked why she thought such an event was needed. ''Now it is time to consider world-class audiences, in terms of both quantity and quality. This is why I came up with the idea.''

      When compared to other genres in the performing arts, dance performances have had the reputation of being ''too classy and elegant an art form to be enjoyed by the general public'' in Korea. According to research conducted by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism last year, the average frequency per capita for a visit to a ballet theater was reported to be 0.01 times per year, while it was more than 5 for going to see films.

      The Spring Ballet Festival is the result of efforts to get through a disappointing period that has been agonizing the local ballet scene. ''It is good that I don't need to care much about my boy during the performance,'' Lim Eun-ju, a housewife who brought her three-year-old son, said.

      At the sight of such exhilarating ballet movements, many of the audience seemed stiff and uncomfortable at first, as if not sure when to cheer or clap. However, they soon clapped wildly, shouting ''bravo!'' after the host explained that, in contrast to classical concerts or recitals, the audience is welcomed to applaud whenever they feel like it during ballet performances.

      The festival, which began on May 1, will feature every member of the UBC in the presentation of the beautiful and exhilarating world of classical ballet under different themes during weekends until May 23.

      More than a thousand people gathered to join the event during the first two days of performances. Kang Yena, Hwang Hye-min and Lim Hye-kyung, stars of the ballet company, all of whom had played Nikiya in La Bayadere last March, have also performed with the rest of the members.

      Following the first two days of performances entitled ''Animals and Fairy Tale Characters from Ballet Performances,'' the second set of performances in the series, ''Asia in Ballet,'' will be at 6 p.m. this coming Saturday and Sunday and will feature Kang Yena and Hwang Jae-won. The three-week series (there was no performance on the second weekend) will end on May 23 as the troupe present highlights from classical and neo-classical ballet masterpieces including ''The Sleeping Beauty'' and ''The Rose Adagio.''

      At 8 p.m. after the shows, public screenings of the troupe's performances are also held in the same location. This Friday, UBC's ''Giselle,'' a well-loved, romantic ballet score, will be projected onto a large screen, to be followed by ''Simchong'' and ''Don Quixote'' on May 15 and 21, respectively.


      05-12-2004 20:18

      Hundreds are gathered at a special outdoor stage near Little Angels Performing Arts Center in eastern Seoul, to watch a free ballet performance presented by the Universal Ballet Company on May 1.

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