CultureReview
Have You Ever Seen Ballet?Not your average recital
Kye Eun-jean  |  kej408@yonsei.ac.kr
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승인 2010.10.29  23:14:06
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HAVE YOU ever heard the sound of a ballerina’s toe-shoes hit the floor? Seen the expressions and tensed muscles of a ballerino when he prepares to pirouette? At the Monday Ballet Recital by Lee Won-kook, you can see each breath and movement of the dancers astonishingly up close.

   

Dynamic scene from Carmen

   
 

A serenade to the public

   Think of the performance as finger food for the public. Monday Ballet Recital gives you a taste of what ballet is like by serving a delectable array of scenes from Swan Lake to Giselle, from classical ballet to more modern types of ballet. Peppered in between are friendly introductions to each of the works and the ballet genre in general. “What we are trying to do here is show that ballet is not a difficult performance.” says Lee Won-kook(Art Director).
   And succeed they do. People usually feel uncomfortable with the formality of ballet performances, but Lee makes onlookers enthusiastic about ballet as the performance unfolds. Dancers (though only two) talk to the audience; viewers learn to shout “Bravo!” and clap whenever they think the dancer’s move is superb. In another intermission, a ballerina teaches the audience how to mime sentences like “I swear my love for you” and “You are beautiful.” This may seem like nothing, but receiving simple introductions that show how ballet can be as entertaining as plays or musicals allows the audience to shake off the pressure of being at a ballet performance.
   That the dance floor is placed right in front of the audience also makes the performances fascinating to watch. At the Monday Ballet Recital, onlookers can see the slight trembling as the dancers stand on their toes, the spray of perspiration when they leap, and the rough breaths they take after they gracefully end their dance.
   The physical intimacy, in fact, may take some time getting used to. A first timer might feel uncomfortable because the dancers are so close to the audience -- drops of perspiration fall near them as the dancers spin and leap around the stage; motions that might look effortlessly graceful from afar reveal, on a closer look, tautly drawn muscles and the ballerinas’ great concentration. Dancers, too, have to be extra careful. In performances where the stage is far away from the audience, little mistakes might go unnoticed, but at the Monday Ballet Recital, the audience can see even the smallest of flaws.

   

Pas de deux from Swan Lake

   
 

From classic to contemporary ballet


   The performance starts off with snippets of classic ballet, such as a duet between a swan princess and a human prince in Swan Lake, or a scene from Carmen, in which Carmen toys with Jose’s feelings for her. These first two performances show the most classic type of ballet most people expect. (Note that the performance composition can be slightly different each week).
   Up to this point it is easy to be reminded of traditional ballet. However, the Monday Ballet Recital moves on to quite different performances. The production includes contemporary numbers like All that Jazz, in which dancers show off the unexpectedly “sexy” side of ballerinas.
   Another interesting scene is from Don Quixote, where Lee himself performs highly elaborate moves by lifting his partner up and twirling her in midair. “The lifting needed to be altered from the original choreography because the ceiling was not high enough,” says Choi Ye-won(Ballerina, Lee Won-kook Ballet). “Even though the moves are carefully coordinated, sometimes ballerinas accidentally bump their heads on the ceiling during lifting.” The lift-spin moves border on the acrobatic, leaving the audience in awe. As the performance goes on, it is hard not to find yourself shouting “Bravo!”

*                       *                     *

   The performance is not as flamboyant or spectacular as those produced by major dance companies. But at the Monday Ballet Recital by Lee Won-kook, each performance is special because you can see the amount of training and pure physical effort that the ballet dancers put into each move. It is like seeing a swan from underwater, graceful looking but toiling to control each breath.

   

Art Director Lee Won-kook performing Onghyeya

   
 

Box1: Interview with Lee Won-kook(Art director)
Q: Why did you decide to create such an audience-friendly performance?
A: I wanted to break the misconception that ballet is expensive and difficult to understand. That was one of the main reasons we decided to perform at Daehangno. Being at Daehangno helps us approach the wider public because the area is so rich in cultural entertainment. The fact that most theaters are closed on Mondays also helps us reach out to more people.

Q: You used to be the main star of major productions. How is dancing at a small theater different from your prior experiences like being the lead dancer of numerous dance companies and performances such as Don Quixote, The Nutcracker, and Giselle?
A: I prefer the theater we now perform in because the dancers can interact and connect with the audience better. We can see the faces of each audience and make eye contact with them, which all makes the performance so much more intimate. Also, by performing at Daehangno, we can easily appeal to people who are not used to appreciating ballet performances.

Q: What is your favorite part of the performance?
A: I am most attached to Onghyeya, which is a ballet performance that we dance to the traditional Korean song of the same name. I usually place Onghyeya at the encore because it helps us loosen up a bit and connect with the audience even more. The unique choreography is also a reason for my affection for the song.
The Don Quixote performance is also one of my favorites because I have been dancing to the work for 24 years. It is one of the most accomplished productions that we perform at our show.

Box2 : Monday Ballet Recital by Lee Won-kook
Genre : Dance, ballet
Place :Daehangno, Sungkyun Theater
Running Date : Open run (8:00~9:30pm)
Price : 20,000 (14,000 for university students)

 
   
 
   
 
 
 
   
 

 

  

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