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Ballet Festival Korea returns despite lack of funding

Dancers rehearse “Romeo and Julia,” a contemporary production created by Hue Young-soon. (Seoul Arts Center)
Dancers rehearse “Romeo and Julia,” a contemporary production created by Hue Young-soon. (Seoul Arts Center)


The 12th edition of Ballet Festival Korea will be held with 26 performances in June, the organizing committee said Tuesday, with Seoul Arts Center as the co-organizer.

Under the theme of “Open Up the New Ordinary Days,” the festival will showcase old and new ballet productions by both established and emerging dancers from June 9-29.

Some of the highlights include the opening performance, “Ahn Jung-geun, a Dance in the Heaven,” a 2015 production by M Ballet Company, which will take place June 9 and 10 at 7:30 p.m. at Seoul Arts Center.

The Universal Ballet will perform “Sleeping Beauty” on June 11 and 12, a repertoire that the ballet company is presenting for the first time since 2012.

“Romeo and Julia,” created by German-based contemporary ballet choreographer Hue Young-Soon will be performed by a project team that includes Yoon Jeon-il and Shin Seung-won, on June 23 and 24.

On June 28 and June 29, the Korean National Ballet will stage “Heo Nan Seol Heon - Su Wol Kyung Hwa,” a story of a prominent Korean poet in the mid-Joseon dynasty that premiered in 2017.

This year’s festival is more diverse thanks to the Seoul Arts Center, said Park In-ja, the festival artistic director.

“South Korea has become a cultural powerhouse but there are only a few theaters for ballet performances. I was shocked by the size of the funding -- 360 million won ($284,500), which has remained the same over the past 10 years,” Seoul Arts Center CEO Yoo In-taek said, adding that the SAC is supporting the festival with an additional 360 million won in funding, including 120 million won in venue rental fees.

“Seoul Arts Center is the only place for operas and ballets,” Yoo noted. “I came to that realization belatedly, unfortunately,” said Yoo, whose term expired in March after three years in office. Yoo will be stepping down soon as the new administration is expected to appoint a new CEO for the center.

Launched in 2011, the festival aims to appeal to a wider audience and provide dancers with more stage opportunities.

This year’s festival will introduce creative productions by new and emerging ballet choreographers and dancers, including Yoo Jang-il “Senseless Violence #1” and “Nothing” by Ham Do-youn.

As part of attempts to reach out to ballet fans outside Seoul, the festival will be holding gala performances in Chuncheon, in Gangwon Province and Jeju.

For more information, visit www.bafeko.com or www.sac.or.kr.  (gypark@heraldcorp.com)  
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