The Korea Herald


Washington Ballet’s Lee Eun-won to star in ballet inspired by independence activist An Jung-geun

By Hwang Dong-hee

Published : July 28, 2023 - 19:43

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"An Jung-geun: A Dance in the Heaven" (Mapo Art Center)

As Liberation Day approaches, a creative ballet performance titled "An Jung-geun: A Dance in the Heaven" is scheduled to take place at the Mapo Art Center on Aug. 11-12.

The performance draws its inspiration from the last words of An, a Korean independence activist who, moments before his execution at Lushun Prison in China in March 1910, declared, “When the day comes that I hear of Korea’s independence, I will dance and shout ‘Hurrah!’”

The story of An’s life and his last moments have been adapted into many films, musicals and plays. He was convicted of assassinating Hirobumi Ito, a former four-term prime minister of Japan and the first resident-general of Korea during Japanese colonial rule.

The ballet piece, choreographed in 2015 by Moon Byung-nam, head of M Ballet Company, portrays the significant moments in An’s life and his philosophy. The independence movement is depicted through the dynamic movement of the male group dancers, and the highlight of the show is An’s dance with his wife in a dream, right before his execution, in a delicate pas de deux.

Lee Dong-hoon (left) and Lee Eun-won (Mapo Art Center) Lee Dong-hoon (left) and Lee Eun-won (Mapo Art Center)

Lee Dong-hoon from Tulsa Ballet in Oklahoma and Lee Eun-won from Washington Ballet will perform as An and his wife, Kim, respectively. Both are former principal dancers of the Korean National Ballet.

The production also features other talented dancers, including Yun Byul, a former member of the National Ballet of Uruguay; Kim Soon-jung, a dance professor who has been part of the ballet piece since its premiere; and Kim Hee-rae and Jin You-jung from M Ballet Company.

Since its premiere in 2015, the piece has evolved into a 70-minute repertoire piece, leading to its selection as the opening piece for the Ballet Festival Korea in 2022 after its successful run at the Seoul Arts Center in 2021. The production has been sold out for two consecutive years, according to the Mapo Art Center.