The Korea Herald


For fans who missed ‘Nutcracker,’ ballet scene set for rebound in 2021

By Im Eun-byel

Published : Jan. 20, 2021 - 15:18

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“Le Corsaire” (Korea National Ballet) “Le Corsaire” (Korea National Ballet)

Korea’s recent third wave of COVID-19 had local ballet troupes cancel the iconic “Nutcracker” performances in December, for the first time in many years. Though the virus pandemic dealt a serious blow last year, ballet companies are gearing up for a rebound this year for fans awaiting a new beginning in 2021.

The highlight of this year’s seven offerings by The Korea National Ballet is “Jewels,” slated for Oct. 20-24 at the Seoul Arts Center. It will mark the Korean premiere of the three-act, plotless ballet by George Balanchine, who was inspired by the artistry of jewelry designer Claude Arpels of famed Van Cleef & Arpels jewelry.

Each act depicts the luster of emeralds, rubies and diamonds, accompanied by the music of Faure, Stravinsky and Tchaikovsky, respectively.

From March 24 to March 28, the troupe will present “Le Corsaire,” a Marius Petipa ballet production, that has been rechoreographed by the KNB soloist Song Jung-bin. This will be followed by the extravagant “La Bayadere,” April 28 to May 2, featuring some 120 dancers and 200 costumes.

The state ballet company will also present “Heo Nan Seol Heon, Su Wol Kyung Hwa,” a 55-minute ballet piece inspired by the legendary female poet Heo Nanseolheon (1563–1589), choreographed by soloist Kang Hyo-hyung, May 22-23 at the National Theater of Korea.

Another program on the list is “The Taming of the Shrew” based on the Shakespeare comedy, slated for June 16-20. The two-act ballet was choreographed by John Cranko.

“Giselle” (Universal Ballet) “Giselle” (Universal Ballet)

Universal Ballet, another major ballet troupe here, will present “Don Quixote,” June 4-6 at the Seoul Arts Center. Based on the famous Spanish novel by Miguel de Cervantes, the ballet work features Spanish folk music and dances, along with classic ballet movements.

The ballet troupe will present “Giselle,” a classical ballet masterpiece, Oct. 26 to Nov. 1. Its chamber series, consisting of “Swan Lake” and “The Sleeping Beauty” -- the troupe’s much-beloved repertoires -- will go onstage Sept. 10-12 and 17-19 at the Jeongdong Theater.

Both ballet companies are to end the 2021 season with “The Nutcracker,” a classic Christmas repertoire.

The Korea National Ballet will perform the Yuri Grigorovich version of “The Nutcracker” created for the Bolshoi Ballet -- characterized by dramatic storytelling -- at the Seoul Arts Center, Dec. 16-26.

The Universal Ballet will present the “The Nutcracker” created by Oleg Vinogradov for the Mariinsky Ballet Company, at the Sejong Center for the Performing Arts, Dec. 18-30.

By Im Eun-byel (