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KNB to perform its re-choreographed 'Le Corsaire' in Switzerland, Germany

By Hwang Dong-hee

Published : April 27, 2023 - 17:33

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A scene from the ballet A scene from the ballet "Le Corsaire" (Korean National Ballet)

The Korean National Ballet is set to perform in Switzerland and Germany with its own rechoreographed version of the classical ballet “Le Corsaire” (The Pirate) in May.

The company will perform at the Theatre de Beaulieu in Lausanne, Switzerland, on May 8 and at the Hessian State Theatre of Wiesbaden in Germany on May 11-12.

The performances are organized to commemorate diplomatic relations between Korea and the two countries – the 60th anniversary for Switzerland, and the 140th anniversary for Germany. In Germany, the company is participating in the 2023 International May Festival, one of the most distinguished international theater festivals.

“Le Corsaire” by Russian ballet master Marius Petipa is a three-act ballet based on Lord Byron’s poem of the same title. The story revolves around a dashing pirate named Conrad and his crew on a mission to rescue Conrad’s love Medora, who is held captive as a slave.

The classical ballet was rechoreographed by KNB’s soloist-choreographer Song Jung-bin and premiered in 2020.

Song adapted the three acts into a two-act production, changing the characters and setting to reflect a contemporary perspective. Medora is portrayed as a beautiful island girl rather than a slave, and Gulnara -- originally depicted as a harem slave -- is transformed into a high priestess.

In contrast to Petipa’s tragic ending with a shipwreck, Song’s version has a happy ending, as Medora and Conrad overcome hardships and set off on a new adventure.

A scene from the ballet A scene from the ballet "Le Corsaire" (Korean National Ballet)
A scene from the ballet A scene from the ballet "Le Corsaire" (Korean National Ballet)

“I believe maintaining the essence of classical choreography while reflecting contemporary changes is KNB’s unique style and strength,” said Song during an interview in early April, where he introduced his latest version of “Don Quixote.”

Kang Sue-jin, the artistic director of KNB, said, “Having our own repertoire is important, and the invitation (from Germany) shows that the direction KNB is pursuing is not in vain. They wanted a classical piece that would resonate with a universal audience and we have the exact piece.”