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Benois de la Danse winner Kang Mi-sun comes back with 'Don Quixote'

By Hwang Dong-hee

Published : Sept. 25, 2023 - 15:40

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Dancers Kang Mi-sun and Konstantin Novoselov perform in Dancers Kang Mi-sun and Konstantin Novoselov perform in "Don Quixote." (Universal Ballet)

This year’s Benois de la Danse winner, Kang Mi-sun, is set to perform the classic ballet “Don Quixote” at the Seoul Arts Center’s Opera Theater next month.

Kang, a principal dancer at Universal Ballet in Seoul, clinched the top prize at the prestigious Benois de la Danse, an esteemed annual ballet competition held in Moscow. Kang is the fifth Korean national to win the prize.

The upcoming performance is Kang's return to the stage with a full-length production at the Universal Ballet, following her win.

The ballet “Don Quixote” is loosely based on the novel “Don Quixote de la Mancha” by Spanish writer Miguel de Cervantes. It was choreographed by Marius Petipa and then revised by Alexander Gorsky.

In contrast to the original narrative that primary focuses on the adventures of Don Quixote, the ballet production follows the endearing love story between Kitri, the beautiful daughter of a tavern owner, and Basil, a witty but poor young barber. Don Quixote appears as their helpful ally.

“Don Quixote” (Universal Ballet) “Don Quixote” (Universal Ballet)

The piece is best known for its stage and costumes infused with the vibrant energy of the Mediterranean, flamboyant Spanish toreadors’ dance by male dancers and Spanish dance elements like seguidilla and fandango. It incorporates elements of humor-filled pantomime, a briskly paced storyline, and a vibrant cast of characters that captivate the audience.

Standout scenes include Act 1, where Kitri performs quick turns to Spanish music while wielding castanets, and leaps up for the Plisetskaya head kick, in which her head and raised arms arch back to reach the other foot. In Act 3, Kitri and Basil perform a grand pas de duex at their fancy wedding.

Kang and her colleague and husband, Konstantin Novoselov, will perform together as Kitri and Basil on Oct. 6 and Oct. 8. Additionally, Son You-hee and Rhee Hyon-jun, Elizaveta Cheprasova and Lee Dong-tak, and Hong Hyang-gee and Kang Min-woo will perform as Kitri and Basil for the three other performances, on Oct. 7 and 8.

Providing the musical accompaniment is the Korea Coop Orchestra, under the baton of conductor Kim Kwang-hyun.