The Korea Herald


Universal Ballet opens season with ‘Korea Emotion’

By Hwang Dong-hee

Published : Feb. 13, 2024 - 17:35

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Universal Ballet performs Universal Ballet performs "Korea Emotion." (Universal Ballet)

Universal Ballet, celebrating its 40th anniversary this year, kicks off its 2024 season with the original ballet production, "Korea Emotion," an artistic blend of traditional Korean music and ballet.

The neo-classical ballet with gugak crossover scores is to be staged Feb. 16-18, at the Universal Arts Center.

Choreographed by Universal Ballet Artistic Director Liu Bingxian, “Korea Emotion” is a collection of nine short episodes drawing inspiration from the complex and multi-faceted emotion called “jeong,” deeply rooted in Korean culture.

"Jeong" is often described as a feeling of affection or attachment that arises from a sense of emotional connection. Each episode focuses on different aspects of “jeong,” from the love and longing between man and woman to brotherly or sisterly affections.

Four pieces from “Korea Emotion” premiered in 2021 as part of the “Triple Bill,” featuring music from Ji Pyeong-kwon’s album “Daul Project 2nd” (2014) -- “Mirinaegil,” “'Moonlight Young,” “Bee Yeon” and “Gangwon, Jeongseon Arirang 2014.”

Notably, "Mirinaegil," a poignant pas de deux depicting a widow's yearning for her deceased husband, earned Universal Ballet's principal dancer Kang Mi-sun the prestigious title of best female dancer at the Benois de la Dance last year.

"Korea Emotion" was expanded to a 75-minute spectacle in 2023, adding five additional episodes: three episodes feature music from the traditional Korean music group Ensemble Sinawi -- “Rhapsody of the East Sea,” “Cold Rain” and “Dancing Moonlight” -- and two episodes are performed to music by German composer Peter Schindler.

Universal Ballet performs Universal Ballet performs "Korea Emotion." (Universal Ballet)

"Korea Emotion" unfolds as an exhibition of diverse dance ensembles and duets.

The opening piece, "Rhapsody of the East Sea," and the finale, "Gangwon, Jeongseon Arirang 2014," showcase vibrant and powerful group dances performed by 16 and 18 dancers, respectively.

In "Dancing Moonlight," four ballerinas move to the melodies of gayageum and ajaeng. In "Cold Rain," four ballerinos dance to the song inspired by a Joseon poem comparing the heart of a woman to cold rain.

Two female dancers perform “DasomeⅠ,” conveying the emotions of mother-daughter affection or sisterly love, while two male dancers perform “Dasome Ⅱ” to express brotherly love.

Emotionally charged pieces like "Mirinaegil," "Moonlight Young" and "Bee Yeon" capture the love and longing between couples.

The upcoming performance is a farewell stage for principal dancer Son You-hee. Son joined Universal Ballet in 2004, went on to join the Tulsa Ballet in the US in 2013 and returned to Universal Ballet in 2019.

Each episode of "Korea Emotions" features different dancers on different days of the performance. For more details, visit the official website.