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Korean National Ballet presents 'Mata Hari,' 'Giselle' at the annual ballet festival.

To brighten up the annual ballet festival, the Korean National Ballet will present two pieces ? "Mata Hari" for two days on June 18 and 19, and "Giselle" on June 22 and 23.

"Mata Hari" is a ballet based on the true story of a Dutch dancer who was executed for espionage during World War I. The Stuttgart Ballet premiered the dance piece in 1993 by choreographer Renato Zanella. He completely recreated his 1993 ballet for the Korean National Ballet last year. The national ballet company's Principal Dancers, Kim Ji-young and Lee Jae-woo, will alternate the ballet's title characters with Shin Seung-won and Park Jong-seok.

"The ballet is a story ballet in a neo-classical style, inspired from the true story of Mata Hari. Choreographer Renato Zanella was very much fascinated by Mata Hari's earnest zeal to be a dancer. So the ballet focuses on her life, questing for dance, love and strength. It tells this well-known figure's dramatic life in new dimensional perspectives, with Shostakovich's music," the national ballet company's CEO and Artistic Director Kang Sue-jin explained about the ballet during an interview with The Korea Times earlier this week.

"Giselle" is one of the world's most popular romantic ballets. The original ballet, world-premiered in 1841 in Paris, was choreographed by Jean Coralli and Jules Perrot, based on Theophile Gautier's writing and Adolphe Adam's music scores. The Korean National Ballet presents this timeless ballet with choreography by renowned French choreographer Patrice Bart.

The national ballet company's Kim Ji-young, Park Seul-ki and Sim Hyun-hee will dance the role of Giselle, while Lee Jae-woo, Kim Ki-wan and Heo Seo-myeong will play Giselle's lover Duke Albrecht.

"Giselle" on June 23 will be a very special show, as the national ballet's beloved prima ballerina Kim Ji-young, 40, will have her last stage performance before she retires from the company. Kim joined the ballet over two decades ago in 1997.

During the time, Kim joined the Dutch National Ballet in 2002 and became the principal dancer there, yet she returned to the Korean National Ballet in 2009. After she leaves the ballet company, she will teach at Kyung Hee University in Seoul.

As the national ballet company's "Giselle" is already sold out, only seats with limited view will be available on the days of each performance at the ticketing office of the Opera Theater, Seoul Arts Center.

For the Korean National Ballet, sold-out performances are nothing new. Quite often recently, its shows are being sold out, reflecting the ballet company's popularity. Part of the reason behind such popularity lies in the ballet troupe's CEO Kang Sue-jin. She took the helm of the national ballet company in early 2014, and it's her sixth year now.

She herself is a legendary ballerina, who rewrote history for Asian ballet dancers while she was a prima ballerina at the Stuttgart Ballet. She was the first Korean ballerina to win the prestigious international competition Prix de Lausanne in 1985 and the first Asian recipient of the Best Female Ballerina Award at the Prix Benois de la Danse in 1999, and many other honors followed for her relentless dedication to ballet.

"What I have emphasized at the Korean National Ballet is to expand its ballet repertoire; classic ballet is, and will be, the fundamental foundation to all ballet companies, yet now we need to embrace the new and modern sides of ballet to further grow," Kang said.

"Each season, we start with a classic ballet, followed by a neo-classical ballet and contemporary pieces, and end with classic ballet programs. These various ballet performances have developed and strengthened our dancers to become much more versatile and mature. It is a great joy for me to see the dancers grow, develop and enjoy their newly expanded ballet worlds," she added with a big smile.

She herself is a legendary ballerina, who rewrote history for Asian ballet dancers while she was a prima ballerina at the Stuttgart Ballet. She was the first Korean ballerina to win the prestigious international competition Prix de Lausanne in 1985 and the first Asian recipient of the Best Female Ballerina Award at the Prix Benois de la Danse in 1999, and many other honors followed for her relentless dedication to ballet.

"What I have emphasized at the Korean National Ballet is to expand its ballet repertoire; classic ballet is, and will be, the fundamental foundation to all ballet companies, yet now we need to embrace the new and modern sides of ballet to further grow," Kang said.

"Each season, we start with a classic ballet, followed by a neo-classical ballet and contemporary pieces, and end with classic ballet programs. These various ballet performances have developed and strengthened our dancers to become much more versatile and mature. It is a great joy for me to see the dancers grow, develop and enjoy their newly expanded ballet worlds," she added with a big smile.

Kang hopes she could contribute to the expansion of ballet audiences in the nation. She also recommends the public to learn ballet themselves, if interested enough, hoping the beauty of ballet is more widely accepted by Korean audiences.

"Even though it's physically challenging, ballet is so beautiful. It can make people healthy, as it helps them to stand up in a straight posture. People can also experience flow during ballet, as they solely focus on their body movement and music, and that will make them happy," she said, smiling.
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Publication:The Korea Times News (Seoul, Korea)
Date:Jun 13, 2019
Words:1017
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