Unification News for April 2003

Universal Ballet in Paris

Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet was performed on stage in Paris by Korean dancers. Universal Ballet's rendition expressed the conflict between two families with dynamic group dancing and the two lovers' heartrending passion was expressed beautifully. The performance lasted about two and a half hours. Pairs of males and females dressed in jeans gave the medieval love story a contemporary touch. They brought the evening to a close by descending from the stage to the audience with lit candles.

The briefest though intense wait for the reaction of the audience was instantaneously terminated by thunderous applause. The audience in the front row began to stamp their feet for the first curtain call. By the time all soloists and members of the corps de ballet had emerged for the third curtain call, the Palais des Sports was completely filled with the clapping of hands and the stamping of feet.

Paris is the Mecca of ballet. Universal Ballet's debut in Paris was successful. In early March, the company had performed in Tours and Cannes, and the dancers were elated to finally arrive in Paris. Some two thousand seats had been filled, with ninety percent of paid tickets during the performances of Romeo and Juliet from the 14th to the 16th.

Dynamic group dancing and fierce fighting scenes captured the audience. Love was expressed by the performers who played the roles of Romeo and Juliet with their body language, leaving deep impressions on their Parisian audience. Their magnificent costumes and props became the talk of the town. Some said that they were considering the sentiment of the Middle Ages "too much". However, most of critics said that the sentiment of the Middle Ages was successfully expressed by Asians through classical ballet in spite of the fact that people talk about crisis classical ballet faces in general.

Yannick Stefani (48), a former principal dancer at the Paris Opera Ballet said, "The dancers' ability of expression was outstanding and their dynamic group dancing made perfect ensembles." He also said, "The interpretations of the dancers who played the roles of Romeo (Jae-Yong Ohm and Wang Yi) and Juliet (Seh-Yun Kim and Hye-Min Hwang) were really magnificent"

The dance composition made in 2002 of Oleg Vinogradov who had led the Kirov Ballet for twenty years captured the attention of Parisians. Well-known dance critique, René Sirvin highly praised the performance in the review in Le Figaro (March 18) "Mr. Vinogradov's dance composition brought out the feelings and heart more than performers' dancing technique." He highly evaluated the leading dancers' expression of feelings and Simon Pastukh's dignified stage setting, Galina Solovyeva's brilliant costumes.

Romeo and Juliet was followed by Shim Chung which opened on the 18th. Although it was quite a foreign theme for Parisians, about 1,700 audience watched it. It showed Parisians' increasing interest in Korean ballet for a short period of time.

One of the audiences, Natalie Ferrera (33) said, "the theme was much easier to understand than I thought. The sailors' dynamic dancing and Shim Chung's dancing like a feather were really impressive."

Julia H. Moon who is the head of the Universal Ballet played Shim Chung for sixteen years since the first Shim Chung performance in 1986. This Shim Chung performance was a new beginning of new Shim Chung. Nan-Hee Yu (21), who graduated from the Korean National University of Arts this year and joined Universal Ballet, made amazingly soft and light-hearted movements as Shim Chung. She successfully assimilated the Shim Chung role and captivated the audience. Julia said, "Korean dancers might not be the world's best in dancing and acting. However we have the charm to convey moving feelings to the audience breaking down the wall between the stage and the audience seats. I believe our Paris performance proved it to be true again."

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