Poster for the Universal Ballet Company’s production of “Swan Lake”
By Do Je-hae
The Universal Ballet Company (UBC) will present Tchaikovsky’s “Swan Lake” at the Joburg Theatre in Johannesburg, South Africa, from Friday until March 18, the troupe said Monday.
Choreographed by UBC artistic director emeritus Oleg Vinogradov, the production is one of the events feting the 20th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Korea and South Africa. Vinogradov is the former head of the world-renowned Mariinsky Theater in St. Petersburg, Russia.
UBC’s first South African visit is the final stop of the company’s three-year world tour, which has seen it visit major theaters in Europe, North America, the Middle East and Asia.
“The head of the Joburg Theater invited our company after seeing a videotaped performance of our ‘Swan Lake’ production,” UBC director Lim So-young said.
Founded in 1984, UBC is one of four professional ballet companies in Korea. Its repertoire includes many full length classical ballets, together with shorter contemporary works and original full-length Korean pieces created especially for the company.
Some of the main productions with Korean themes are “Shim Chung: A Legend From the Far East,” and “Love of Chunhyang,” based on traditional stories and choreographed especially for the company.
Last year, UBC became only the second Asian dance company to stage “Onegin,” one of the finest dramatic ballets of the 20th century, after China’s National Ballet in 2008.
Despite its popularity, the masterpiece by legendary South African choreographer John Cranko (1927-1973) is seldom performed, as the John Cranko Foundation has strict standards about granting the rights to perform or commercialize the work.
UBC was founded and is led by Julia Moon, one of the first Korean ballerinas to dance professionally in the United States. The company has 73 dancers, including several from Russia and China.
After returning from South Africa, the UBC will present “The Sleeping Beauty” at the Sejong Center for the Performing Arts, from April 5 to 8.