A scene from the first act of “Sleeping Beauty”
/ Courtesy of Universal Ballet Company
By Do Je-hae
When staging a well-known work like “Sleeping Beauty,” organizers are bound to be concerned about the pitfall of a dejavu performance.
One way to avoid this would be to pay the utmost attention to the details of the performance, whether it be the staging or costumes.
The Universal Ballet Company (UBC) has concluded a series of performances of “Sleeping Beauty” at the Sejong Center for the Performing Arts.
The company’s attention to detail was obvious in a rehearsal ahead of the first production.
During a dress rehearsal last Thursday, UBC general director Julia Moon sat in the audience with a microphone, with her eyes glued to each movement on stage.
A former dancer herself and one of the first Korean ballerinas to dance professionally in the U.S., it was apparent that she was completely knowledgeable of all aspects of the work.
She made directions and comments about the moves of not just the lead dancers but also the dancers in the corps de ballet. She poured out suggestions for better use of space and enhancement of the body movements.
It seemed that the detail-oriented leader has been a good influence on the company.
There was no doubt about the high level of artistry of the lead dancers, but the dancers in the lower ranks of the company also seemed to be focused on what they were doing on stage.
In particular, the staging and the costumes were marvelous.
A ballet performance is not complete without a good orchestral accompaniment, and the Prime Philharmonic did justice to the captivating music of Tchaikovsky for the masterpiece considered the “textbook of classical ballet.”
But there were slight flaws that the company could do a better job with.
For instance, in the first act, there were scenes where female dancers had to stand in line or do a few steps with violins in their hands.
The steps were airy and they looked beautiful in their costumes. But the way they were holding the bow was completely awkward.
For ballet dancers who are trained to have great body coordination, learning how to hold a violin bow properly would not be a difficult task.
If they had held the bows properly, this would have given a more professional and elegant look to the entire scene.
The production was UBC’s first “Sleeping Beauty” in six years and all shows were sold out, according to the company.
Moon and UBC principal dancer Kang Ye-na gave pre-curtain talks on “How to enjoy The Sleeping Beauty.” These talks have become the trademark of a UBC performance.
The final performance on Sunday was performed by company stars Hwang Hye-min and Ohm Jae-yong, who have danced together for more than 10 years, covering every ballet in the company’s repertoire.
The company has 73 dancers, including several from Russia and China.
The ballet, based on Charles Perrault’s beautiful tale, “The Sleeping Beauty in the Wood,” is a tale beloved all around the world. Tchaikovsky and choreographer Marius Petipa transformed the story into a ballet, which premiered at the Mariinsky Theater in St. Petersburg, Russia, in 1890.
The company’s next production will take place in July, with “Romeo and Juliet” by Kenneth MacMillan, legendary British choreographer and former director of the Royal Ballet in London.
It will be the first time for a Korean company to stage MacMillan’s version of the masterpiece.