National Ballet to stage Maillot’s ‘Romeo and Juliet’

  • Published : Sept 8, 2011 - 18:41
  • Updated : Sept 8, 2011 - 19:50

Chung Myung-whun to conduct Seoul Philharmonic for Oct. 27-30 shows

Korean ballet has grown phenomenally in the past few years, said conductor Chung Myung-whun at a press conference held Thursday at the Press Center in central Seoul.

“Korea National Ballet used to be like our old orchestras. It was rather humiliating. But I was really surprised to see how quickly it has developed. We inserted some ballet scenes in the Independence Day concert held last year, and I thought it was stunning. Korea National Ballet these days is not the old KNB,” said the maestro.

Chung, music director of Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra, will take the baton for Korea National Ballet’s upcoming show “Romeo and Juliet.” He will lead SPO, which will play music by Russian composer Sergei Prokofiev.

“I have conducted ballet only once before; the Paris Opera Ballet when I was with the Paris Opera. Conducting a ballet is not so appealing for a conductor because there are limits in terms of tempo and rhythm. You cannot slow down or go faster according to your feelings, because then the dancers cannot dance. That is why I didn’t conduct many ballets,” said Chung. 
From left: Ballerino Lee Young-hoon, ballerina Kim Joo-won, conductor Chung Myung-whun, KNB head Choi Tai-ji, ballerino Kim Yong-geol pose on Thursday at Press Center in central Seoul. (KNB)

“But I decided to do this, first, because KNB is of a whole new level, and also because I thought it would be fun to give and take music and rhythm on stage with the ballet crew. I always think ensemble is beautiful. I hope this will be an opportunity for our orchestra and KNB to reach world-level together.”

As it did in 2000, KNB will be showcasing the version by Jean-Christophe Maillot, legendary French choreographer of Monte Carlos Ballet Theater. What is significant about Maillot’s “Romeo and Juliet” is that he reinterpreted the classic ballet into a 21st century choreography.

Minimal stage settings, very simple and mostly black and white, by French stage designer Ernest Pignon-Ernest, will add to the chic, modern vibe.

Star ballerinas of KNB, Kim Ji-young and Kim Joo-won, are double cast for Juliet. When Kim Ji-young plays Juliet, Kim Joo-won will take the stage as Madame Capulet. Ballerinos Kim Yong-geol and Lee Dong-hoon will share the role of Romeo. 
A scene from Korea National Ballet’s “Romeo and Juliet.” (KNB)

“I used to laugh at myself as I dreamed how wonderful it would be if he (Chung Myung-whun) could conduct our ballet. It still seems surreal that I can finally dance under Chung’s direction,” said Kim Yong-geol.

“My favorite ballet is ‘Romeo and Juliet’ and my favorite role is ‘Juliet.’ I feel honored to be able to work with Chung Myung-whun. Music contains stories, and I feel that we could tell our viewers many different stories this time,” said Kim Joo-won.

“Romeo and Juliet” will run from Oct. 27 to 30 at Seoul Arts Center’s Opera Theater in Seocho-dong, southern Seoul. Tickets range from 5,000 won to 150,000 won. For more information, call (02) 587-6181 or visit www.kballet.org.

By Park Min-young (claire@heraldcorp.com)