“Vortex”: The National Dance Company of Korea, which has been solely focusing on Korean traditional dance, is collaborating with a foreign choreographer for the first time since its inception in 1962. Their upcoming performance, “Vortex,” is choreographed by Finnish artist Tero Saarinen. Participating dancers include Kim Mi-ae, the troupe’s principal dancer, and Park Hye-ji, an apprentice who was surprisingly selected by Saarinen to play one of the leading characters in the piece. “Vortex” runs from April 16-19 at the National Theater of Korea in Jangchung-dong, Seoul. Tickets range from 20,000 won to 70,000 won. For more information, call (02) 2280-4116 or visit www.ntok.go.kr.
“Swan Lake”: The Korean National Ballet is staging the Tchaikovsky classic “Swan Lake” in April. The famous ballet tells the story of Odette, a princess turned into a swan through an evil sorcerer’s curse. She tries to break the curse with her love interest Prince Siegfried, but fails as the prince gets tricked by Von Rothbart, the sorcerer. The show runs from April 10 to 13 at Seoul Arts Center’s Opera Theater. For more information, call (02) 587-6181.
|A promotional image for the Korean National Ballet’s “Swan Lake” (KNB)|
“Mookhyang”: Fashion designer Jung Kuho’s dance “Mookhyang (Scent of Ink)” is returning for its second run in June. The piece is his second collaboration with the National Dance Company of Korea, a group that specializes in traditional Korean dance. It is inspired by Korean traditional ink painting and pays special attention to the “four noble ones,” the four plants that are believed to epitomize Korea’s Confucian aesthetics: bamboo, the chrysanthemum, the plum blossom and the orchid. The four were praised for their beauty and resilience, and were often painted by artists during the Joseon Era. “Mookhyang” runs from June 1 to 7 at the National Theater of Korea in Jangchung-dong, Seoul. For more information, call (02) 2280-4114 or visit www.ntok.go.kr.
“Altar”: Fashion designer Jung Kuho and the National Dance Company of Korea’s collaboration “Altar” is being restaged in May and June. The dance is choreographed by local artist Ahn Sung-soo, who also choreographed the Korean National Ballet and Jung’s “Poise” last year. Jung is directing the upcoming performance, and is in charge of the stage and costume design, music, hair, makeup and lighting. The piece explores the concepts of “the East” and of shared and imagined Koreanness. “Altar” will be performed on May 31, June 4 and 6 at the National Theater of Korea in Seoul. Tickets range from 20,000 won to 70,000 won. For more information, call (02) 2280-4114-6.Theater
“Ophelia”: Local musical “Ophelia,” an interpretation of Shakespeare’s “Hamlet,” is being staged in Seoul in May. Ophelia is a fictional character who appears in “Hamlet.” She’s a young noblewoman whose father is killed by her love interest, Hamlet, and eventually goes mad. The upcoming musical centers around Ophelia, rather than Hamlet ― who is the protagonist in the original Shakespeare play. Composer Choi Woo-jeong, screenwriter and former Culture Minister Kim Myung-gon and contemporary dancer Cha Jin-yup participated in the project. “Ophelia” runs from May 16-25 at the Sejong Center for the Performing Arts in central Seoul. Tickets range from 30,000 won to 70,000 won. For more information, call (02) 515-0405.
|A promotional image for “Ophelia” (Ari Interworks)|
“Bonnie & Clyde”: The Broadway musical “Bonnie & Clyde” is being staged in Seoul for the second time. The musical features the infamous love story of Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow, the well-known robbers who traveled the central United States during the Great Depression. The show had its Broadway premiere in 2011 and was nominated for two Tony awards in 2012. “Bonnie & Clyde” runs from April 15 to June 29 at BBC Arts Center in Seoul. Tickets range from 60,000 won to 120,000 won. For more information, call 1588-0688.
“Full House”: The homegrown musical “Full House” is kicking off its first run in April. Based on manga artist Won Soo-yeon’s 1993 hit series of the same name, the musical deals with an unusual romance between a famous actor and a scriptwriter. Won’s manga was made into a popular TV series back in 2004, starring Rain and Song Hye-gyo in the leading roles. “Full House” runs from April 11 to June 8 at Hongik Daehangno Art Center in Hongdae district, Seoul. Tickets range from 55,000 won to 110,000 won. For more information, call (02) 744-4350.
“Are You OK?”: Local troupe Gori’s 2012 play “Are You OK?” is back for its second run. The play tells the story of Sook, a migrant worker from Southeast Asia living in a rural town in Korea, and her struggles to adjust to the new surroundings. Themes of prejudice and discrimination are explored in the play, which is set in a small town where everyone knows everyone else and their business. “Are You OK?” is being staged until April 6 at Daehangno Studio 76 in Hyehwa-dong, Seoul. For more information, call 1599-7813.
“Seopyeonje”: A musical adaptation of late author Lee Cheong-jun’s celebrated novel of the same title, “Seopyeonje” is back for another run in Seoul. The musical tells the poignant tale of pansori singers trying to make a living in the modern world by performing their traditional vocal and percussion music. The show debuted in 2011 with much acclaim, winning five prizes at the 2011 The Musical Awards. Popular pansori singer Lee Ja-ram and musical actress Cha Ji-yeon share the lead role of Song-hwa, while Korean-American actor Michael Lee and actor Song Yong-jin star as Dong-ho, Song-hwa’s love interest. The show will run from March 20 to May 11 at Universal Art Center in Seoul. Tickets range from 50,000 won to 110,000 won. For tickets and information, call 1577-3363.Classical music
“Zurich Tonhalle Orchestra”: One of the two most prominent orchestras of Switzerland, Zurich Tonhalle Orchestra, will have its first performance in Korea on April 21 at Seoul Arts Center. David Zinman, its principal conductor since 1995, will take the baton, while famed violinist Gidon Kremer will join as soloist. The concert will open with two works by Beethoven: the “Overture to the Creatures of Prometheus” Op. 43 and Violin Concerto in D major Op. 61. It will close with Brahms’ Symphony No. 4 in E minor Op 98. Ticket prices range from 24,000 won to 50,000 won. For more information, call (02) 599-5743 or visit www.vincero.co.kr.
|Zurich Tonhalle Orchestra and its principal conductor David Zinman (Vincero)|
“Jordi Savall and Hesperion XXI”: Early-music heavyweight Jordi Savall will bring his Hesperion XXI ensemble to Korea for a concert titled “Orient & Occident.” The Spanish master last performed here in 2005, offering Korean audiences a rare chance to discover the musical riches of earlier centuries through his idiosyncratic interpretations. In the upcoming concert, the conductor-cum-viol player-cum-composer will present music from the Mediterranean area from the 13th to 18th centuries as part of his efforts to bridge the yawning gap between the Islamic Arab region and Christian Europe through music. The Hesperion XXI, an ensemble Savall put together, will feature three players of traditional Arab instruments. Savall himself will play the rebab, a traditional string instrument in Arab countries. The concert will be held April 29 at LG Arts Center in southern Seoul. Ticket starts from 30,000 won. For more information, call (02) 2005-0114.
“Orchestra Festival”: The annual “Orchestra Festival” is now under way at Seoul Arts Center, with 18 orchestras on board. It started April 1 and runs until April 18, with the orchestras taking the stage one by one with a program that best shows their musical ability. On April 9, Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra will perform, with Scott Yoo holding the baton. It will present a program of Mendelssohn, Weber and Shostakovich. On April 17, Suwon Philharmonic Orchestra will perform, conducted by Kim Dae-jin and featuring Russian pianist Boris Giltburg as soloist. Wrapping up the 18 days of music will be Bucheon Philharmonic Orchestra and its outgoing conductor Lim Hun-joung, playing a program of Brahms and Korean composer Paik Byung-dong. For tickets, visit www.sac.or.kr or call (02) 580-1300.Pop music
“Monni Follow My Voice”: Local rock band Monni officially debuted as a band in 2005 with its first studio album “The First Day, the Light.” Since then, the band has slowly climbed out of the small-time local club scene to play at some of the country’s most popular summer rock festivals. It has been nearly three years since Monni has released a full studio album and the rock group is finally making its return with its third album “Follow My Voice.” Monni will be holding a number of solo concerts to promote its upcoming album, including performances at the Yongsan Art Hall in Seoul on April 5-6. The band will then head to Busan to perform on April 12 and to Daegu on April 19 before returning to Seoul and hosting two more shows at Sangsang Madang on April 26-27. For more information on ticket prices and reservations, call (02) 3141-3488 or visit www.interpark.com.
|Korean alt rock band Monni will perform at the Yongsan Art Hall in Seoul on April 5 and 6. (Modern Boy Record)|
“Musiq Soulchild Live in Seoul”: American R&B singer-songwriter Musiq Soulchild is slated to perform his second solo concert in Seoul, his first return since 2012 where he serenaded a sold out crowd in his first performance in the country. Since debuting in 2000 with his first album “Aijuswanaseing,” the R&B artist has produced a steady stream of hits such as “For the Night,” “Love,” “If U Leave” and many others. Musiq Soulchild has won Billboard’s R&B Hip-hop Award four times and been nominated for best male R&B performance at the Grammy Awards 11 times since 2002. Musiq Soulchild will perform his “Live in Seoul” concert on April 19 at the UNIQLO AX Hall. All tickets are listed at 110,000 won. For more information, call (02) 3141-3488 or visit www.interpark.com.
“Jeff Beck”: The legendary English rock guitarist Jeff Beck will be putting on a special solo concert performance in Seoul this April. Beck was once ranked No. 5 on Rolling Stone Magazine’s “100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time” and was described as “one of the most influential lead guitarists in rock.” The 69-year-old has had one of the most illustrious rock and roll careers as a former member of the Yardbirds band playing alongside other rock legends Eric Clapton and Jimmy Page and has landed himself in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame twice, both as a solo artist and a member of the Yardbirds. Beck will be performing live at the Seoul Olympic Park’s Olympic Hall on April 27. Tickets range from 88,000 won to 154,000 won. For more information, call (02) 3141-3488 or visit www.interpark.com.Exhibitions
“Shirin Neshat”: The retrospective of Iranian-born media artist Shirin Neshat presents 20 years of her works at the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Korea. The exhibition showcases two photograph series, “Women of Allah” and “The Book of Kings,” a black-and-white video trilogy ― “Turbulent,” “Rapture” and “Fervor” ― and award-winning film “Women without Men.” Using a visual metaphor and compelling sounds, Neshat confronts the complexities of identity, gender and power to express her vision which embraces the depth of Islamic tradition and Western concepts of individuality and liberty. The exhibition runs through July 13 at the Seoul branch of the MMCA. For more information, call (02) 3701-9500, or visit www.mmca.go.kr.
|“Roja” by Shirin Neshat (Galerie Jérôme de Noirmont, Paris)|
“Liquid Times”: The Seoul Museum of Art is presenting a group exhibition of contemporary Korean and Chinese artists as part of an exchange program with Sonzhuang Art Center and White Box Museum of Art in Beijing. The exhibition covers a variety of contemporary art practices from photography to installations to media art. Borrowing its name from Zygmunt Bauman’s popular book “Liquid Times: Living in an Age of Uncertainty,” the exhibition reflects on the anxiety and confusion prevalent in today’s society. The works on display include staged gravity-defying photographs by Beijing-based photographer and performance artist Li Wei; a collection of money and baskets that artist Lee Won-ho bought from beggars in Seoul; and a wooden house installation and a video taken by Chinese artist Song Dong while riding a bicycle in Beijing. The exhibition runs through May 11 at the Seoul Museum of Art. For more information, visit sema.seoul.go.kr.
“The Republic of Apartments”: This exhibition at the Seoul Museum of History takes the audience on a journey through the history of Korean apartment development and looks into the influence of apartments on Koreans’ lifestyles. Contemporary artists present different perspectives on apartments through paintings, photographs and installations depicting lives, memories and even humor associated with living in apartments in Korea.
Photographer Ahn Se-kwon’s panoramic image of Wolgok-dong, a northern area in Seoul where new apartments have been built in an old neighborhood, shows two contrasting scenes. The left side shows well-lit newly built apartments while the right side is full of old, unlit houses. The exhibition continues through May 6 at the Seoul Museum of History at 55 Saemunan-ro, Jongno-gu, Seoul. For more information, visit www.museum.seoul.kr.
“Spectacle in Perspective”: Plateau, Samsung Museum of Art presents a solo exhibition of Jung Yeon-doo, named Artist of the Year in 2007 by the National Museum of Contemporary Art, Seoul. His works deal with the lives of ordinary people. These include families residing in a Seoul apartment complex, middle-aged male fans of K-Pop girl group Crayon Pop and shop clerks at luxury boutiques in Ginza, Tokyo. The artist also presents his interpretation of Auguste Rodin’s monumental sculpture “The Gates of Hell” using an Oculus Rift, an optical device for 3-D visualization. The exhibition runs from March 13 to June 8 at Plateau. The museum is closed on Mondays. For more information, call 1577-7595, or visit www.plateau.or.kr.Festivals
“Shinan Tulip Festival”: The tulip festival will be held from April 18-27 in Shinan County, South Jeolla Province. Shinan, a county made up of over 1,000 islands off Mokpo on the southwestern coast, is ideal for growing tulips because of abundant sunshine and fertile soil. Imjamyeon of Shinan County boasts the country’s largest tulip growing area of 10 hectares. At this time of year in Imjamyeon, about 3 million tulip bulbs of 73 species are in bloom. Programs include flowerpot-making, walks through rape flower fields, horseback riding and cycling. For more information, call (061) 240-8880 or visit www.shinantulip.co.kr. (Yonhap)
|A tulip flower bed on a beach in Shinan, South Jeolla Province (Shinan Tulip Festival)|
“Gwangalli Eobang Festival”: Eobang refers to the fishermen’s cooperative community in Suyeong in the city of Busan. The festival, which runs from April 25-27 at Gwangalli Beach, Busan, is the largest spring celebration in the southeastern port city. Visitors will be able to enjoy fishermen’s dances and games, raw fish and other seafood dishes, as well as other colorful events in the natural setting of Gwangalli Beach. For more information, visit festival-eobang.suyeong.go.kr or call (051) 610-4061. (Yonhap)
“Ulsan Whale Festival”: Ulsan, the southern coastal industrial city known for being a habitat of migratory whales, will celebrate its 20th whale festival from April 24-27 in the city’s special whale district and along the Taehwagang River. The four-day event commemorates the whaling heritage of Ulsan. Whaling is banned for environmental reasons. Festivalgoers will be offered a look into the history and tradition of whaling at the Ulsan Whale Museum. It will include night cruises along the coast, parades and dance performances. For more information, visit www.ulsanwhale.com (English available).