Bach meets modern ballet

By Claire Lee
  • Published : Apr 24, 2014 - 20:29
  • Updated : Apr 25, 2014 - 16:14
After its season-opening gala “Thank You!” in February, Korea’s Universal Ballet Company is premiering a new piece choreographed by Spanish artist Nacho Duato.

Titled “Multiplicity, Forms of Silence and Emptiness,” the dance features well-known Baroque compositions by Johann Sebastian Bach and aims to deliver the emotional essence of his music and important moments of the legendary composer’s life.

Universal Ballet is the fifth troupe to perform the piece choreographed by Duato, following the National Spanish Dance Company, the Norwegian National Ballet, the Bavarian State Ballet in Munich and Russia’s Mikhailovsky Theatre Ballet. 
A scene from “Nacho Duato ― Multiplicity, Forms of Silence and Emptiness.” (UBC)

Duato first visited Korea in 2002, with the National Spanish Dance Company. He met with the Universal Ballet during the visit, and the Korean troupe performed his piece “Na Floresta” for the first time in 2003. In 2005, Universal Ballet staged another piece by Duato, “Duende.”

Julia Moon, the artistic director of Universal Ballet, first saw “Multiplicity, Forms of Silence and Emptiness” in 2004 and was deeply moved by its choreography and musicality.

“The choreography harmonizes with the music so exquisitely, and has sophisticated movements,” said Moon in a statement. “The piece is also filled with respect for Bach’s life and music. ... I think if you are a fan of Bach, you will enjoy the piece, even if you are not too familiar with ballet.”

A total of 22 pieces by Bach are featured in the ballet, including excerpts from the Brandenburg Concertos, concertos for organ, sonatas for cello and violin and the “Goldberg” Variations.

Duato trained and studied at the Rambert School of London, Maurice Bejart’s Mudra School in Brussels and Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater in New York before joining Stockholm’s Cullberg Ballet. He also danced for the Netherlands Dans Theater for 10 years, with artistic director and famed Czech choreographer Jiri Kylian.

In 1990, at age 34, Dueto accepted the position of artistic director of the National Spanish Dance Company, where he stayed until 2010. He has been serving as the artistic director of Russia’s Mikhailovsky Theatre ever since. He is scheduled to serve as the artistic director of the Berlin State Ballet starting in July.

His choreography has been performed by some of the most prestigious dance companies worldwide, including the American Ballet Theatre, Stuttgart Ballet, Royal Ballet, San Francisco Ballet and Paris Opera Ballet.

“Multiplicity, Forms of Silence and Emptiness” runs from April 25-27 at LG Arts Center in southern Seoul. Tickets range from 30,000 won to 100,000 won. For more information, call (02) 2005-0114.

By Claire Lee (dyc@heraldcorp.com)