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[Herald Review] KNB combines classic with contemporary in ‘Serenade & The Rite of Spring’

The Korean National Ballet unveiled its combined performance of “Serenade & The Rite of Spring” over the weekend, showcasing a night of blissful classical ballet and unorthodox modern dance.

While the KNB’s past performances of Stravinsky’s wildly unexpected avant-garde ballet “The Rite of Spring” were coupled with the performance of the Beethoven classic “The Seventh Symphony,” this season’s replacement and premiere of “Serenade” was a much-welcomed surprise when it was staged at the LG Arts Center in Seoul from Friday to Sunday.

Opting to go with George Balanchine’s 1935 American ballet, “Serenade” was performed to Tschaikovsky’s 1880 Serenade for Strings in C, Op. 48., with the KNB showcasing an even greater contrast between traditional and modern repertoires. 

A scene from the Korean National Ballet’s production of “The Rite of Spring.” (Korean National Ballet)
A scene from the Korean National Ballet’s production of “The Rite of Spring.” (Korean National Ballet)

Starring ballerinas Kim Ji-young, Kim Ri-hwi and Park Ye-eun, “Serenade” was as aesthetically appealing as it was graceful, possessing the angelic ambience of “Giselle.” On the other side of the dance spectrum, Glen Tetley’s rendition of “The Rite of Spring” had all the makings of a raw and animalistic chic ballet.

A far departure from the classical dance forms, this year’s performance of “The Rite of Spring” was as invigorating as ever, with just the right amount of heart-pounding, primal choreography to make even the audience feel short of breath.

Kim Yoon-sik received a well-deserved standing ovation on opening night for his ability to handle his classical ballet dancer persona and take charge of the stage as the “Chosen One” in the production’s tribal and ritualistic dance-inspired choreography.  

A scene from the Korean National Ballet’s production of “The Rite of Spring.” (Korean National Ballet)
A scene from the Korean National Ballet’s production of “The Rite of Spring.” (Korean National Ballet)

Next on KNB’s season repertoire is a special commentary production of “Don Quixote” from May 5 to 8 at the LG Arts Center in Seoul. The ballet will feature educational commentary, giving the audience in-depth explanations of particular dance gestures and their meaning.

Ticket prices are listed at 20,000 won and 30,000 won. For more information, call (02) 587-6181.

By Julie Jackson (juliejackson@heraldcorp.com)
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