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Brothers dance in two competing ‘Giselle’ productions

Mariinsky principal dancer Kim Ki-min and his brother Ki-wan to perform Albrecht in KNB and UBC productions of “Giselle,” respectively

Korea’s two leading ballet companies, the Korean National Ballet and the Universal Ballet Company will stage one of the most romantic classic ballet works later this month and in April, respectively.

The productions share the same title, but are different in their interpretations. The KNB’s “Giselle” is the 1991 French production staged at the French Opera Ballet by Patrice Bart and Eugene Polyakov. The production is acclaimed for being faithful in its interpretation of Jean Coralli and Jules Perrot’s “Giselle,” which first premiered in 1841.

The UBC’s version of the romantic ballet piece, on the other hand, is based on the choreography by Russia’s Mariinsky Ballet Company.

The Mariinsky Theater’s Kim Ki-min and Yekaterina Osmolkina (Universal Ballet Company)
The Mariinsky Theater’s Kim Ki-min and Yekaterina Osmolkina (Universal Ballet Company)

“(The Mariinsky version of ‘Giselle’) is characterized by the distinctive movements of the dancers, who have adopted Vaganova method into their trainings, including their beautiful upper body movements and natural and eloquent acting style,” Mariinsky Theater principal dancer Kim Ki-min, who will perform Albrecht in UBC’s “Giselle,” told The Korea Herald in an email interview. Kim was the winner of the 2016 Benois de la Danse.

Preparing for the upcoming performance, Kim recalled his first debut with “Giselle.” 

Korean National Ballet’s “Giselle” (The Korean National Ballet)
Korean National Ballet’s “Giselle” (The Korean National Ballet)

“I wanted to perform ‘Giselle’ when the Mariinsky Theater first offered me the role five years ago. But I also wanted to wait until I became more experienced, largely due to my love of the work,” Kim said.

“However, I consulted with my teacher and decided to debut with the piece. I had to prepare for the debut feeling heavily burdened, I recall.”

The ballerino is expected to bring a more seasoned “Giselle” performance.

“I will try my best to perform ‘Giselle’ as usual. I try not to dwell on specifics when performing the role since I become less natural with my own performance when I do that,” said Kim.

Dancing runs in Kim’s family. His older brother, Kim Ki-wan, a soloist at KNB, will be performing Albrecht in the KNB production of “Giselle.”

“Every time I rehearsed I talked with him about ‘Giselle.’ (We) share rehearsal videos and comment on each other’s performance. We do have different interpretations of the work but understand each other better than anyone else. I am greatly influenced by my brother as I always learn a lot from him,” said the younger brother.

The KNB’s “Giselle” will be staged at the Seoul Arts Center between March 21 and 25 and UBC’ “Giselle” will be performed at the Universal Arts Center in Seoul between April 6 and 15.

By Shim Woo-hyun (