The Korea Herald


Universal Ballet to celebrate 30th anniversary with a bang

By Claire Lee

Published : Feb. 18, 2014 - 19:31

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Scenes from Universal Ballet Company’s signature performances, “Romeo and Juliet” (left) and “Onegin” (UBC) Scenes from Universal Ballet Company’s signature performances, “Romeo and Juliet” (left) and “Onegin” (UBC)

This year is Korea’s Universal Ballet Company’s 30th anniversary, and the troupe is celebrating it with a bang.

The company is throwing a special gala performance this week, featuring its star dancers. Titled “Thank You!,” the program consists of scenes from some of the troupe’s most successful repertoires including “La Bayadere,” “Onegin,” “Sleeping Beauty” and “Don Quixote.”

“We weren’t sure how much the troupe could accomplish in a country where many people did not know about ballet 30 years ago,” said Julia Moon, the director of the company. “But the company has grown so much. We hope to celebrate this milestone by building a foundation so we can better our performances for years to come.”

Along with the company’s principal dancers, including Hwang Hye-min and Uhm Jae-yong, the gala will offer a rare opportunity for local ballet fans to see some of the most prominent Korean-born dancers who currently perform overseas.

Seo Hee, one of the principals for the American Ballet Theatre in New York, and Kang Hyo-jung, a principal with Germany’s Stuttgart Ballet, will join the Universal Ballet for the gala.

The highlights of the show include the final Act III pas de deux in John Cranko’s drama ballet “Onegin,” in which its heroine Tatiana bitterly rejects her love interest, Onegin. Universal Ballet’s principals Hwang and Uhm, who are a married couple in real life, are to perform the scene together as the ill-starred lovers in the ballet adaptation of Pushkin’s verse-novel.

American Ballet Theatre’s Seo Hee will pair up with Ivan Putrov, the former principal dancer at the Royal Ballet. The two are to perform the famous balcony scene in Kenneth MacMillan’s “Romeo and Juliet” to the well-known score by Sergei Prokofiev.

Other highlights include a scene from “La Bayadere,” known as “The Kingdom of the Shades,” featuring a total of 32 corps de ballet dancers in white tutus. Scenes from William Forsythe’s 1987 iconic work “In the Middle, Somewhat Elevated,” as well as Nacho Duato’s “Duende” will also be performed.

“Thank You!: The 30th Anniversary Special Gala” runs from Feb. 21-23 at the Seoul Arts Center’s Opera Theater in Seocho-dong, southern Seoul. For more information, visit

By Claire Lee (