The Korea National Ballet is opening this year’s season with Sergei Prokofiev’s “Romeo and Juliet,” featuring its star principals Kim Ji-young, Lee Dong-hun, and Spain’s Compania Nacional de Danza’s principal ballerina Kim Seh-yun in the lead.
The troupe is presenting a version created by French choreographer Jean-Christophe Maillot of Monte Carlo Ballet Theater. The local troupe first premiered Maillot’s “Romeo and Juliet” in 2000, and had two separate runs in 2002 and 2011, respectively. The troupe’s 2011 run was specially accompanied by Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra, led by conductor Chung Myung-whun.
The upcoming show is very much different from the Kenneth MacMillan version showcased by the Universal Ballet Company last year. Maillot’s “Romeo and Juliet” is noted for its contemporary choreography which deals with dualities of adolescence ― rather than the conflicts between the two feuding families. Its stage setting, created by French designer Ernest Pignon-Ernest, is also known for its black and white, minimal design.
|A scene from Korea National Ballet’s “Romeo and Juliet” (KNB)|
This year, KNB’s principal Kim Ji-young is starring as Juliet, with Lee Dong-hun as Romeo. Korean ballerina Kim Seh-yun, who is currently working as the principal dancer at Compania Nacional de Danza in Madrid, is playing Lady Capulet, Juliet’s mother.
In Maillot’s version, Juliet’s father, Capulet, never appears in the show. Maillot’s Lady Capulet, on the other hand, is much stronger willed than the one in the original. She is also having a secret affair with Tybalt, her husband’s nephew, who later gets killed by his rival Romeo. Maillot also recreated Friar Laurence, who hopes to reconcile the two families through their children’s reunion in the original play. In Maillot’s version, he is portrayed as someone who is facing much confusion, anguish and doubt.
Ballerina Kim Seh-yun, formerly the principal dancer of Korea’s Universal Ballet Company in the early 2000s, moved to Boston Ballet in the U.S. in 2004. She also danced for Switzerland’s Ballet Zurich, and the Dutch National Ballet, before settling down in Madrid as one of the principals for Spain’s Compania Nacional de Danza in September last year. She flew to Monaco from Spain to attend an audition for the role of Lady Capulet for the upcoming show. According to the Korea National Ballet, Maillot made his decision on the spot in Monaco, after watching her dance for about 30 minutes.
This year, Korean Symphony Orchestra is playing Prokofiev’s classic score, led by Italian conductor Marzio Conti, along with the ballet.
“Romeo and Juliet” opens on Valentine’s Day and runs until Feb. 17 at Seoul Arts Center’s Opera Theater in Seocho-dong, southern Seoul. Tickets range from 5,000 won to 80,000 won. For more information, visit www.kballet.org.
By Claire Lee (firstname.lastname@example.org