Universal Ballet Company’s principals Hwang Hye-min and Ohm Jae-yong have been dancing together for some 10 years, as Romeo and Juliet, Onegin and Tatyana, and Albrecht and Giselle.
The two, famous for their chemistry and caliber onstage, in fact tied the knot last year and became husband and wife. The star dancers were featured as prince Siegfried and Odette in the opening show of the troupe’s season opener “Swan Lake” on Friday ― proving why they dance well as a team.
UBC performed the piece in Johannesburg, South Africa, last year, becoming the first Korean ballet company to perform in Africa. It also had a successful run of the same piece in Japan in January, receiving rave reviews from the local audience. The last time UBC staged “Swan Lake” in Seoul was during its 2010 season.
|Universal Ballet Company’s principals Hwang Hye-min (right) and Ohm Jae-yong (left) star in Tchaikovsky classic “Swan Lake.” (UBC)|
The troupe has been performing the 1895 Mariinsky Theater version of the Tchaikovsky classic, while developing its own forte in the corps de ballet. Since its first show in 1992, UBC’s “Swan Lake” has been noted for its beautifully synchronized corps, which requires staying in strict formation throughout.
Friday’s performance again proved the troupe’s strength in its corps de ballet dancing the bevy of white swans. However, the greatest highlight of the performance was ballerina Hwang Hye-min, whose delivery of the tragic Swan Queen ― as well as the sultry black swan ― was beyond expectation. Compared to her performance last year during the troupe’s Johannesburg run, Hwang seemed to have added more drama and intensity to the role.
What were striking were Hwang’s wing-like arm movements as the swan character, which seemed to be more exaggerated than the ones of other dancers. Her distinctive style particularly shined in Act 3 and Act 4, when she played the sultry black swan and the Swan Queen in utter despair. She was much of an actress in the classical piece, while pulling off the strict, purest ballet techniques ― including the famous fouette in act 3, where the black swan charms Prince Siegfried by turning 32 times in sequence.
UBC’s “Swan Lake” features a tragic ending, where the prince dies while fighting against von Rothbart, the evil sorcerer, to break Odette’s cursed spell. His love for her breaks the Swan Queen’s spell and she becomes a human again. The show ends as the princess breaks down upon her discovery of Siegfried’s death.
One of the most memorable moments of the show was in fact when Odette discovered her lover is dead. Hwang, as the grieving swan, kept moving her arms up and down; it was almost as if looking at a wounded bird fluttering in severe pain. Her petite physique also delivered the character’s vulnerable and tragic nature.
Her husband Ohm, as always, showed great chemistry with Hwang, making the show entertaining and enjoyable throughout.
UBC’s “Swan Lake” runs until March 12 at the Seoul Arts Center. Each day’s show features different casts, including the troupe’s principal Kang Ye-na and Evan Mckie, a principal with Germany’s Stuttgart Ballet.
By Claire Lee (firstname.lastname@example.org)