Tuesday, October 7, 2014

"My dear love, Chunhyang" - an afternoon at the Ballet

I've gotten to see some great performances while here in Korea, but I recently had the opportunity to see a ballet and it was one of the BEST events so far!

"My dear love, Chunhyang" is a popular Korean tale about a young official named Mongyong who meets and falls in love with Chunhyang, thanks in part to the matchmaking antics of their respective servants. He is called away for government testing and the lovers must part. While he is away, the local governor demands Chunhyang's servitude, but she refuses and is imprisoned.  Eventually Mongyong returns to free Chunhyang from prison, and they are married.

There was a large company of dancers for this production, and I believe a number of them were students, since this was held at a ballet academy (there were some very young looking dancers at times).  The level of skill and the beauty of the performance were top-notch, however, and I truly enjoyed the entire work.

Did I mention that some friends and I were in the front row? And that it was a small, intimate theater? I felt as though a few of the ballerinas were going to jump in my lap a few times, but it was a very nice perspective to see all of the dancing from.

Unlike a typical ballet that may come to mind, such as "Nutcracker" or "Swan Lake", "My dear love, Chunhyang" had some decidedly Korean elements, one of which was the use of pansori.

"Pansori (판소리) is a Korean genre of musical storytelling performed by a vocalist and a drummer. The music is usually performed by one sorikkun (소리꾼, a singer) and one gosu (a drummer playing a barrel drum called a buk, 북). " (Wikipedia)

Here's a short video clip, courtesy of a fellow supporter (Jason Chun), of one of the pansori sets:

The costumes were wonderful - very colorful, with marks of Korean influence, and suited to the fluid dancing.  Some dancers had hand banners, and at another point there was a traditional fan dance incorporated into the ballet.

The two lead dancers were outstanding - both in technique and acting ability. I could have watched them dance together all night.

The performance was thoroughly enjoyable, from start to finish, and just when I thought the afternoon's performance was done...

...what started playing over the sound system?  Psy's "Gangnam Style", of course.

And who had the great fortune (misfortune?) of being in the front row and getting pulled up to dance with them?  Why, this gal! Oh, my...

Thanks to my "friend" Alex for this incriminating evidence.  :)

I highly recommend attending a performance at the Seongam Arts Center, on the 3rd floor, if you have the chance.  You won't regret it!


Phone: 02-543-0826

It is not a large theater building - look for the "Ballet Academy" sign above the entrance:

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