Three Colors Down

When browsing my daily copy of the Seoul Sinmun, I came across an interesting article: 지젤 三國志 (loosely translated “The Three Kingdoms of Giselle”), a tryptich review of three dance productions on show in and around Seoul. Giselle, of course, refers to the romantic ballet in two acts. The Samguk-ji (삼국지) or Sānguó Zhì in Chinese (三国志), is a 60-volume chronicle of the Chinese era of the “Three Kingdoms” (220–280 CE).

Reviewer LEE Gyeong-won (이경원) divides the world of classical dance into three kingdoms—the metropolis-turned-avantgarde, the torchbearer of tradition, and the remote but emerging new star. Thus : “A ballett competition between France, Russia, and Korea”. Noting that “it had been hard to see this ballet in Korea”, Lee presents a comparative discussion of two guest performances and one domestic production, all of which can be seen during the next weeks which certainly will “arise the interest of afficionados.”

As an exercise in translation, I will provide the three mini-reviews in English, one by one over the course of the next days (or weeks…), starting with the “unconventionally grotesque” [파격적 엽기] production by the Ballet de L’Opéra de Lyon (choreography by Mats Ek):

"Giselle", The Lyon Opera Ballet (via 서울 신문)

Grand plié, battement tendu, brise, changement

These are ballet terms. French terms. Beginning with the terminology, France has a great confidence in being called the mother country of ballett. However, while the center of gravity [무게 중심] of classical ballet has moved to Russia, recently quite a lot of modern productions that destroyed the [classical] form [형식을 파괴한] were shown in France. Likewise, the Giselle staged by the ensemble of the National Opera of Lyon is a version full of unconventional twists.


(via france-russie2010.fr, photo: Jean-Pierre Maur

Originally, Giselle tells the story of a young country girl’s sublime love: betrayed by her lover she dies prematurly and, even as a ghost, protects Albrecht, the man she had loved. In contrast, the Lyon Opera Ballet’s Giselle is somewhat grotesque [다소 엽기적이다]. Giselle, shocked by the failed love, turns mad and is admitted into a mental ward. The original choreography by Mats Ek (Sweden) reinterprets [재해석하다] Giselle from an existentialist perspective [실존주의적 관점에서].

Giselle’s body—absent-minded and without focus, or tumbling like a stiff wood block—lays bare the injury, exhaustion, and misery after being strung along by the man she loves. Without pointe shoes, crisscrossing bare-footed [토슈즈를 벗고 맨발로 누비는], Giselle’s appearance, while very basic, has a dream-like effect.

Guest performance at the Songnam Arts Center

Anyone who wants to see this production, on show at the opera house of Songnam Arts Center (성남아트센터 오페라하우스) in Gyeongi-do on Oct. 29 and 30, will find all necessary information here.

To be continued…

— 22 Oct. 2010 (金)

About Jan Creutzenberg

Jan Creutzenberg, friend of theatre, music, and cinema, comments on his performative experiences in Seoul and elsewhere.
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