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Universal Ballet of Korea will stage four performances of Swan Lake, showing off its seamless merging of Asian culture and Western ballet.
ONE of the world’s best-loved classical ballets will be given an Eastern twist at the Joburg Theatre: Pyotr Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake is being presented by the Universal Ballet of Korea for four exclusive performances from 16 to 18 March.

Dancers are from Merging Asian and European cultureUniversal Ballet of Korea is a 60-member ballet company based in Seoul, South Korea, with dancers and staff from more than a dozen countries in Asia, Europe and the United States. The company seamlessly merges Asian culture and Western ballet, and its performance of Swan Lake is no exception.

“Dedicated to preserving the rich tradition of European classical ballet and at the same time following the trends in contemporary choreography, the company continues to be the leading force of ballet in Korea,” says the show’s publicist, Collett Dawson.

Founded in 1984, the ballet company has grown in size and reputation. Since 1995, it has performed 438 shows in 18 countries outside South Korea, and is now in the middle of a three-year world tour, which includes a stop in Johannesburg.

Swan Lake was first performed at the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow in 1877 to a score commissioned from Tchaikovsky; it was the first of his three major ballet scores. The production was not successful, though, so changes were made and the version so well known today was created in St Petersburg at the Maryinski Theatre.

The famous second scene – where Siegfried meets Odette next to the lake and all the swans – was choreographed by Lev Ivanov in 1894 for a memorial concert marking Tchaikovsky’s death the previous year. The full-length version was brought to life by Ivanov and Marius Petipa a year later, premiering on 27 January 1895.

Numerous changes have been made over the years by choreographers; the most prominent of these may be regarded as the revisions made by Konstantin Sergeyev in 1950 and American Ballet Theatre in 2000.

The version performed by the Universal Ballet of Korea is the Petipa and Ivanov one, which includes revisions made by Oleg Vinogradov, who took over from Sergeyev as head of the ballet company at the Maryinski Theatre.

Costume design is by Galina Solovieva, set design by Simon Pastukh and lighting design by Kyungwon Seo. The company’s performances have garnered acclaim during its world tour. A critic for The New York Times commented: “Nor can every company drill into its corps de ballet the outstanding precision and attention to stylistic detail that the Universal Ballet from South Korea demonstrated in Swan Lake.”

Performances at the Joburg Theatre will take place on 16 March at 8pm; 17 March at 3pm and 8pm; and 18 March at 3pm. Tickets range from R250 to R340, with limited premium seating available at R400. A 10 percent discount on all seating areas will be given to groups of 10 people or more. Tickets can be bought directly on the Joburg Theatre website or by phoning the theatre’s ticketing line on 0861 670 670.

Swan Lake will be presented at the Joburg Theatre in association with M-Net. The Joburg Theatre Complex can be found on Loveday Street in Braamfontein.

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