By Kim Ji Hoe and Kim Young Shin
Korean ballet dancers for the first time performed a Korean ballet in Bogota, Colombia’s capital city.
The Korean National Ballet on June 30 staged “Heo Nanseolheon-Suwolkyeonghwa” (허난설헌-수월경화), a modern ballet depicting the life of Joseon female poet Heo Nanseolheon (1563-1589) at the Teatro Mayor Julio Mario Santo Domingo in Bogota.
The ballet was invited to the city by Ramiro Osorio Fonseca, director general of the theater and former culture minister of Colombia, who saw the performance in Korea last May.
“This shows the quintessence of Korean ballet,” said the director.
Choreographer Gabrielle Kang designed 55 minutes of ballet based on two of the 1,000-or-so poems written by Heo Nanseolheon.
The first half of the ballet, with gayageum (가야금) and geomungo (거문고) zithers playing in the background, is about the happy part of the poet’s life, as described in her poem “Gamwu” (감우, 感遇), which means “to sing just as one feels.”
In the second half of the performance, dancers perform the poet’s tragic latter years due to her apathetic husband and the death of her two children. They move as falling petals to portray a verse from the poem “Mongyu gwangsang san” (몽유광상산, 夢遊廣桑山) that says, “Twenty-seven crimson lotus blossoms fall onto cold frost lit by the moonlight.”
“This is a first for the Korean National Ballet to perform in Central or South America,“ said Kang Suejin, artistic director at the Korean National Ballet. “We will take this as an opportunity to expand our reach and to present brand new stagings of Korean ballets.”