The ballet company of the Oldenburg National Theatre of Germany is showcasing “Pierrot Lunaire,” a creative dance inspired by Korean traditional dancing as their regular performance in 2019-2020 season. Lee Hye-kyung, who directed the dance drama “Wedding” in Austria in 2015, became the first South Korean to choreograph a regular performance of a European national theatre.
The Dong-A Ilbo had an email interview with Lee, who is directing for the performance in Germany whose premiere is slated on October 12. “I am honored to have an opportunity to promote Korean dance in Europe. I want to put on a performance and earn applause for it fair and square,” she said.
The Pierrot Lunaire is a Korean interpretation of Moonstruck Pierrot, a piece written by Belgium poet Albert Giraud. “I’ve added movements and mise-en-scene that are uniquely Korean to the Pierrot, a symbol of the contemporaries living in fatigue,” explained Lee. “Dancers love it when the Pierrot shows up on a cane made of greyblue spicebush.”
There have been a number of occasions where Korean dance was performed over a short period at festivals or tours abroad, but this is highly unconventional and unusual of a national theatre in Europe to invite a Korean choreographer officially to put on a show themed around Korean dance as main event. The performance is scheduled for a total 15 times until May 2020.
Presenting a Korean dance show at a European national theatre not only evokes fascination but entails heavy pressure. “This is such a valuable opportunity. If recognized this time, we will find the way to promote Korean dance more continuously,” said the Korean choreographer.
The traditionally tough audience of Oldenburg poses another challenge. Opened in 1833, the Oldenburg National Theatre is located in a small city but has reputation for putting on high quality performances. The skill of dancers is exceptional, with the European dance magazine Tanz selecting the Oldenburg’s ballet company as one of the five best dance companies in Europe in 2019. “I am renewing my determination every day,” she said. A heavy sense of responsibility was felt in her words.
“I want to follow the path blazed by Akram Khan, who modernized traditional Indian dance and became a world-renowned choreographer,” explained Lee. “I want to do more than just stressing the exotic hue of Korean dancing or showing off. I want to create a Korean dancing that everyone can sympathize with.”