South Korean ballerina Kim Seh-yun who choreographed “Death and the Maiden” in 2017, followed by “Triple Bach” and “Adagio, Souvenir de Florence” is coming back to her home country this year with “Hansel and Gretel,” a well-known fairytale involving a candy house.
Kim performed as a principal dancer of the Universal Ballet and later for the U.S. Boston Ballet, the Swiss Ballett Zürich, and the Dutch National Ballet before she danced as a “primera figura” at the National Dance Company in Spain. Kim introduced Lee Hyun-jeong, who will appear for this year’s show and is a principal dancer of the Wise Ballet Company, as “a dancer who looks the prettiest on stage.”
The two ballerinas’ relationship goes two years ago when they stepped on a stage together as fellow dancers. The two were double cast for “Giselle” as the heroine of the show. “Hansel and Gretel,” produced in collaboration with the Mapo Cultural Foundation and the Wise Ballet, is based on the storyline of an opera with the same title, in which a brother and sister escape from a witch who lures kids into a forest. The show pictures heart-warming family love, following the fairytale-like structure of the original story. Classic ballet-based group dance that fills a stage and outstanding acting of key characters are the highlights of the show. Kim Seh-yun’s sharp eyes for stage production trained in Spain show through.
“To create a ‘candy house,’ a symbolic space in the fairytale, the soil will be scattered across the stage and the smell of bread and butter will also be used. It’s a way to bring the audience’s subconsciousness into the performance,” Kim said. “Although there’s a trend to reduce the scope of stage production in dance, olfactory effects are increasingly more adopted in other genres.”
Costumes and lighting are other factors Kim also pays special attention to. She wants to deliver “an experience like reading a picture book” by using multiple colors. Lee said she was “quite surprised to learn the level of attention Kim pays to every little details” upon witnessing Kim working on the folds of costumes, the angles of lights, etc. at a rehearsal for “Giselle” two years ago. “Good lighting and beautiful costumes can make dancers’ performance look 30% better,” Kim shared a tip.
The two never-satisfied ballerinas had a clear goal – “We will create a ballet performance for families loved by people of all ages, just like the ‘The Nutcracker!’”
“Hansel and Gretel” to be performed on September 20 and 21 at the Art Hall Mac of Mapo Art Center in Seoul. Ticket prices range from 30,000 to 50,000 won. Children aged 48 months or older are allowed.