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American Ballet Theatre’s Seo Hee returns to Korea after 11 years with ‘Romeo & Juliet’

From left, Kang Mi-sun, principal dancer at Universal Ballet Company (UBC), Seo Hee, principal dancer at American Ballet Theatre, and UBC soloist Lee Yoo-lim pose after a press conference for the UBC's upcoming 'Romeo & Juliet' at the Universal Art Center in Seoul’s Gwangjin District, Wednesday. Courtesy of UBC

The Universal Ballet Company (UBC), marking its 40th anniversary this year, will present Kenneth MacMillan’s iconic ballet “Romeo & Juliet” from Friday to Sunday.The performance will be particularly special as Seo Hee, principal dancer with the American Ballet Theatre (ABT), returns to the Korean stage after 11 years to dance Juliet. Seo first debuted as Juliet in 2009 at ABT and has since become a beloved interpreter of the role.”When I first danced Juliet, I thought this was the dance for me. I thought I did it so well back then. But even after 15 years, it keeps getting harder and feeling more burdensome,” she said, expressing the increasing weight she feels in portraying such an iconic character during a press conference at the Universal Art Center in Seoul’s Gwangjin District, Wednesday.”It seems that while I used to think about the text when performing the work, now I think about the individual words. I do this in order to create an impact on the audience when I perform each scene,” Seo added.She danced MacMillan’s Juliet numerous times, but the upcoming performance holds more significance as it marks her first portrayal of Juliet on home soil. The 38-year-old, who made history as ABT’s first Asian principal dancer, will share the stage with Daniel Camargo, another principal from ABT, as Romeo. Premiered in 1965, MacMillan’s “Romeo & Juliet” has garnered critical acclaim and established itself as the British choreographer’s magnum opus, elevating him to the ranks of a master of dramatic ballet. It has been praised for capturing the essence of Shakespeare’s original work with emotional depth and theatrical brilliance.

Seo’s favorite and most challenging scene is the famous “Balcony Pas de Deux,” where the young couple expresses their fiery love through intricate choreography on the balcony.The ABT dancer dedicated particular focus on encapsulating the sentiment of first love, which is the essence of the scene. “I strived to avoid replicating my past performances, constantly pursuing new depths and dimensions in my portrayal,” Seo said.In Korea, the UBC premiered the piece in 2012 and restaged it in 2016. Now, eight years after its last performance, the UBC chose “Romeo & Juliet” to congratulate the company’s 40th anniversary.Julia H. Moon, general director of UBC, expressed her heartfelt gratitude to the company’s patrons and supporters.”On this special occasion, we wanted to showcase a grand masterpiece that we haven’t often had the opportunity to present as a token of our deepest appreciation for our audiences,” Moon noted, reflecting on the four decades that the UBC has spent traversing the landscape of the Korean ballet 슬롯놀이터 scene.


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