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Coronavirus offers rare chance for overseas Korean ballet stars to perform together at home

Art/Culture 18:15 June 25, 2020

By Kim Boram

SEOUL, June 25 (Yonhap) -- Due to the coronavirus outbreak, nearly all concerts, recitals and theater performances have been canceled around the world, with ballet companies, orchestras and opera productions also suspending their operations. Korean dancers at the world's major ballet companies had to return home.

This unprecedented situation, however, provided 10 of the stars who had led busy lives in Europe and the United States, like Kang Ho-hyun of the Paris Opera Ballet (POB) and Han Sung-woo of the American Ballet Theater (ABT) a race chance to perform together on the same stage.

They will hit the Korea World Dance Stars Festival 2020 at Seoul Arts Center in southern Seoul on Saturday and Sunday, a special gala show that is part of the 11-day annual Ballet Festival Korea that kicked off on June 18.

During a news conference to promote the event on Thursday, the dancers said they have become aware of the preciousness of onstage performance through the novel coronavirus pandemic and expressed their thanks for the rare opportunity to take the stage.

"All cast and staff members of the performing art scene might be desperate and hopeless due to the COVID-19 crisis," Jo Ju-hyun, artistic director of the show, said.

"We've been deprived of the space and time for practice and onstage performances for more than a month," she said. "We haven't seen the audience for a couple of months and learned the importance, preciousness of dance and arts."

Participants of the Korea World Dance stars Festival 2020 pose at a press conference held in Seoul on June 25, 2020. (Yonhap)

"Thanks to the coronavirus, ironically, we can gather all these stars from overseas ballet companies," said Jo, a former principal dancer at the Washington Ballet. "The gala show will present a unique mix of different styles of each company."

In January, before the coronavirus outbreak, POB's Kang and ABT's Han were unable to participate in the show. But a month later, the situation changed as they came back to South Korea because of the closure of their companies.

Han said he has gone through a two-week self quarantine in Korea and is doing his best to get in shape as fast as he can for the first onstage performance in a few months.

"I've never rested for this long since I started ballet," said the ballerino, a corps member at the New York-based troupe. "I know everybody is in trouble due to the coronavirus. I hope everybody will have a good time during our show."

brk@yna.co.kr
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