Three ballerinas, all in different costumes, pile up together. Their facial expressions are too different to believe that they are described as being of one motion. One dancer has a greedy face that looks as if she has finally achieved her life’s goal. Another, who is dressed as a man, has delicate expression on her face. It looks as if she has bid farewell to the girl that she loves. Her feelings are apparent in every muscle of her face. The last does not show her face to the audience, but her emotions are seen by the way she grasps her shoulders: her grief fills the atmosphere. The ballerinas who fascinate the spectators are members of Ballet Blanc, a company organized by Ewha alumnae.
Ballet Blanc originally referred to a romantic-style ballet started in 19th century, in which the female ballerinas all wear white costumes. One of the famous scenes of Ballet Blanc can be found in Le Lac des cygnes (Swan Lake), a famous work composed by Tchaikovsky, where the swans change into human.
“Blanc is a French word meaning white, but it contains more than that. The word represents learning in its origin. Ballet Blanc, as you can see in the name, focuses on maintaining the spirit of Ballet Blanc and making progress on scientific research of dance,” said Kim Hyang-jowa (Dance, Graduate School), who is the current president of the ballet company.
The fact that Ballet Blanc is the first alumnae ballet company in Korea makes it even more special. Its founder, Hong Jung-hee, is the first ballerina to have earned a Master’s degree in Dance and one of the first graduate students who majored in Dance at Ewha. Her first performance at Welch-Ryang Auditorium along with her alumnae in 1958 was a sensation in. Hong’s performance dominated daily newspapers during that time.
Hong decided to establish Ballet Blanc when she became a professor at Ewha. In the 1980s, it was not only hard to find a ballet company in Korea, but those that did exist had difficulty maintaining themselves. Hong decided to establish an alumnae company with the hope that it would endure and make a mark in Korean ballet history.
Hong also plays a magnificent role as an educator. She has mentored many ballerinas of distinguished talent who later became members of Ballet Blanc.
“We are trying to follow Hong’s spirit and I believe that unspoken word will be delivered to Hong by dancing as she did,” said Professor Shin Eun-kyung (Dance) in an interview with Munhwa Daily. Shin is the current head of Ballet Blanc committee.
Since its establishment, critics have praised Ballet Blanc. Although it is named as a ballet company, Ballet Blanc has sought to create new movements. Ballet companies formed by alumnae in other universities found it difficult to make constant improvements, and in the end are gone like the wind. However, Ballet Blanc has tried to keep up with pure creative activities while at the same time accepting traditional western ballet and combining it with Korean dance.
“When people think of ballet, they usually imagine the classics. However, we are trying to use both classic and modern motions. The most important thing for us is to create a balance between them and we concentrate on giving a story to the audience by analyzing the theme with each part of the body,” said Kim.
While being an epoch in Korean ballet history, Ballet Blanc not only performs inside Korea but also actively attracts audiences around the world. The ballerinas had a performance in France at the International Ballet de Dance. They had successful performances in Russia and Australia.
One of the things that makes Ballet Blanc stand out is their effort to perform regularly. This year, Ballet Blanc is going to hold a performance that will give opportunities for young ballerinas to show their talents. Compared to the past when most of the older and experienced ballerinas were the main characters, the plan will be a refreshing scene for the audience. Also, in commemoration of Ballet Blanc’s 30th anniversary, they will present a special performance on the stage.
“We are going to open a new era of ballet by holding various performances. We greet all people who are attracted by the beautiful movement of body motion. Ballet Blanc will keep on creating new motions which will use every inch of our body,” said Kim.
United under the name of Ewha, Ballet Blanc is never afraid attempt to face challenges and to undertake new experiment.
저작권자 © Ewha Voice 무단전재 및 재배포 금지