Pas De Quatre Ballet Converted into Interesting Modern Dance

Korea Times (Seoul, Korea), June 30, 1999 | Go to article overview

Pas De Quatre Ballet Converted into Interesting Modern Dance


Nam Jung-ho, 47, professor at the Korean National University of Arts' school of dance, staged a modern dance June 24-25 as a part of the National Theater of Korea's monthly ``Ballet with Commentary'' performances, despite the fact that the stage has been used exclusively for classical ballet since the National Ballet Company of Korea started the popular series in 1997.

Nam's choreography re-adapts Jules Perrot's ``Pas de Quatre'' into a modern dance she calls the ``'99 Parody Pas de Quatre.''

Perrot starred four world renowned ballerinas in his ambitious choreography of the Pas de Quatre in 1845, giving equal emphasis on the fortes of each of the four rivals. As their former dance partner, lover and husband, the choreographer was able to work with his personal and professional understanding of their characters and forms in order to bring out each dancer's individual spirit and attractiveness. The result was a harmonious piece that culminated as a dance of love.

Drawing inspiration from Perrot, Nam staged four pairs of dancers from National Ballet and cast them each into modern dance interpretations of the four kinds of love possible between a man and a woman; one pair represents Platonic love, another passionate love, the third marriage- oriented love and the fourth egocentric and intellectual love.

All four treatments were a hit with the audience.

As an introductory section, four male dancers in shorts took the stage in a series of sporty, dynamic movements reminiscent of gymnasts and bodybuilders, triggering amusement among the audience that was expecting demure classical ballet.

Sure enough, four female dancers, distinguished by different costumes, followed the men and danced to the classical ballet music of the original Pas de Quatre.

The blatant introduction of a sports image in the modern variation brought out the competitive spirit that had sparked the original Pas de Quatre, but took things a step further by drawing the audience in as if at a sports competition rather than at a ballet.

By the amused applause and cheers that came throughout the performance, it was evident that Nam had succeeded in not only replanting classical ballet motif into modern dance, but had also successfully combined the spirit of classical dance with art.

After the introductory dance of the four male and female dancers, each pair performed their assigned themes. The costume of each female dancer distinctly showed the different characteristics they embodied, making it easier for the audience to understand the movements on stage. But there was no distinction among male dancers who are regarded supporters.

The female dancer in Platonic love wore a high school uniform; the dancer in passionate love, a red striped costume with red shoes and bright red lipstick; the dancer of marriage-oriented love wore a wedding dress; and the egocentric dancer sported a black suit. …

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