One of the best parts about living in Seoul is that Korea is right next door to Russia, home to the greatest ballet dancers in the world. Many traditional Russian ballets are performed in Korea. There is even a ballet company with a mix of Korean and Russian dancers called The Universal Ballet Company. Last Friday I went to see the Universal Ballet Company perform the traditional Russian ballet, “Onegin.” I even dragged two of my girlfriends with me this time (and they actually enjoyed it and didn’t fall asleep). This ballet is based on the novel “Eugene Onegin” by Alexander Pushkin. This ballet is not one of the popular ones in America, which made it important for me to see while I’m out here on the other side of the world. Even though the music to the ballet was by the very familiar composer, Tchaikovsky, it was the first time I had ever heard the music for this ballet. Apparently this was the first time for this ballet to be shown in Korea and it is only the second Asian company to have the rights to perform the ballet.
The story of the ballet is a dramatic love story that ends in tragedy. Onegin is a wealthy Russian man who is very arrogant and looks down upon country women, like Tatyana, who falls in love with him. He shows disinterest towards her and doesn’t realize his mistake until later in life when she is already married. He attempts to get her back when he is aging and gray, but she refuses to break apart her marriage. In the end he is denied by Tatyana and left to live his life alone forever. The dancer who played Onegin’s character did an excellent job and really made the audience hate him and his pompous attitude. The ending is very dramatic. Although you want to be happy that Tatyana rejected him after he was such a jerk, it is still emotional to see the pain she is going through. She had to reject her true love, but in her heart she did the right thing. The set design and costumes were simple, but gorgeous and the dancers were perfect. It was refreshing to see a ballet other than the classics like “Swan Lake” and “Giselle” that I have seen over and over again.