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[Review-Impressions Danse] Shim Chung in Paris
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► This article was written in French.
The legend of Shim Chung, at Palais des Congrès de Paris (Sep. 29, 2012)
This spectacle that I had not necessarily planned to go to see, but an exchange of tweets between two enthusiastic balletomanes awakened my curiosity.
Based in Seoul, the universal Ballet, of which the name a bit pompous and thus could cause (wrongly/by mistake) suspicion, is a company of international classic ballet that unites dancers of twelve different nationalities. It undertook since 2011 a tour in more than 40 cities around the world that must end next year and passed this weekend by Paris (the dates scheduled in all zeniths of France having been annulled for technical problems). Little advertisement and even less of information on this troop's nature, with the exception of those that one can find on its Facebook and learn at second hand from the mouth-to-ear that Twitter permits.
In the evening of the spectacle, the Asian community, obviously well informed about the program, was present in the room which made a warm and friendly atmosphere than how it usually is in Palais des Congrès. No programs were on sale but flyers containing the synopsis, the troop's short presentation and even the distribution were kindly distributed by the ushers. The photographers occupied the whole rows that were left empty in spite of the discount price of tickets on the sites of resale. Because I obtained my ticket as one of those photographers, I could not choose my seat, and I quickly lost my sense of direction when someone indicated my place to be “the furthest seat at the back” although I prefer to go down the steps than to go up.
The legend of Shim Chung tells the history of a girl devoted herself to her blind father, until she sacrifices her life to help him regaining his view. The curtain opens up on a landscape with villagers which reminding us Giselle, where a blind man waits for his child's birth. Soon after, one of the villager deposits his baby in his arms announces him at the same time that he has just lost his wife, dead in bed. The years pass, symbolized by crossings of the two characters in apron, the child grows. First, a mini western Shim Chung appeared followed by a small charming Korean girl guiding her father, until the entry of the beautiful Hyemin Hwang.
Sweetness, amplitude, ball, I was conquered from the beginning by this soloist who evolves with as much lyricism as lightness. Simple costume design, charming decors, it was easy to follow the story even without having the synopsis under the eyes (I only read it during the intermission). One evening, the father loses the balance and falls into a river whereas his daughter is absent. A Buddhist traveler who passed saves him and promises him to return him the view in return for 300 bags of rice (yes, I understood well" 300 bags of rice" only through the mime - or anyway" a lot of money"). The father accepts without suspecting the consequence, and it is exactly when his daughter returned that he becomes aware of his family being way too poor to afford.
In order to help her father to pay for the Buddhist Temple, Shim Chung chooses to sell herself to a gang of sailors that terrorizes the village in search of a human sacrifice to calm the King of the Sea. Men’s corps de ballet led by Hyonjun Rhee impressed us by its perfect coordination: the dancers get over the technical difficulties in group with a disconcerting (bewildering) easiness. We were also lucky to see to a demonstration of feat of the sailors that executes big jumps and turns in solo or in duet. Moreover, I was seduced by the fluidity of the dance by the Koreans and the feline gracefulness with which they seem to slip on soil.
In the second act, we find the girl scared on the bridge of the boat, of which the expanded veils behind and in apron give the impression to the public to embark him also. Another demonstration by a group of sailors, who use some sticks ingeniously as oars, soon as the bars of a jail in which whirl Shim Chung, it raise her as on a raft. The night is auspicious to the aerial apparition of fairies, the heroine recognizes her father from time to time, before dawn awaken by the storm and she constraints to throw herself to the sea.
In the second act, Shim Chung convinces the King of the Sea (Yu Zheng) to let carry her up to the surface, in spite of her desire to marry him. A video shows the girl in the streams to rush to the pursuit of a fish that leads her until the court of the King of the Sea. Tights brightness colors pastels, coifs shellfish or seahorses, the transformed dancers offered us an aquatic ballet that enhances a blameless technique and of the lines perfect. The soloists give all evidence of a remarkable musicality, especially when one considers the poverty of the partition. Shim Chung appears in the middle of the stage at the moment we don’t wait for long and disappears in the same way raising the flower of Lotus by which the King of the Sea sent back to the earth.
In the third act, the Korean emperor in person has the surprise to see to emerge the girl of the flower that one brings to him. Touched by her narration, he proposes him on her turn to become his Queen, which she accepts with joy. All partially-sighted of the country are invited to the marriage ceremony, during which Shim Chung evidently meets her father. Surprisingly, the Buddhist monk returns the view to all present blinds this day. The moonlight pas-de-deux between the emperor (Jaeyong Ohm) and the Queen is marked by the fluidity of movement evoked earlier, without bringing up the emotion, once again due to a lack of a musical apogee. The final entertainment mingles traditional dances and corps-de-ballet with the talented simplicity that makes the success of the company.