Prima dancers explore life's journey

Life is a journey. We are all in the same boat, no matter who we are. Dancers from the nation's top three troupes ? Korea National Ballet, Universal Ballet and The National Dance Company of Korea ? will be on a boat, literally, to depict a condensed version of life at the show "Endless Voyage."

The show takes place Jan 4-5 at Seoul Arts Center's Opera Theater in Seocho-dong, southern Seoul.

A press call on Tuesday showed a glimpse of what awaits the audience. Korea National Ballet's star ballerina Kim Joo-won leaned back and slowly moved her arms in circles, frowning slightly, at the preview of what's to come. She frantically searched for something but only seemed to fall into a greater despair, seemingly abandoned by something or someone each time.

Lee Jeong-yun, principal dancer at the National Dance Company of Korea and the choreographer of the show, joined her on stage, scooping up invisible sand from the ground and letting it shift between his fingers. He followed Kim and held her as if to share her agony. Drops of sweat, or perhaps tears, dropped down Kim's cheeks when the scene, "Solitude," ended.

"The show can be summarized as a journey. Dancers who each have different stories get on the same cruise and start off an 'endless voyage.' People get on, get off, try to show different sides of oneself, to remember something hopeful, and to heal wounded hearts. It is like our life, and that is what I wanted to show. I wanted to show something anyone can feel," said Lee, who plays the captain of the ship.

Hwang Hye-min and Ohm Jae-yong, both principal dancers from Universal Ballet Company, join the crew but for more romantic reasons. They meet and wed on the cruise, turning the trip into a honeymoon.

The two, who are in fact a couple in real life, shyly pass each other at first, exchanging nervous glances. Eventually they get caught up by their overflowing affection and get lost in dance. A bit cheesy, yes, but sweet nonetheless.

If it had not been for Lee, it would have been difficult to gather such big-name dancers on the same stage. Lee established quite a reputation for unprecedented choreography that requires the participation of famous dancers from different genres. For this show, he mixed techniques from Korean dance, his specialty, and ballet, for the three other dancers.

"There does not seem to be a difference in expressing emotions despite the difference of dance genres. I learned that ballerinas wear toe shoes to be closer to the sky, and the purpose of Korean dance is to be closer to the ground. Dancing Korean dance wearing toe shoes makes my dance more profound. I think the experience will help me even when I do ballet," said Kim, who is working with Lee in a genre-crossing work for the third time.

SAC eagerly hosted the show and made it the first of its ambitious "hallyu series" aimed at promoting Korea's classical productions overseas.

Seven dancers from the National Dance Company of Korea also take part in the show as "Seven Motion" to express the kaleidoscopic human experience.

Media artwork by acclaimed photographer Koo Bohn-chang will be displayed at various moments and spots during the show to add to the philosophical vibe.