Russian ballet shows in South Korea cancelled for a second time

FILE PHOTO: Zakharova and other dancers perform during a rehearsal of "The Sleeping Beauty" at the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow
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SEOUL (Reuters) - A ballet show in South Korea featuring principal dancers from Russia's Bolshoi Ballet was cancelled a day before opening night, the organiser said on Monday, amid tensions between Seoul and Moscow over Ukraine and North Korea.

The last minute cancellation came after Seoul performances of a ballet starring Svetlana Zakharova, a Ukrainian-born Russian prima ballerina and a vocal supporter of Russian President Vladimir Putin, were called off in March.

The Russian embassy in South Korea expressed "deep regret" over the latest cancellation.

"We can't help but notice that South Korea is now showing a certain tendency in its approach to cooperation with Russia in the cultural field as well," the embassy said on its social media account.

"We will have no choice but to consider this."

South Korea has joined Western economic sanctions on Russia, suspended transactions with Russian institutions, and regulated the exports of some strategic items, including electronics and semiconductors, in response to Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

Seoul and Moscow have also clashed over Seoul's decision to impose sanctions against Russian individuals and entities which it said were carrying military cargo to North Korea or were linked to North Korea's nuclear and missile programs.

The performances, due to take place from Tuesday to Thursday, initially featured 12 principal performers from the Bolshoi Ballet at the Sejong Center for the Performing Arts in Seoul.

The programme was then modified to reduce the number of Russian performers with changed content.

However, the show's organiser on Monday announced the cancellation on social media, saying the alterations to the show's cast and programme were not accepted by the concert hall.

(Reporting by Joyce Lee; Editing by Ros Russell)