Serenade and More

Dance, Ballet
3 out of 5 stars
Shot of male and female dancers for Serenade And More

The HK Ballet closes its 2015-16 season with a magnificent four show production.

The Hong Kong Ballet ended the current 2015/6 season on a high note with a mixed programme including two world premieres. The programme opened with Balanchine’s 1934 early masterpiece 'Serenade' which was first staged by the Hong Kong Ballet two years ago.

This time the company’s guest principal Tan Yuanyuan danced the lead female role – the waltz ballerina. The second female lead role – the Russian ballerina - was joyously danced by Jin Yao who was musical and even more Balanchinean. It’s a pity that this ballet was danced to taped music this time instead of live orchestral accompaniment. The corps de ballet was rather mechanical perhaps as a result of this. But this revival did not match the high standard of the company’s performances two years ago.

The better of the two premieres was created by the Taiwanese choreographer Edwaard Liang. Entitled 'Sacred Thread', the choreographer mentioned in the programme notes his inspiration from traditional Chinese weddings as well as the uncertainty and freedom of relationships. Set to propulsive music by John Adams, Liang’s choreography is certainly musical and full of vitality. The leading couple, excellently danced by Liu Yuyao and Li Jiabo, seem to have an uneasy relationship, as shown by their tense pas de deux in the middle of the work. Even the finale, which seems to be a wedding celebration, doesn’t feel all that joyful and lacks a resolution.

The other premiere was by the Chinese choreographer Fei Bo, whose most famous work is 'The Peony Paviliion' for the National Ballet of China. 'Shenren Chang' supposedly expresses the Chinese concept of unity of man and universe in the spiritual realm. There is a dominant goddess figure who seems to lead mankind in a journey from darkness to light which symbolises hope. So the dancers appropriately wear white leotards in the end instead of black in the beginning. Jin Yao was superb as the goddess, dazzling in her sinuous solo. This piece is theatrical but is muddled at times. In the middle, a female dancer collapses for some unknown reason.

Hong Kong Ballet also presented an earlier piece 'Over There' by Fei Bo, featuring two guest dancers from the National Ballet of China. This short and slight duet is rather sentimental, about an unforgettable place in one’s memory. It was nevertheless danced with high spirits by Zhan Xin-lu and Wang Ji-yu.

By: Kevin Ng

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