HK Ballet opens up their season with Tchaikovsky's seminal Swan Lake
Hong Kong Ballet opened its new 2016/7 season in late August with the most famous of ballets, Tchaikovsky's Swan Lake. This is a decent production tailor-made by the previous artistic director John Meehan to suit the limited resources of the company.
The choreography, based on an old American Ballet Theatre production, adheres mainly to the traditional Petipa/Ivanov text used by most Western ballet companies. The additional choreography by Meehan and his team for the Act 3 national dances etc. however is not as good.
The highlight this time was the guest principal dancer Jurgita Dronina from the National Ballet of Canada. She was excellent in the double role of Odette/Odile. As the White Swan Odette, she was meltingly tender and lyrical. Her dancing was musical, and had weight and gravitas. And as Odile the Black Swan, she was dazzling in her technical fireworks which she accomplished with ease and smoothness, especially the final series of turns around the stage.
She however deserved a better partner than Jiabo Li who was only making his debut as the Prince. He didn’t yet have the strength to conquer the technical virtuosity. His solo dancing lacked shape and polish, and he looked flustered. He hardly got off the ground in his jumps. Jonathan Spigner outshone him in his solo in the Italian dance in Act 3.
Also among the supporting performances, Miao-miao Liu impressed in her solo in the Act 1 pas de quatre. The national dances were performed without much stylishness. But the 18 corps de ballet of swans, though lacking uniformity, danced with spiritedness. Peter Farmer’s handsome sets still wear quite well after all these years. This is an encouraging start to the Hong Kong Ballet’s new season, which is also marked by the news that the artistic director Madeleine Onne will leave next summer after eight years in office.