Adventures Of The Two Ducklings

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 29 July, 1997, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 29 July, 1997, 12:00am

Adventures Of The Two Ducklings, International Arts Carnival, City Hall, July 25 There was something rather church hall-ish about this, the Hong Kong Dance Company's first show for children.

This tale of ducklings was not at all ugly, but it was also not a swan among shows.

The story was interestingly familiar. Beloved infant(s) snatched by foreign pirates, kept captive, and returned in a healthy-though-homesick state after various brave acts by the representatives of the Great Wall. All very politically correct.

The parallels of Two Ducklings and wui gwai were spelled out by two municipal-looking narrators with microphones. They wore long blue skirts and crisp white shirts, and acted rather as if they were doing the introductions for a Provisional Urban Council Press conference.

When you think they could have been bouncing around in muppet-like bird costumes, bright jumpsuits or anything else that choreographer Ying Longping could have conjured up, you can only think what a wasted opportunity.

And besides, if a children's dance show needs regular and lengthy injections of narration, then something has gone wrong.

There was a cast of dozens of under-10s: the cute parade of baby girls in duck costumes with nappy-like waggling bottoms was particularly - and deservedly - a hit.

But the adults - panto-style king and queen, Western pirates (why, I wonder, did they not make them of the South China seas variety), and to a lesser extent the dashing Shaolin Monk, suffered from too many set pieces.

If you have members of a professional dance company and a waltz is called for, why not dazzle the audience with a real waltz, rather than half-heartedly to-ing and fro-ing.

There were good moments - the dance of the lotus leaves, the final celebration at the foot of the Great Wall - and the mostly tiny audience seemed to enjoy the evening.

But it lacked the style and magic of the City Contemporary Dance Company's works for children.