Three tales from flagship troupes

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 14 May, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 14 May, 2006, 12:00am

The companies will present different stories in their performances but all will share a common thread

THE OPENING performance of the Hong Kong Dance Festival 2006 on June 8 is Dance Trinity, so called because it involves performances from Hong Kong's three flagship dance companies: the Hong Kong Ballet, the Hong Kong Dance Company and the City Contemporary Dance Company.

Each company is presenting a different story through its performance, but all three presentations portray real-life themes, from tales of love to struggles for power, to the Monday morning blues.

Trinity provides a unique and invaluable opportunity for Hong Kong people to appreciate these homegrown but world-class contemporary and classical dance companies under one billing.

'Many people in Hong Kong have the perception that visiting dance companies are better than local dance companies simply because they are from overseas, but this is not the case,' said Stephen Jefferies, artistic director of the Hong Kong Ballet.

'By taking part in Trinity, we can show the audience that we have high-class, international-standard dance companies in Hong Kong.'

The Hong Kong Ballet will be performing Acts II and III from Turandot, which the company performed to rave reviews in Spain last year.

The ballet is based on Italian composer Giacomo Puccini's opera of the same name and the dance company's contemporary interpretation results in a ballet that the audience will relate to with its emotional tale of love, hate, devotion and sacrifice.

'Our version of Turandot is an original production tailor-made for our dancers, who dance it beautifully,' Mr Jefferies said.

'In 10 years of being with the company I believe it is one of our best productions.

'It shows off the company magnificently.'

An excerpt from the dance production Red Poppies will be presented by the Hong Kong Dance Company and the performance aims to promote traditional Chinese dance culture with a modern twist.

Executive director Yuen Lup-fun said: 'Red Poppies is a typical example of a traditional Chinese dance drama and is representative of our aims. This is why it was chosen for the festival.'

Red Poppies is based on the eponymous award-winning novel by Tibetan author Alai. The Hong Kong Dance Company presents a tale about family struggles, power, politics, wealth, love and tragedy in which a village chieftain must choose one of two sons to succeed him - the heir apparent or the youngest son, who is considered an idiot by many.

According to the dance troupe, it is a story in which social development and the sublimation of the human spirit intertwine.

Mr Yuen expected the festival to bring dance culture to a wider audience in Hong Kong and serve as a key reason for their participation in the event.

Mr Jefferies said: 'We believe the festival will push dance to a higher level of perception in the minds of Hong Kong audiences and will reinforce the innovativeness that exists in local dance companies.'

Although Hong Kong audiences were more reserved than overseas audiences, they were becoming more educated about dance and there was increasing support for a dance culture in Hong Kong, he said.

'We do a lot of promotions, putting a great deal of effort and resources into this area and believe our efforts are paying off as audience figures are increasing every year.'

Examples of the company's promotional activities include lectures and demonstrations in schools, dance workshops, young dancer training and school holiday classes.

The company also puts on popular classic performances, such as Sleeping Beauty and The Nutcracker, which always attract a large audience and mix these with new productions to further educate the audience.

The Hong Kong Dance Company also offers dance education programmes for schools, providing regular dance classes and holding performances in schools.

Mr Yuen said a key problem for all dance companies in Hong Kong had been poor audience attendance, which limited the number of performances.

He attributes this to a lack of understanding and a misperception by many people that dance is hard to comprehend because the story is told through movement and music, not words. However, he believes things are starting to change.

'Hong Kong audiences are becoming more knowledgeable about dance, largely because of the continuous efforts of all Hong Kong dance groups through their staging of innovative creations that portray emotions, concepts and ideals that relate to the audience's own lives,' Mr Yuen said.

Mr Jefferies said: 'The festival is a great initiative and an excellent chance for the public to see Hong Kong dance at its best. In addition, it provides an opportunity to experience many quality performances in a short time.'

Famed choreographer Noel Pong from the City Contemporary Dance Company will be presenting a piece named Rainy Days and Mondays..., which involves a storyline about a freaky boss, fussy office ladies, suits and a day in the office that starts with sunny weather but ends in a storm.