Know Your Ballet Music

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 06 February, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 06 February, 2007, 12:00am

Know Your Ballet Music

Kwai Tsing Theatre

Reviewed: Feb 3 (matinee)

Now in its fifth year, the Hong Kong Sinfonietta's Know Your ... series has made classical ballet the subject of its arts education efforts.

The foyer of the theatre was full of teenagers, boys outnumbering girls three to one, with families squeezed around the edge.

A show of hands confirmed that many in the capacity crowd had already attended a full-length ballet; they were there to learn more. The accessible programme notes were a good start, but conductor Yip Wing-sie's geniality was the pivot. Her stage chat with John Meehan (above), artistic director of the Hong Kong Ballet, was amusing and informative.

The orchestra opened with snippets of dance music in high art (from Gluck to Delibes) before ballet company members took to the stage. The programme ended with Tchaikovsky, so classical swans were a bearable inevitability.

Jin Yao's solo work (as Fokine's dying swan and Nutcracker's candied fairy) was impressively elegant. Extracts from Tchaikovsky's Swan Lake were given neat point-work by Anri Shiga, Selina Chau, Catherine Lau and Aurora Kwong in Dance of the Swans, while the high lifts in Wu Fei-fei and Huang Zhen's pas de deux drew appreciative gasps from the young audience, ever attentive in the balcony.

The orchestra's contribution was variable. The audience was rapt during the opening three pieces. But the playing ranged from taut to tired, with several pieces off their proper tempo.