Hong Kong Ballet
Sha Tin Town Hall
Reviewed: Mar 28 and 29
This is a well-constructed programme featuring Balanchine's classic Theme and Variations and The Way Alone, a new work commissioned from Stephen Baynes, resident choreographer of the Australian Ballet.
Theme and Variations was disappointingly tentative on the opening night but came together well at the second performance, led by Chantel Elizabeth Roulston and Wei Wei (right). Wei gave a superb account of the main male solo with its multiple double tours en l'air, and Roulston zipped through the technical intricacies with blinding confidence and an infectious sense of fun.
In the second section, the grand pas de deux from Petipa's The Sleeping Beauty saw the principal role debut of corps de ballet member Liu Yu-yao, who confirmed her promise as a dancer of exceptional lyricism and fluidity. In the same role, Faye Leung was splendidly regal and assured.
The pas de quatre choreographed by the ensemble's artistic director John Meehan for Swan Lake was clever, demanding and witty. Both casts were excellent and Kyoko Tomimura breathtaking, as was Jin Yao's glittering performance in Balanchine's Tchaikovsky Pas de Deux.
It was a pleasure to see Nobuo Fujino return to the company in the same piece, with a playful Leung.
For The Way Alone, Baynes made an eclectic but satisfying selection of music including excerpts from The Liturgy of St John Chrysostom.
Technically, the outstanding feature was the highly original and demanding double work, culminating in two extended duets performed magnificently by Leung and Brett Simon. It's a beautiful work, and was enhanced by Bacchus Lee's elegant set design and Billy Chan's atmospheric lighting. It marks a milestone for the company as its first commissioned work with the potential to enter the international ballet repertoire.