Dancers bask in Beijing glory

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 31 January, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 31 January, 2009, 12:00am

Performance of timeless classic sets the scene for start of troupe's 30th anniversary celebrations

The Hong Kong Ballet kicked off its 30th anniversary celebrations this year with Swan Lake in Beijing. It will also perform All Bach at this year's Hong Kong Arts Festival. Beijing audiences were thrilled earlier this month with The Hong Kong Ballet's performance of the timeless classic. The company was the first group of performers to take the stage this year at Beijing's Opera House in the National Centre for the Performing Arts. The Beijing tour ran for five days and included three performances, which had an audience of about 6,000. Dancers were rewarded with extended applause and shouts of 'bravo' from the stalls after each act.

Beijing dance critic, Ou Jian Ping, said the performance was outstanding.

'The overall solidity of performance and overwhelming success made it a thrilling prelude to the dazzling line-up of dance performances this year,' said Professor Ou.

The final performance on January 3 was a highlight, and was attended by senior government officials and members of the Beijing dance elite in addition to an array of celebrities, such as Hilton Cheong-leen, Flora Cheong-leen, Gigi Fu Ming-hin and actress Maggie Cheung Man-yuk.

Internationally renowned ballet star and The Hong Kong Ballet guest principal Tan Yuan Yuan, who played the princess, said it was the first time she had performed at Beijing's National Centre, and it was 'a wonderful experience' to work with The Hong Kong Ballet.

'I like the diversity of the [Hong Kong] company,' Tan said. 'They have great coaches, and very talented dancers.'

She teamed up with partner Zhang Yao, one of The Hong Kong Ballet's principal dancers, for the Beijing shows.

The captivating Jin Yao, also a signature principal dancer of The Hong Kong Ballet, shared the demanding role as the swan princess, partnering with Huang Zhen as her prince.

Since its premiere in 1895 in St Petersburg, Swan Lake has become the most popular ballet in the world. While The Hong Kong Ballet's production of Swan Lake is based on the traditional Petipa version, new choreography by artistic director John Meehan, and choreographic apprentices Carlo Pacis and Selina Chau, add a touch of new magic to the production.

The Hong Kong Ballet, one of the leading classical ballet companies in Asia and the only professional ballet company in Hong Kong, will perform Swan Lake at Sha Tin Town Hall in March.

They will also perform as part of a challenging programme of works for the upcoming 37th Hong Kong Arts Festival.