Swan Lake

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 31 March, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 31 March, 2009, 12:00am

Swan Lake

Hong Kong Ballet

Sha Tin Town Hall

Reviewed: Mar 27

Restaged here last week following a tour to Beijing in January, Hong Kong Ballet's Swan Lake - put on two years ago by then artistic director John Meehan, with new choreography by him and dancers Carlo Pacis and Selina Chau, remains a disappointing production of a great classic.

Renewed viewing confirms that although the extensive new choreography for Acts I and III is competent enough, it doesn't live up to the traditional Petipa version or do justice to Tchaikovsky's score.

The company's standard of classical dancing has risen since the production was first staged and in general was technically strong. But technique isn't everything, and the performance felt oddly subdued for a company which has always been known for the energy and individuality of its dancers.

The corps de ballet of swans were drilled as impeccably as a guards regiment - unfortunately, they also had about as much expression. The dance of the four cygnets was cast with dancers of different heights, which spoiled the effect.

On the plus side, the virtuoso Act I pas de quatre was danced with verve and precision by Kyoko Tomimura, Camilla Vergotis, Pacis and Kenji Hidaka. Chantel Elizabeth Roulston danced with pleasing elegance and restraint as Odette and pulled off the pyrotechnics of the Black Swan pas de deux in style as Odile. She managed 30 of the infamous 32 fouettes and if she came to grief going one fouett?too far, it was good to see her take the risk and try.

But it takes two for the love story to work, and - try as she might - Roulston got little response from her prince, Zhang Yao. His dancing is good and his partnering exceptional, but his lack of expression prevents him making the impact he should.