The Sleeping Beauty

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 02 November, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 02 November, 2010, 12:00am

The Sleeping Beauty
Hong Kong Ballet
HK Cultural Centre Grand Theatre
Reviewed: Oct 29

Petipa's The Sleeping Beauty is the supreme test of a ballet company's classical skills, demanding both technical brilliance and purity of style from the entire company. Hong Kong Ballet last performed it in May 2006 in Stephen Jefferies' production. The quality of dancing and the company's strength in depth set the bar very high. Sadly, they were less impressive in the new staging by Cynthia Harvey.

Like Jefferies, Harvey offers a conventional, no frills reading of the choreographic text. Act Two leaves much room for creativity and here her version compares poorly to the previous one. The truncated opening scene fails to convey the interplay of the characters and the vision sequence falls flat.

The biggest problem was Mark Bailey's ill-conceived designs. Instead of tutus, the dancers wear floppy skirts which stop just above the knee. The tutu is designed to show off the dancers' legs and line in classical work - Bailey's costumes obscure them. More inappropriate still, the same skirt is used for two of the male soloists. In the Prologue, the queen appeared to be wearing a sofa and the royal palace looked more like a spaceship.

In the title role, Jin Yao (below) shone technically although an otherwise superb account of the grand pas de deux was marred by bizarre arm movements in her main solo. Other female soloists suffered a similar lapse of classical style with flapping hands and writhing wrists which have no place in this ballet.

The Prologue variations were disappointing apart from a sparkling Jae-eun Park. On the plus side guest artist Friedemann Vogel made an ideal Prince with his elegance of line, clean technique and magnificent partnering. There was an exquisite Bluebird pas de deux from Yo Takahira and Li Ming, with Takahira literally floating in the air and the other fairy tale characters in Act Three were also well danced.

All in all, however, it is clear that the Ballet has lost ground as a classical ensemble and only time will tell whether they can get back to their previous level.

The Sleeping Beauty runs until Nov 7. Tickets: HK$140 to HK$1,000.


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