Hong Kong Ballet
Reviewed: August 30 and 31
Venue: Cultural Centre Grand Theatre
The Hong Kong Ballet has brought back John Meehan's 2007 production of Swan Lake for an extended run of 10 shows over two weekends.
Only possible in this city with hugely popular ballets, this is a vital opportunity to give more dancers experience in major classical roles.
This was illustrated by Ye Feifei as Odette/Odile and Wei Wei as Prince Siegfried, both of whom are dancing these roles for the first time. Ye has appeared as the virtuoso Odile, a natural casting for a dancer of her tremendous technical strength.
Here, the revelation was her Odette. Ye's phrasing, clarity of line and the grandeur of her back and arms showed true understanding of Lev Ivanov's choreography and its consummate expression of Tchaikovsky's music.
Her deeply felt portrayal of the tragic White Swan was beautifully contrasted with a glamorous Odile, cleverly emphasising the references to Odette which make Siegfried believe the swan and princess are one and the same.
As her prince, Wei Wei partnered ably and performed his solos with high jumps and excellent turns. Wei may not be a natural danseur noble, but his commitment to his role and his ballerina, along with his sheer joy at being on stage made his Siegfried a pleasure to watch.
The previous night saw an intelligent interpretation of Odette/Odile from the home team's Zhang Siyuan, paired with 21-year-old guest Kim Kimin of the Mariinsky Ballet.
Kim's solos were sensational, including soaring leaps with velvet-soft landings and a dazzling series of repeated tours en l'air. Although, here, his lack of experience (and the limited rehearsal time) resulted in some wobbly partnering.
Zhang rose above this admirably, dancing with assurance and verve. Her slyly seductive, playful Odile was a stand-out, even if she didn't quite pull off all the difficult technical moves she attempted.
There was also a delightful Act 1 pas de quatre from Shen Jie, Li Ming, Dong Ruixue and Yo Takahira. Li Lin and Li Jia-bo gave strong performances as the evil Rothbart, while Liu Miao-miao was a radiant Russian Princess. Sarah Yeung and Leung Chun-long made a strong impression in the Hungarian Dance.
The corps of swans danced with precision although they have yet to develop the lyricism and expressiveness the choreography calls for.