Review: The Legend of the Condor Heroes

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 02 September, 2014, 10:05am
UPDATED : Thursday, 04 September, 2014, 1:29am

The Legend of the Condor Heroes
HK Dance Drama Company
Lyric Theatre, HK Academy for Performing Arts
Reviewed: August 30


Inspired by Louis Cha's celebrated martial arts novel, this Chinese dance drama falls short on narrative but offers some spectacular dancing.

With their epic tales of heroic warriors, scheming villains and long-lost siblings, backed by generous helpings of action, Cha's books are frequently adapted for films, TV and dance.

Veteran choreographer Leung Kwok-shing has built a special relationship with Cha's work, producing an acclaimed trilogy of dance dramas based on his novels for Hong Kong Dance Company, where Leung was artistic director between 2009 and 2013.

After retiring from that company, Leung set up his own group (confusingly called the Hong Kong Dance Drama Company) to bring together Chinese dance artists from Hong Kong and the mainland. This is its first production. A joint venture with the Hubei Performance and Arts Company with guest appearances by top dance artists, the work will tour the mainland after its Hong Kong debut.

In his previous Cha adaptations, Leung did a remarkable job of distilling coherent plots and strongly drawn characters from the sprawling canvas of the books. Here he has taken a more impressionistic approach and the narrative suffers - it's hard to follow the story, or keep track of who is who, let alone be moved by their plight.

Nonetheless there's much to enjoy if you forget about the drama and focus on the dance. Leung's choreography scores strongly in a range of duets that showcase the extraordinary plastique and fluidity of the dancers and inject emotion into the proceedings.

The cast is led by top performers Liu Fuyang as the stalwart hero, and Wang Yabin (above with Liu) as his true love, both making their debut in Hong Kong.

They produced some thrilling moments, including one extraordinary feat of balance and strength. There was also outstanding work from Wang Fei and Ma Shan.