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Art preview: hop springs eternal for choreographer

Mabel Sieh

 

NOT ONE TO shy away from giving wellknown classics his own treatment, choreographer Yuri Ng Yue-lit’s latest work for the Hong Kong Ballet, The Frog Prince – A Ballet Chinois, is his take on the Brothers Grimm fairy tale, with a Chinese twist.

Set in the Qing dynasty, it tells the story of a little green frog who helps Princess Moon, the emperor’s favourite consort, to escape as the dynasty ends. The pair fall into a dark well in pursuit of the “golden ball”, a symbol of true love. She can be saved only by a genuine kiss.

“When I think of The Frog Prince, I see a lot of possibilities,” explains Ng, 48. “I see the rich colours of the era and the foreign ambassadors who visit China; I see the different layers of relationships between the emperor and his beloved consort and his mother; I see the nostalgic, exotic notes expressed in the music of Maurice Ravel.”

The idea of featuring a frog in a ballet was probably planted a long time ago; after all, one of his mentors, Jean M. Wong, who has been running her ballet school since 1960, “loves frogs because their legs can ‘turn out’ like ballet dancers’ legs”.

Ng has teamed up with two young choreographers, the Ballet’s Yuh Egami and Ricky Hu Songwei.

“I like how Yuh questions why I do things a certain way.

He is very open and bold in sharing his ideas. Ricky is great, too ... It’s valuable to be able to work with people who are like-minded,” says Ng.

Egami, 30, from Okinawa, Japan, says: “Like a good mentor, [Ng] presents his thoughts and discusses with us why and how we create things. His ability to appreciate beauty and art is an inspiration which takes my imagination to a new level.”

Hu, a 26-year-old dancer from Jiangxi province, says he is inspired by his collaborators: “It’s the first time I’ve worked with Yuri, and he shows me how to look at things from different angles when arranging a dance piece, and how to link music and dance seamlessly.”

Ng says: “I want to trigger people to think and ask why – why the Qing dynasty, why the story, why the music of Ravel – and ultimately to see that nothing is impossible.”

mabel.sieh@scmp.com

 

The Frog Prince – A Ballet Chinois, April 19-21, 8pm; April 20 and 21, 3pm. HK Cultural Centre Studio Theatre. HK$250, HK$350 and HK$500. Tel: 2105 9724

 

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