The biggest joint production from the schools of Dance and Music at the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts in recent years, Side By Side is a showcase of the city's next generation of performing talent. The show features four programmes: a ballet, Troppo Allegro; a modern dance work, The New Territories; a Chinese dance piece, Ambuscade; and an excerpt from the broadway musical Victor Victoria. As part of Le French May, renowned French conductor Francois-Xavier Roth will lead the Academy Symphony Orchestra in Troppo Allegro and The New Territories. The music for Ambuscade, composed by well-known local composer Kung Chi-shing, will be performed by Kung and the Academy Chinese Orchestra. Susan Street, artistic director of the show and Dean of Dance at the Academy, says Side By Side is a wonderful event for teenagers who don't often attend dance or music performances. 'It's a very good introduction because it shows the four different styles [of dance] individually and specifically.' According to Street, the style of classical ballet is very 'upright and lifted'. In modern dance, there is 'more weight and heaviness' in the body giving a more grounded and organic feeling. As for musical theatre, it is technically very demanding as performers must act, sing and dance all at one time. Street says there are identifiable cultural symbols in traditional Chinese dance. Ambuscade uses the techniques of 'long sleeve', a style that has a long history in Chinese culture. Choreographer Mui Cheuk-yin and the academy's Head of Chinese Dance Sheng Pei-qi reinterpret the traditional dance form in this contemporary show. 'The long sleeves are tools for practising dancing, but they are also pieces of clothing, which relate to daily life or relationships,' said Mui. 'They can be soft, powerful or aggressive. For example, when applied to relationships between men and women, they can be symbols of intimacy or constraint.' Yvonne Tsai Yuen-on, a 22-year-old student dancer who will perform in Ambuscade, describes traditional Chinese dance as 'soft in appearance but tough in essence ... There's a rhythm in Chinese dance. It has the flavour of a traditional Chinese woman.' For many Academy students like Tsai, Side By Side will be their graduation performance and Street hopes that Hong Kong audiences will come to the show to witness the coming-of-age of a group of local stage performers. 'This is the next generation of Hong Kong's most talented dancers. They are world-class students. Everyone in Hong Kong, not just young people, should be proud of them,' says Street. 'Hong Kong is mainly known as a banking and financial city, and it's thriving art scene is one of the city's best kept secrets.' Side By Side will run May 13-14 at 8pm in the Lyric Theatre at the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts. Call 3128 8288 for reservations.