The Nutcracker Hong Kong Ballet HK Cultural Centre Grand Theatre Reviewed: Dec 14 The Nutcracker at Christmas is the cash cow for ballet companies worldwide and Stephen Jeffries' classic production for Hong Kong Ballet (HKB) is back for its annual run for the 11th year in a row. Act 1 of The Nutcracker is where the Christmas magic lies, while Act 2 is a divertissement which offers a showcase for pure dancing. HKB's The Nutcracker has always been notable for the warmth and sparkle of Act 1, but this time felt lacklustre. The vivid acting and sense of teamwork that distinguished the production in the past seemed muted, although it was still a pleasure to see performances such as Conrad Dy-Liacco's Grandfather and Laura Zambon's Maid. As Young Clara, Li Ming danced extremely well but needs to work on her interpretation. The Waltz of the Snowflakes was a little untidy but should improve into the run. As the Lead Snowflakes, Kyoko Tomimura and Chantel Elizabeth Roulston danced well, but their difference in height jarred on the eye. Act 2 was a delight, with a sensuous Arabian dance from Jin Yao and William Lin, and a fiery Spanish dance from Roulston partnered by Kenji Hidaka. As Clara/The Sugarplum Fairy and her Nutcracker Prince, Faye Leung (below) and Zhang Yao danced magnificently, negotiating the severe technical demands of their two pas de deux with admirable ease and confidence. Their Act 1 pas de deux was the evening's highlight. Peter Farmer's designs were as beautiful as ever and the HK Sinfonietta was in good form under the capable baton of Ormsby Wilkins, a conductor who knows how to do the music justice while remaining sensitive to the dance.