The dismissal of Faye Leung, one of Hong Kong Ballet's three full-time female principals and the company's longest-serving member, could not have come at a worse time. The ballerina was cast in all four pieces in the troupe's Hong Kong Arts Festival programme All Bach, which it will perform in three weeks. Leung is considered an outstanding ballerina who excels in classical roles and modern, narrative and abstract work. She is at her peak as a dancer and is almost invariably picked by visiting choreographers and repetiteurs for leading roles. The decision did not come from artistic director John Meehan but from the company's board. The role of an arts company board is traditionally to raise funds and provide administrative support. But since Meehan announced his resignation in July, questions have been raised about the board's role in the company's artistic direction. 'These people don't even know the dancers ... they don't even know how to dance ... I think that is unfair to everybody,' Leung said. 'We have no clue as to what the new direction is. We have asked the chairman [John Ying] many times ... and [he] keeps saying the new direction is really good for the company, but we don't see it.' The chairman, who by last night had not responded to the Post's inquiries about the decision, has previously denied that he or the board are too interventionist. 'There's a big difference here, and this balance exists on every board,' he said in an interview on the ballet's future last month, adding that all decisions were made 'in a framework, with checks and balances, transparency and partnership'. There is no doubt Mr Ying has a passion for the company and for promoting it at every opportunity. He also has grand plans for the ballet, and wants to make it shine as brightly as it can internationally. Observers believe the decision to dismiss the ballerina may have been prompted by internal politics and an unspoken tension between Leung and the company's guest principal dancer Tan Yuanyuan, who is close to several board members. Leung, however, insists the pair are 'cool'. Whatever the reason, her sacking comes at a time when the 30-year-old Hong Kong Ballet - which receives HK$32 million a year from public coffers that provides 65 per cent of its operational budget - is garnering rave reviews and critical recognition. One Beijing critic described their recent production of Swan Lake in the capital as one of 'overall solidity of performance and overwhelming success, [making] it a thrilling prelude to the dazzling lineup of dance performances this year'. Last month's Dance Europe said the Hong Kong performance of Giselle in November - for which Leung was one of the two principal ballerinas - was the equal of those performed by far more renowned companies in New York and London.