The stock of the new

THE Hong Kong Ballet's workshop aims to assess the progress of certain choreographers, but it also serves as an end-of-season exercise in which dancers are freed from the usual classical conventions, and the audience gets to see 10 new pieces.

As you would expect from such a feast, there are dozens of moments that are worth the price of admission, and many of them came in Flora Cheong-Leen's Hallowed Halls, a visually stunning display that is bound to endure.

Featuring most of the company dressed in simple, but effective, costumes and with music by Jon (Anderson) and Vangelis, the piece explored mystical experience.

Delicate hand gestures and gentle, yoga-style movements contrasted the Eastern approach with the more energetic rituals of the West, but the whole piece was imbued with grace and harmony.

It was a night for the choreographers, but Conrad Dy-Liacco made a strong impression, first as one of the three males in Bangungot - focused on the fear of dying in one's sleep - then as the soloist in Together, Alone. Conrad has extraordinary presence, and his postures did more to develop a theme in the second piece than the choreography managed.

Fourplay, the most amusing piece of the evening, featured four of the company's best performers: Chan Lai-sheung, Mai Matsubara, Christina Lai and Michael Wang.

All but two of the pieces - Love Song and Crime de Passionelle - took full advantage of the licence to use contemporary dance idioms, leaving the classical pieces looking rather unadventurous by comparison.

A River of Love, again using most of the company, was a fitting climax - using casual dress and employing drum music, silence, and a folk/rock tune from the 70s - which was sensitive and moving.

Adjudicators Margaret Carlson, Helen Lai, Danny Yung and Bruce Steivel, however, were concerned with choreographic content, music in relation to the choreography, use of space, and use of dancers. Their conclusion was that Nolan T'Sani's Love Song and Ricardo Culalic's Bangungot were the top two pieces.