Hong Kong Ballet caught up in censorship row over latest show

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 31 October, 2013, 4:24am
UPDATED : Saturday, 19 September, 2015, 10:31pm

Hong Kong Ballet has denied it censored its latest show for political reasons, after it cut a controversial section of the performance and pledged to restage it.

The allegation of censorship came after last Friday's premiere of The Dream of the Red Chamber, a collaboration between the Hong Kong Ballet and Germany's Ballett Dortmund, at the Cultural Centre's Grand Theatre.

At the end of the ballet, a 12-minute projection sequence depicted different stages in China's history including the Ming dynasty, Qing dynasty, the provisional Republic of China and the Cultural Revolution.

In the part depicting the Cultural Revolution, dancers in Red Guards uniforms waved copies of Mao Zedong's "little red book", both historic icons of the turbulent period.

Following the premiere, the projection sequence was cut from the show. The ballet has been performed every night since Friday.

Some media reported that senior management from Hong Kong Ballet met their German counterparts and decided to cut the section because it was politically incorrect.

The section appeared in the show when it was presented in Dortmund last November.

Madeleine Onne, Hong Kong Ballet's Artistic Director, told a press conference yesterday the cut was solely for artistic reasons. "I think it's essential to present to the audience the best version of the dance. It's better to have the pure dancing, without the visual support," said Onne.

But she added that the projection sequence will be reinstated on Friday after it was "improved in technical ways".

On Tuesday, ballet representatives said the sequence was cut because it was "too long" and "too modern" and might be hard for local audiences to accept.