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June 1, 2011 6:20 pm

Galaxy, Hong Kong Cultural Centre

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Hong Kong Ballet’s final offering this season was a spectacular gala programme. Entitled Galaxy, it boasted a world premiere as well as two company premieres.

The best of the three premieres, and the one that won the loudest applause on the opening night, was the comic duet Le Grand Pas de Deux, created in 1999 for the Stuttgart Ballet by Christian Spuck. Jin Yao, the company’s leading ballerina, was hilarious as the bespectacled ballerina with a red handbag who is constantly mistreated by her partner, here danced by Wei Wei. Spuck throws in various witty quotations from the classics, notably the Black Swan’s famous series of fouetté turns – Jin didn’t hide her dizziness afterwards.

 
Le Grand pas de deux
 Comic spectacle: Wei Wei and Jin Yao

The world premiere was the “pas de trois” from Fei Bo’s new ballet Cello Concerto in E Minor, set to the third movement of Elgar’s work of the same name. Fei, resident choreographer of the National Ballet of China and creator of the admirable ballet The Peony Pavilion, first shows us an author (Wu Fei-fei) working at her desk. Then two white-clad dancers appear, a woman (Liu Miao-miao) and her lover (Li Jia-bo), who dance passionately and seem to represent characters in the writer’s novel. Her tense interactions with this couple suggest that both characters are based on an unfulfilled romance in her youth.

The other local premiere was Grand Tarantella, a duet choreographed by Walter Bourke in 1974 for the Royal Swedish Ballet. Shen Jie gave a seamlessly phrased virtuoso performance in this Bournonville pastiche, but I couldn’t help wishing that the company had opted instead for Balanchine’s superior 1964 Tarantella, set to the same score by Gottschalk.

Still, it did revive Balanchine’s 1956 Allegro Brillante, a miniature gem among his Tchaikovsky ballets. Jin Yao danced gloriously, with a fullness of tone throughout, Huang Zhen was her gallant cavalier and the corps de ballet danced with high spirits.

The company’s guest principal from San Francisco Ballet, Yuan Yuan Tan, appears here once a season, bringing rewarding new choreography from her home company every time.

In Edwaard Liang’s Somewhere in Time, Tan, strongly partnered by Anthony Spaulding, was serene, weaving effortlessly in and out of his arms and forming a variety of geometries with her supple limbs and flexible spine. 

 

www.hkballet.com

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