Review: HK Ballet's Choreographers’ Showcase 2016

September 30, 2016 17:38
Jin Yao and Wei Wei in Dan·Sheng by Chen Jun. Photo: Conrad Dy-Liacco

The Hong Kong Ballet has a fine tradition of presenting a choreographers’ showcase nearly every year.

This enables some of its own dancers to try their hands in creating new pieces.

In the past few years, local choreographers from outside the company have also been invited.

The eight pieces in this year’s collection, presented last weekend, were neatly divided into four pieces for each half of the program.

Let’s start off with the ballets created by company members.

The evening opened with Re... by company dancer Hui Ka-chun.

It takes place in a sitting room. The dancers are seen playing with chairs, as well as a game involving a water flask.

Tension builds gradually, before all the dancers make peace and embrace each other at the end.

This piece lacks focus, and the various strands just do not cohere into a central theme.

More interesting is the next piece Shogun, choreographed by Ryo Kato, a soloist of the company. It explores the rituals of a shogunate.

Li Jiabo looks striking as the chief shogun in red. His duet with Yuh Egami is pretty exciting.

A good contrast is provided by a female combative duet. As expected, the piece ends with a beheading.

Passion Flower by Jonathan Spigner features three men and a woman, with the men indulging in drinking. I find this piece trivial.

Fortunately, Follow Your Heart by Li Lin makes a bigger impact.

Xia Jun stands out in a sinuous solo which is pretty feminine. Liu Yuyao impresses as his muse.

Leung Chun-long’s work which plays on words “she” and “they” seems to show a woman suffering from schizophrenia.

Two female dancers represent the dancer’s multiple personalities. It is all pretty conventional and predictable.

The final work created by company dancers is Night Thoughts, jointly choreographed by Li Jiabo and Hong Kong Dance Company dancer He Chaoya.

Xia Jun is once more impressive in this piece set in moonlight.

The central duet for Ye Feifei and Ryo Kato has some big lifts, and is quite tender.

The dancing for the ensemble is energetic. However, the piece drags slightly.

Justyne Li, a local independent choreographer and former member of Hong Kong Ballet, creates a male solo for Hui Ka-chun, which is full of contorted steps.

This piece, Dance Internship I, which shows Hui being electrocuted, is enhanced by some effective lighting.

I have saved the best piece for last, which is by Chen Jun, a principal of Hong Kong Dance Company.

Dan·Sheng explores the hua-dan (young female) and wu-sheng (male martial artist) roles in Chinese opera.

Jin Yao is most expressive as the opera diva.

This allusive piece explores the contrast of the sexes and successfully conveys the mystique of Chinese opera.

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Xia Jun in Follow Your Heart by Li Lin. Photo: Conrad Dy-Liacco

veteran dance critic