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The Sleeping Beauty-Hong Kong Ballet

2015/3/15 — 11:29

The Hong Kong Ballet presented their production of The Sleeping Beauty at Shatin Town Hall on Friday night. One of Tchaikovsky’s most beloved ballets, it has what I think is some of his best music. The Sleeping Beauty theme has captivated the hearts of young girls for generations; simply hearing the opening notes of the songs transports you to a magic world of spinning wheels, princesses and evil queens.

Cynthia Harvey was the choreographer for last night’s production. She based the staging of the production after the work of Marius Petipa. Petipa is a well-known French choreographer who did the original choreography for this piece in 1890. It kind of blows my mind that the choreography for this ballet has lasted over a hundred years. We don’t preserve things anymore.

Liu Yu-yao as Princess Aurora was beautiful and had long extensions. The other lead parts were played by Wei-Wei, Ricky Hu and Gao Ge. The cast overall was strong in technique. Costumes and sets for this production were fine but seemed a bit too large for the space in Shatin. Perhaps they were originally conceived for a larger stage like the Grand Cultural Center? This seemed to particularly stand out in regards to the backdrops and flys; everything seemed off in proportion.

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The show was two and half hours long with 40 minutes of this eaten up by scene changes. I think there was a way to streamline this production better and reduce the number of scene changes to make them faster. One third of the evening shouldn’t be spent at intermission.

Technique wise, The Hong Kong Ballet are beautiful performers. Their chorus is in sync (most of the time), their pas de deux and lifts are well done, but they perform with very little emotion on their faces. There’s no “joy de vivre” in their work. It’s very hard for me as an audience member to connect to a piece and to characters when they dance so mechanically. It’s like watching robots on stage, rather than people. I want to connect with people and their humanness when I go to the theatre.

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I realize this is completely a personal preference for me in ballet. Many people saw Sleeping Beauty last night and thought it was brilliant. But for me, without passion on stage and that special human connection between artist and audience there’s no purpose in watching art.

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