Wednesday 13 July 2011

Quick plug for The Hong Kong Ballet

Ok, here's what you've all been waiting for....a rundown of the upcoming shows from The Hong Kong Ballet.

Swan Lake - everyone except me has seen Black Swan, so I'm sure you know the story. Evil sorceror casts a spell on a girl to be a swan by day, and a girl by night. The Prince falls in love with her while she's in swan form (what the??!) and hopes to marry her; happily the betrothal will break the spell over the White Swan, Odette. However, the dastardly sorceror will not be beaten that easily, so he transforms Odile, his daughter / niece (depending on who you ask) into the spitting image of the White Swan, and the poor old prince is fooled by her appearance and proposes to her instead. Disaster! Anyway, in the end, Odette and the Prince seal their everlasting love by topping themselves together. Very romantic.

Swan Lake is partly famous for its extreme technical demands - not least because traditionally one ballerina dances the role of both the White Swan and the Black Swan. (This will not happen in every performance of the HKB version by the way) The music is very well known, and the show will have live accompaniment from HK Sinfonietta.

Coppelia is a comedy ballet, which is popular with kids and families. Well, it's not HILARIOUSLY funny but it does make you giggle now and again. Essentially the story revolves around Coppelia, a beautiful, incredibly lifelike doll, created by Dr Coppelius. The Dr sits her our on the balcony, "reading", where she catches the eye of Franz, the local flirt who's passing by. Incidentally he's due to get married in less than 24 hours, but that doesn't stop him giving Coppelia the eye. When she doesn't respond, he decides to break into the house and meet her. Meanwhile, Franz's fiancee, Swanilda, gets a bee in her bonnet about her betrothed flirting with the new girl on the block. She breaks in too, in the nick of see, Dr Coppelius, scheming old curmudgeon that he is, wants to use Franz's life force to bring his doll to life (don't ask me how) but Swanilda comes to the rescue, and what's more she doesn't dump Franz, she marries him in the morning. And they all live happily ever after!

Coppelia is sweet and jolly and light-hearted- there's lots of humour inspired by mistaken identities (it's not exactly sophiscticated) Often cited as a good first-timers ballet.

Moments in Time is a triple bill, featuring 3 ballets which are each about half an hour long. They have all been commissioned by The Hong Kong Ballet, and their performances will be world premieres. They are all contemporary ballets, but not "someone sitting on a chair staring into the distance" contemporary... Luminous is inspired by the way that people often change partners, and a new boy/girlfriend brings out new aspects of yourself. Black on Black is inspired by, wait for it....the colour black. There are lots of videos of the choreographer's work on his website if you want to get an idea. He's called Kinsun Chan. And finally there's a piece by the resident choreographer of the National Ballet of China, Fei Bo. Title's about a writer, who becomes paranoid about the nature of her husband's relationship with a new colleague. It's very emotional from what I've seen so far.

The Nutcracker - all about Christmas! The story focuses on Clara, a little girl who is given a nutcracker for Christmas (slightly rubbish gift, but never mind). Inspired by the nutcracker and no doubt fuelled by egg nog and mince pies, Clara's dreams take her to a wonderfuil world filled with fairies, mice, toys and of course, the nutcracker. Finally the Nutcracker is transformed into a handsome prince who whisks Clara away.

The Nutcracker is a really charming ballet, with well known music, and a very joyful, upbeat mood.

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