SWAN LAKE | Hong Kong, Cultural Centre

Hong Kong Ballet’s 2007 production of Tchaikovsky’s romantic classic is back. Unlike the company’s other perennial classic, The Nutcracker, this is a decidedly traditional interpretation, and it works. Mostly based on the original Petipa and Ivanov choreography, there is substantial additional choreography by John Meehan, Carlo Pacis and Salina Chau, most notably in that Prince Siegfried first meets the swans on the lake on a group hunt, with a newly-gifted crossbow.

To meet audience demand, there are multiple casts, with a different ensemble each night. Zhiyao Chen is the image of fragile beauty as the white swan, Odette, managing to convey a tortured heart behind graceful lines. As the black swan, Odile, she goes through the motions of appearing wicked and seductive, but doesn’t quite sell us on the darkness.

As Prince Siegfried, Matthew Golding gets one of the loudest ovations of the night, whipping up an absolute storm of leaps and spins in the second half. Ivanov’s iconic choreography for the danse des petits cygnes is dealt with masterfully here: the four swans are nothing but calm from the tutu up, with legs kicking and twisting in perfect synchronicity underneath.

Fitting around possible MTR closures, the ballet may be shortened by twenty minutes. Conducted by Fayçal Karoui, the Hong Kong Sinfonietta handle the score beautifully, with some punchy solo violin by James Cuddeford, but at times they seem to be playing by numbers; more like a race to the finish than actually grappling with the drama. All in all though, another successful outing for Asia’s premier ballet company.

Swanning about in Hong Kong again until 3 November 2019.

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