THE SLEEPING BEAUTY | Hong Kong, Cultural Centre

Hong Kong Ballet’s energetic, family-friendly 2010 production is revived again, a celebratory showcase for the entire company. Following Marius Petipa’s original 1890 choreography, Cynthia Harvey‘s production shaves off a good quarter of the full run-time to a tight two and a half hours, while still keeping the absolute heart of the fairytale, that love will always conquer evil.

In traditional style, the central tale is framed with a lengthy prologue and epilogue of competitive-like dancing, in order to entertain the royal party: at the start, Princess Aurora’s christening, and at the end, Queen Aurora’s wedding day. The combined power and finesse of the company actually manages to turn these “add-ons” into the highlights.

It’s hard to top the literal showstopping vignettes of the prologue, presenting the high contrast between all the fairies. The dance of the Beauty Fairy (Jessica Burrows) is particularly jaw-dropping, demanding a long-haul, rhythmically precise stepping en pointe to the mischievous plucks of pizzicato strings, and, impossibly, executed flawlessly.  In the epilogue, Blue Bird (Wang Zi) gives us one of the most powerhouse male solos of the whole piece.

There’s terrific contrast again throughout the story of sixteen-year-old Aurora (Amber Lewis): outrageously energetic pre-prick; ghostly and distant post-prick. Prince Désiré (Wei Wei) gives an impassioned performance in his career finale. Conducted by Music Director Emeritus Yip Wing-sie, the Hong Kong Sinfonietta offer us a full and luscious playing of Tchaikovsky’s iconic score, a complete show in and of itself. Technical brilliance with a pumping heart.

Playing 14 – 17 October 2021 at the Hong Kong Cultural Centre Grand Theatre.

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